I've always referred to some actresses as broads, although She never liked the term. It was referring to a certain type of actress that could appear tough and yet vulnerable at the same time, who was quick with a smirk or a leer, who picked or chose her moments with men, and who chose when to lose control and surrender.
Ellen Barkin was always like that, long before she got married and divorced. She's that way in the movie Siesta, a film probably best forgotten except for her and for the soundtrack by Miles. Without going back to see it, what I remember is a young girl, tough as nails, making her own way and making her own choices. Holly Hunter is like that now in Saving Grace on TNT. She decides, pure and simple, no matter what the choice is. She decides. Helen Shaver is another.
None of them is a knockout, all attractive and well proportioned (and all blondes, now that I think about it), but all have that certain toughness, that certain edge, that makes you want to do their bidding, no matter what it might be.