Alfre Woodard

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Alfre Woodard
Alfre Woodard 2012.jpg
Woodard at Congressional Black Caucus in Johnson C. Smith University in 2012.
BornAlfre Woodard
(1952-11-08) November 8, 1952 (age 61)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1978–present
Spouse(s)Roderick Spencer (m. 1983)
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Alfre Woodard
Alfre Woodard 2012.jpg
Woodard at Congressional Black Caucus in Johnson C. Smith University in 2012.
BornAlfre Woodard
(1952-11-08) November 8, 1952 (age 61)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1978–present
Spouse(s)Roderick Spencer (m. 1983)

Alfre Woodard (born November 8, 1952) is an American film, stage, and television actress, producer, and political activist. Woodard has been called one of the most versatile and accomplished actors of her generation.[1] She has been nominated once for an Academy Award and Grammy Award, 18 times for an Emmy Award (winning four), and has also won a Golden Globe Award and three Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Woodard began her acting career in theatre. After her breakthrough role in the Off-Broadway play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf (1977), she made her film debut in Remember My Name (1978). In 1980 she starred in Robert Altman's Health and in 1983 won major critical praise and was nominated for a Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for role in Cross Creek.[1] In same year, Woodard won her first Primetime Emmy Award for her performance in the NBC drama series Hill Street Blues. Later in the 1980s, Woodard had leading Emmy Award-nominated performances in a number of made for television movies, and another Emmy-winning role as a woman dying of leukemia[2] in the pilot episode of L.A. Law. She also starred as Dr. Roxanne Turner in the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere, for which she was nominated an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1986 and for Guest Actress in 1988.

In the 1990s, Woodard starred in films such as Grand Canyon (1991), Heart and Souls (1993), Crooklyn (1994), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), Primal Fear (1996) and Star Trek: First Contact (1996). She also drew critical praise for her performances in the independent dramas Passion Fish (1992), for which she won an Independent Spirit Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress, as wells as Down in the Delta (1998). For her lead role in the HBO film Miss Evers' Boys (1997), Woodard won Golden Globe, Emmy, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and several another awards. In later years she has appeared in several blockbusters, like K-PAX (2001), The Core (2001), and The Forgotten (2004), starred in independent films, and won her fourth Emmy Award for The Practice in 2003. From 2005 to 2006, Woodard starred as Betty Applewhite in the ABC comedy-drama series Desperate Housewives, and later starred in several short-lived series. She appeared in films The Family That Preys (2008) and 12 Years a Slave (2013), and has also worked as a political activist and producer. Woodard is a founder of Artists for a New South Africa, organization devoted to advancing democracy and equality in that country.[3] She is a board member of AMPAS.[4]

Early life[edit]

Woodard was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Constance, a homemaker, and Marion H. Woodard, an entrepreneur and interior designer.[5] Woodard attended Bishop Kelley High School, a private Catholic school in Tulsa. She studied drama at Boston University, from which she graduated.[3]


Woodard has made numerous appearances in television and motion pictures. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1983 film Cross Creek. In 1993, she starred in the film Passion Fish for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. She also appeared in the films Heart and Souls, Crooklyn, How to Make an American Quilt, Primal Fear, in Down in the Delta as a single alcoholic mother from Chicago forced to spend a summer with her uncle in Mississippi, and as Lily Sloane, Zefram Cochrane's assistant in Star Trek: First Contact, a performance in the franchise which garnered wide critical acclaim.

Woodard at the premiere of 12 Years a Slave at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival

In 1997, she starred in the HBO film Miss Evers' Boys, for which she won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a CableACE Award, an NAACP Image Award and a Satellite Awards.

Woodard's television credits include Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, Faerie Tale Theatre (in "Puss in Boots"), L.A. Law, and Homicide: Life on the Street. Woodard has won four Primetime Emmy Awards for her performances in the series Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and The Practice, as well as the television movie Miss Evers' Boys. Woodard has received Emmy nominations for Words by Heart, St. Elsewhere, Unnatural Causes, a second nomination for St. Elsewhere, A Mother's Courage: The Mary Thomas Story, The Piano Lesson, Gulliver's Travels, Homicide: Life on the Street and The Water Is Wide.[6]

In 2003, Woodard, took part in the HBO film Unchained Memories, a dramatization of WPA slave narratives. From 2005 to 2006, Woodard starred in the ABC series Desperate Housewives, and received another Emmy nomination for her role as Betty Applewhite. Woodard has appeared on stage in such plays as Map of the World, Drowning Crow, Me & Bessie and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. She starred in Tyler Perry's latest film The Family That Preys. In 2009, she appeared in American Violet, playing the mother of a 24-year-old African-American woman wrongfully swept up in a drug raid.

In 2010, she was a guest star in the third season of HBO's True Blood as Ruby Jean Reynolds.[7] and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2011 for her role.[8][9]

She was most recently seen starring as Lt. Tanya Rice in TNT's original series Memphis Beat, for which she won Gracie Allen Awards for performance in a series. One critic said: "I originally tuned in for Jason Lee, who plays a police detective named Dwight who likes to croon the blues. But I was won over by Alfre Woodard, who plays Dwight’s by-the-book boss."[10] In 2013, she appeared in Ava DuVernay's short film The Door, a part of Miu Miu's Women's Tales series.[11]

Woodard with her husband Roderick Spencer at the 1987 Emmy Awards

On March 21, 2014 it was announced that Woodard will be playing the role of the first female President of the United States in the NBC political drama pilot State of Affairs.[12][13]

Personal life[edit]

Woodard lives in Santa Monica, California, with her husband, writer Roderick Spencer, and their two children, Mavis and Duncan. Woodard follows Christian Science.[14] She is a founder and board member of Artists for a New South Africa and is also active in the Democratic Party. Woodard has also expressed support for same sex marriage.[15] In February 2009, she joined a group of American film directors and actors on a cultural trip to Iran at the invitation of the "House of Cinema" forum in Tehran.[16] Her daughter, Mavis, served as Miss Golden Globe for the 2010 Golden Globe Awards.[17]

Awards and nominations[edit]


Film and Television
1978Remember My NameRita
1979Freedom RoadKatie
1980HealtHSally Benbow
1981Sophisticated Gents, TheThe Sophisticated GentsEvelyn Evers
1982The Ambush MurdersKariha Ellsworth
1982–83Tucker's WitchMarcia Fulbright12 episodes
1983Hill Street BluesDoris Robson3 episodes
1983Cross CreekGeechee
1985SaraRozalyn Dupree13 episodes
1985, 1988St. ElsewhereDr. Roxanne Turner13 episodes
1987MandelaWinnie Mandela
1987The Life SaverAndrea Crawford
1988ScroogedGrace Cooley
1989Miss FirecrackerPopeye Jackson
1989A Mother's Courage: The Mary Thomas StoryMary Thomas
1990Blue BayouJessica Filley
1991Grand CanyonJane
1991Pretty Hattie's BabyHattieUnreleased
1992Passion FishChantelle
1992Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, TheThe Gun in Betty Lou's HandbagAttorney Ann Orkin
1993Rich in LoveRhody Poole
1993Heart and SoulsPenny Washington
1993Bopha!Rosie Mangena
1994FrasierEdnaEpisode: "The Botched Language of Cranes"
1994Blue ChipsLavada McRae
1994CrooklynCarolyn Carmichael
1995How to Make an American QuiltMarianna
1995Piano Lesson, TheThe Piano LessonBerniece
1996Star Trek: First ContactLily Sloane
1996Gulliver's TravelsQueen of Brobdingnag
1996Primal FearJudge Miriam Shoat
1996Follow Me HomeEvey
1996A Step Toward TomorrowDr. Sandlin
1997Cadillac DesertNarrator
1997Miss Evers' BoysEunice Evers
1997Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue, TheThe Brave Little Toaster to the RescueMaisie the CatVoice role
1997Member of the Wedding, TheThe Member of the WeddingBerenice Sadie Brown
1998Down in the DeltaLoretta Sinclair
1998Homicide: Life on the StreetDr. Roxanne TurnerEpisode: "Mercy"
1999Funny ValentinesJoyce May
1999The Wishing TreeClara Collier
2000What's Cooking?Audrey Williams
2000Holiday HeartWanda
2000Love & BasketballCamille Wright
2000InnovatorsHerself as Host
2000DinosaurPlioVoice role
2001K-PAXClaudia Villars
2002Searching for Debra WingerHerself
2002Wild Thornberrys Movie, TheThe Wild Thornberrys MovieAkelaVoice role
2003Singing Detective, TheThe Singing DetectiveChief of Staff
2003Core, TheThe CoreTalma Stickley
2003Practice, TheThe PracticeDenise FreemanEpisodes: "Final Judgement" and "Down the Hatch"
2003Unchained Memoriesa reader of a WPA slave narrative.
2003RadioPrincipal Daniels
2003Wrinkle in Time, AA Wrinkle in TimeMrs. Whatsit
2004Forgotten, TheThe ForgottenDetective Anne Pope
2005Beauty ShopMiss Josephine
2006Something NewJoyce McQueen
2006Take the LeadPrincipal Augustine James
2005–06Desperate HousewivesBetty Applewhite26 episodes, Season 2, series regular
2007Pictures of Hollis WoodsEdna Reilly
2008American VioletAlma Roberts
2008Family That Preys, TheThe Family That PreysAlice Pratt
2008AmericanEastAngela Jensen
2008My Own Worst EnemyMavis Heller9 episodes
2009–10Three RiversDr. Sophia Jordan12 episodes
2009Reach for MeEvelyn
2010, 2012True BloodRuby Jean Reynolds4 episodes
2010Black PantherDondi Reese, Queen Mother
2010–2011Memphis BeatLt. Tanya Rice20 episodes
2011Grey's AnatomyJustine CampbellEpisode: "Heart Shaped Box"
2012Steel MagnoliasOuiser
2012Private PracticeDee BennettEpisode: "The Next Episode"
2013CopperHattie Lemaster[18]6 episodes
201312 Years a SlaveMistress Harriet Shaw
2014State of AffairsPresident of the United States Roberta PaytonMain cast
Upcoming television series
2015Mississippi Grind


  1. ^ a b What time do the ACM Awards start? (2013-07-26). "Alfre Woodard makes history with 17 Emmy nods for 16 roles". Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  2. ^ Jarvis, Jeff (1986-09-15). "Picks and Pans Review: L.A. Law". Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  3. ^ a b "Alfre Woodard Biography". Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  4. ^ "East Africa | Global Outreach | Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences". 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  5. ^ Alfre Woodard Biography (1952–)
  6. ^ Alfre Woodard 2006 Interview on Sidewalks Entertainment
  7. ^ TV: 'True Blood' Returns This June
  8. ^ And the 2011 Emmy Award Nominees Are...
  9. ^ Announcing the 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards Nominees!
  10. ^ Paige Wiser (June 2, 2011). "7 summer TV shows that you’ll want to skip the beach for". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  11. ^ "Miu Miu". Miu Miu. Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  12. ^ 7 HRS (2014-01-17). "Alfre Woodard to Play President in NBC's Katherine Heigl Drama". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  13. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (1970-01-01). "Alfre Woodard To Play US President In NBC Pilot 'State Of Affair'". Retrieved 2014-03-22. 
  14. ^ The religion of Alfre Woodard, actress
  15. ^ (2012-5-9)!
  16. ^ Iranians newspaper, Ashburn, Virginia, March 6, 2009.
  17. ^ http://www.justjared.c o m/2009/12/09/mavis-spencer-is-miss-golden-globe-2010/
  18. ^ Nellie Andreeva (April 11, 2013). "Alfre Woodard Joins ‘Copper’, ‘Under The Dome’ & ‘Switched At Birth’ Add Recurring". Retrieved 2013-04-11. 

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