LaChanze in 2006
|Born||Rhonda LaChanze Sapp
December 16, 1961
St. Augustine, Florida, U.S.
|Other names||LaChanze Sapp, La Chanze Sapp-Gooding, R. Lachanze Sapp|
|Occupation||Actress, singer, dancer|
Rhonda LaChanze Sapp, known professionally as LaChanze (/ləʃɑnz/; born December 16, 1961) is an American actress, singer, and dancer. She won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical in 2006 for her role in The Color Purple.
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Born in St. Augustine, Florida, to parents Walter and Rosalie Sapp, her stage name "LaChanze" (Creole: the charmed one), is taken from her grandmother. After moving to Connecticut, her childhood love of singing and dancing caused her mother to enroll her in the Bowen Peters Cultural Arts Center in New Haven. It is there that she first discovered her love for performing. At Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, LaChanze made her debut as Lola in the school production of Damn Yankees.
Living so close to New York City gave LaChanze access to the world of theater. The first theatrical production she ever saw was the musical Chicago. Graciela Daniele was cast in the production and many years later Daniele had a lasting impact on LaChanze's professional development as a performer. While she greatly enjoyed the dance world, LaChanze often felt limited and had the frequent urge to stop dancing and belt out a dramatic tune or to erupt into an intense monologue.
After high school, LaChanze studied Drama at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, before transferring to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she studied Theater and Dance. Her first summer job was as a tap dancer in the ensemble of Uptown... It's Hot! at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The show soon moved on to Broadway where LaChanze began her professional career in the theater.
While LaChanze was eight months pregnant with her second child, her husband, securities trader Calvin Gooding, was killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was working at Cantor Fitzgerald in Tower One of the World Trade Center. On September 6, 2002, she sang the National Anthem at a joint meeting of Congress in Federal Hall, the first meeting of Congress in New York since 1790. She later sang Amazing Grace at the dedication of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on May 15, 2014, dedicating her performance to her late husband.
LaChanze remarried in 2005 to Derek Fordjour, and later divorced him in 2014. The divorce was finalized on March 27, 2014 in Westchester County. 
LaChanze played the role of "Ti Moune" in the Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty musical Once on This Island in 1990 and received nominations for the Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical and Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Musical.
She played the role of "Viveca" in the Playwrights Horizons Off-Broadway production of the musical The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, which opened in June 2000. She received a Drama Desk nomination, Actress (Musical), for her performance.
In 2005 she played a runaway slave in the Ahrens and Flaherty musical Dessa Rose. The musical opened Off-Broadway at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center in March 2005. LaChanze received an Obie Award for Performance for Dessa Rose.
- If/Then (2013)
- The Wiz (2009)
- Inked Baby (2009)
- The Color Purple (2005)
- Dessa Rose (2005)
- Baby (musical) (2004)
- Once on This Island (2002)
- Funny Girl (2002)
- The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (2000)
- Ragtime (1998)
- Company (1995)
- Once on This Island (1990)
- Dreamgirls (1987)
- Uptown...It's Hot! (1986)
- The Cosby Show (1988) (TV)
- Leap of Faith (1992)
- For Love or Money (1993)
- The Cosby Mysteries (1994) (TV)
- New York Undercover (1996) (TV)
- David Searching (1997)
- Hercules (1997)
- Sex and the City (1999) (TV)
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2000, 2008) (TV)
- Lucy (2003)
- Breaking Upwards (2009)
- The Help (2011)
- Side Effects (2013)
Awards and nominations
- 1991 Theatre World Award - Once on This Island
- 2005 Obie Award for Performance - Dessa Rose
- 2006 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical - The Color Purple
- 2010 Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence On Camera: Programming – Performer - Handel's Messiah Rocks
- 1991 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical - Once on This Island
- 1991 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical - Once on This Island
- 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical - Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin
- 2005 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical - Dessa Rose
- "Anthony Rapp Will Join Tony Winners Idina Menzel and LaChanze in Broadway-Bound Musical If/Then" Playbill. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- "LaChanze" Oprah.com. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- Lehrer, Sari. "Weddings" New York Magazine, Summer 2006, retrieved August 29, 2013
- Michael Gioia, "My If/Then Moment": LaChanze Recounts the Divine Intervention Leading Her to the 9/11 Memorial, 18 Jun 2014, http://www.playbill.com/news/article/my-if-then-moment-lachanze-recounts-the-divine-intervention-leading-her-to--322641
- "LaChanze Career" masterworksbroadway.com, accessed August 29, 2013
- Listing, see Awards Internet Broadway Database, accessed August 29, 2013
- Lefkowitz, David and Viagas, Robert and Ehren, Christine. "Bway's 'Ragtime' To Get All-New Leads, Incl. Rubinstein, Alton White & LaChanze" playbill.com, December 18, 1998
- Listing lortel.org, accessed August 30, 2013
- Jones, Kenneth and Simonson, Robert. 2001 "Drama Desk Winners Include 'Producers', 'Proof' and 'Mnemonic' " playbill.com, May 20, 2001
- Simonson, Robert. More Fannys: LaChanze, Kayden, Murney Join Funny Girl Concert" playbill.com, September 17, 2002
- Simonson, Robert. "LaChanze and Rachel York Begin Previews in 'Dessa Rose' at Mitzi Newhouse, Feb. 17" February 17, 2005
- "Search 2005" villagevoice.com, accessed August 29, 2013
- Simonson, Robert. "Shanley, Hughes, Culkin, Marvel, O'Connell Among 2005 Obie Winners" playbill.com, May 16, 2005
- Hernandez, Ernio. "LaChanze Confirmed as Leading Lady of 'Color Purple' Musical; Broadway Cast Announced" playbill.com, September 7, 2005
- Hernandez, Ernio. "Tony Winner LaChanze to End Her Run in Broadway's 'The Color Purple' Nov. 5" playbill.com, October 18, 2006
- Gans, Andrew. PBS to Film LaChanze, Spencer and Boston Pops in Handel's Messiah Rocks" playbill.com, September 5, 2008
- Jones, Kenneth. " 'Inked Baby', Starring LaChanze, Opens March 23 in NYC" playbill.com, March 23, 2009
- Gans, Andrew and Hetrick, Adam."Jones, LaChanze, Arnold, Lewis, Henry and More Will Join Ashanti in The Wiz" playbill.com, May 7, 2009
- "Tony Winner LaChanze to Join Idina Menzel in the New Broadway Musical 'If/Then' " Broadway.com. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- Filmography The New York Times, accessed August 29, 2013
- Filmography tcm.com, accessed August 29, 2013
- LaChanze at the Internet Broadway Database
- LaChanze at the Internet Movie Database
- The Color Purple at the Internet Broadway Database
- LaChanze - Downstage Center interview at American Theatre Wing.org