Lynn Whitfield

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Lynn Whitfield
Born Lynn Butler-Smith
(1953-05-06) May 6, 1953 (age 61)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1981—present
Spouse(s)

Vantile Whitfield (m. 1974; div. 1978)[1]

Brian Gibson (m. 1990; div. 1992)[2]
Children Grace Gibson [3]

Lynn Whitfield (née Butler-Smith; born May 6, 1953) is an American actress.

Whitfield began her acting career in television and theatre, before progressing to supporting roles in film. She won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special and a NAACP Image Award for her performance as Josephine Baker in the HBO movie The Josephine Baker Story (1991). She also won NAACP Image awards for her work in Touched by an Angel (1998), The Planet of Junior Brown (2000) and Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story (2004).

Her film work includes performances in A Thin Line Between Love and Hate (1996), Eve's Bayou (1997), The Cheetah Girls (2003), Madea's Family Reunion (2006), and The Cheetah Girls 2 (2006). Kings Faith (2013)

Early life[edit]

Whitfield was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the daughter of Jean (née Butler), an officer of a finance agency, and Valerian Smith, a dentist.[4] Lynn Whitfield is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Career[edit]

Whitfield had a series of television appearances before her film career began, including playing Jill Thomas in the award-winning series Hill Street Blues. After gaining attention on stage in Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Whitfield appeared in supporting roles in such films as Doctor Detroit (1983) and Silverado (1985). She gained wider success by starring in the television films The George McKenna Story, Johnnie Mae Gibson: FBI, (both 1986), and the miniseries The Women of Brewster Place (1989).

Whitfield achieved international recognition in the title role of The Josephine Baker Story (1991), the HBO biopic requiring her to age from 18 to 68. She portrayed the American Folies Bergère star who became a Resistance fighter during WWII and civil rights activist. In a highly publicized casting call, Whitfield was chosen over more than 500 women. She won an Emmy Award for her role and said this gave her, "the greatest sense of accomplishment and realization of my vision. It absolutely called upon everything I thought I could do at that point." Around this time she also married the film's director, Brian Gibson. They had a daughter named Grace Gibson and divorced in 1992.

Whitfield worked as a regular in two ABC series (Heartbreak and Equal Justice) prior to playing Baker. She returned to a TV series opposite Bill Cosby in The Cosby Mysteries (NBC, 1994–95).

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and Gone Fishin' (both 1996) increased her exposure. Whitfield then appeared in Eve's Bayou (1997), as the head of a prosperous, socially prominent black family in Louisiana. She returned to a similar milieu as snobby Martha's Vineyard matron Corinne Coles in the ABC miniseries The Wedding (1998). In recent years, she starred as Dorthea Garibaldi in both The Cheetah Girls and The Cheetah Girls 2. She also starred in Mama, I Want To Sing! with Ciara, and in 2006's film drama Madea's Family Reunion.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1981 Hill Street Blues Jill Thomas Television program
Episodes: "Chipped Beef"
"Fecund Hand Rose"
"Can World War III Be an Attitude?"
1982 For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf Woman in the bath American Playhouse
Anthology series
1983 Doctor Detroit Thelma Cleland
1983 Matt Houston Val Television program
Episode: "The Centerfold Murders"
1983–1985 This Is the Life Norma Television program
Episodes: "Certain Arrangements"
"How Shall We Then Live?"
1985 Cagney & Lacey Eleanor Taggart Television program
Episodes: "Who Says It's Fair: Part 1"
"Who Says It's Fair: Part 2"
1985 Slugger's Wife, TheThe Slugger's Wife Tina Alvarado
1985 Silverado Rae
1985 Miami Vice Odette Ribaud Television program
Episode: "Bought and Paid For"
1985 Fall Guy, TheThe Fall Guy Jeanne Television program
Episode: "Escape Claus"
1986 Johnnie Mae Gibson: FBI Johnnie Mae Gibson Television film
1986 George McKenna Story, TheThe George McKenna Story Bobbie Maxwell Television film
1986 New Mike Hammer, TheThe New Mike Hammer Della Marvel Television program
Episode: "Harlem Nocturne"
1986 Tall Tales & Legends Pollie Ann Television program
Episode: "John Henry"
1987 Dead Aim Sheila Freeman
1987 Jaws: The Revenge Louisa
1988 St. Elsewhere Annie Callan Television program
Episode: "Curtains"
1988 Heartbeat Dr. Cory Banks Television program
Episode: "Pilot"
1989 Women of Brewster Place, TheThe Women of Brewster Place Luciela Miniseries
1990 Zora Is My Name American Playhouse
Anthology series
1990 Matlock Angela Page Television program
Episodes: "The Informer: Part 1"
"The Informer: Part 2"
1991 Trials of Rosie O'Neill, TheThe Trials of Rosie O'Neill Television program
Episode: "Domestic Silence"
1991 Equal Justice Maggie Mayfield Television program
5 episodes
1991 Josephine Baker Story, TheThe Josephine Baker Story Josephine Baker Television film
1991 Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story, AA Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story Natala Television film
1992 Stompin' at the Savoy Esther Television film
1993 Taking the Heat Carolyn Hunter Television film
1994 In the Army Now Sgt. Ladd
1994 State of Emergency Dehlia Johnson Television film
1994 Thicker Than Blood: The Larry McLinden Story Bobbie Mallory Television film
1994–1995 Cosby Mysteries, TheThe Cosby Mysteries Barbara Lorenz Television program
Episodes: "Pilot"
"One Day at a Time"
"Home, Street Home"
"Last Tango"
1996 Sophie & the Moonhanger Sophie Television film
1996 Thin Line Between Love and Hate, AA Thin Line Between Love and Hate Brandi
1997 Martin Ellen Television program
Episodes: "Goin' Overboard: Part 1"
"Goin' Overboard: Part 2"
1997 Touched by an Angel Dr. Serena Hall Television program
Episodes: "Amazing Grace: Part 1"
"Amazing Grace: Part 2"
1997 Gone Fishin' Angie
1997 Planet of Junior Brown, TheThe Planet of Junior Brown Mrs. Brown
1997 Eve's Bayou Roz Batiste
1998 Stepmom Dr. P. Sweikert
1998 Wedding, TheThe Wedding Corinne Coles Television film
1999 Color of Courage, TheThe Color of Courage Minnie McGhee Television film
1999 Deep in My Heart Corinne Burrell Television film
1999 Dangerous Evidence: The Lori Jackson Story Lori Jackson Television film
1999 Love Songs Jean Simpson Television film
2000 Time for Dancing, AA Time for Dancing Linda Derricks
2001 Girl Thing, AA Girl Thing Nia Morgan Television film
2001 Boston Public Louanna Harper Television program
3 episodes
2002–2006 Without a Trace Paula Van Doren Television program
Episodes: "Suspect"
"Are You now or Have You Ever Been"
"Fallout: Part 1"
"Fallout: Part 2"
"Lost and Found"
"White Balance"
2003 Head of State Debra Lassiter
2003 Cheetah Girls, TheThe Cheetah Girls Dorothea Television film
2004 Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story Barbara Becnel Television film
2004 Strong Medicine Dr. Marshall Television program
Episode: "Race for a Cure"
2006 Madea's Family Reunion Victoria
2006 Confessions Dr. Page
2006 Cheetah Girls 2, TheThe Cheetah Girls 2 Dorothea Television film
2006 Shark Anita Astin Television program
Episode: "Pilot"
2008 Kings of the Evening Gracie
2008 Women, TheThe Women Glenda Hill
2011 Mama, I Want to Sing! Lillian Winter
2011 Rebound, TheThe Rebound Laura
2011 FlashForward Anastasia Markham Television program
Episode: "White to Play"
2011 All Things Fall Apart Bee
2012 Somebody's Child Constance Television film
2012 Battlefield America Ms. Parker
2012 Prodigy Bully Angela Washington Television film
2012 Redemption of a Dog Francine
2014 Hit the Floor Vanessa Howard

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Title Result
1991 Emmy Awards "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special" Josephine Baker Story, TheThe Josephine Baker Story Won
1992 Golden Globe Awards "Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV" Josephine Baker Story, TheThe Josephine Baker Story Nominated
1993 NAACP Image Awards "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie" Josephine Baker Story, TheThe Josephine Baker Story Won
1998 NAACP Image Awards "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture" Eve's Bayou Nominated
1998 NAACP Image Awards "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" Touched by an Angel Won
1999 NAACP Image Awards "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie or Mini-Series" Wedding, TheThe Wedding Nominated
2000 NAACP Image Awards "Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie/Miniseries/Dramatic Special" Dangerous Evidence: The Lori Jackson Story Nominated
2000 NAACP Image Awards "Outstanding Performance in a Youth or Children's Series/Special" Planet of Junior Brown, TheThe Planet of Junior Brown Won
2000 Black Reel Awards "Network/Cable - Best Actress" Love Songs Nominated
2004 Black Reel Awards "Television: Best Supporting Actress" Cheetah Girls, TheThe Cheetah Girls Nominated
2004 BET Comedy Awards "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Box Office Movie" Head of State Nominated
2004 NAACP Image Awards "Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Program" Cheetah Girls, TheThe Cheetah Girls Nominated
2004 NAMIC Vision Awards "Best Dramatic Performance" Cheetah Girls, TheThe Cheetah Girls Nominated
2005 Black Reel Awards "Best Actress, Network/Cable Television" Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story Won
2005 NAACP Image Awards "Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special" Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story Won
2006 Black Movie Awards "Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role" Madea's Family Reunion Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shinhoster Lamb, Yvonne (2005-01-23). "Arts Administrator, Playwright Vantile Whitfield Dies". Washington Post (Washington, DC). "His marriages to Barbara Cobb, Barbara Grant Thomas and Lynn Whitfield, the actress and a former student, ended in divorce." 
  2. ^ "Lynn Whitfield Shimmies into the Skin of Sultry Josephine Baker". 
  3. ^ "Lynn Whitfield’s Daughter, Grace Gibson, Covers Adeles’ “Rumor Has It/Set Fire To The Rain”". 
  4. ^ "Lynn Whitfield Biography (1953?-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 

External links[edit]