Phylicia Rashād

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Phylicia Rashād
Phylicia Rashad, Red Dress Collection 2007.jpg
At the 2007 Red Dress Collection for The Heart Truth Foundation
Born Phylicia Ayers-Allen
(1948-06-19) June 19, 1948 (age 66)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1972–present
Spouse(s) William Lancelot Bowles, Jr. (1972–1975)
Victor Willis (1978–1982)
Ahmad Rashād (1985–2001)

Phylicia Rashād[needs IPA] (born Phylicia Ayers-Allen; June 19, 1948) is an American Tony Award-winning actress, singer and stage director, best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for this part in 1985 and 1986.

In 2004, Rashād became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, which she won for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun.[1][2] She resumed the role in the 2008 television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, which earned her the 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. Rashād was dubbed "The Mother" of the African-American community at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards.

Early life[edit]

Rashād was born in Houston, Texas. Her mother, Vivian Ayers, was a Pulitzer-prize nominated artist, poet, playwright, scholar, and publisher. Her father, Andrew Arthur Allen (d. 1984), was an orthodontist.[3][4] Rashād's siblings are jazz-musician brother Tex (Andrew Arthur Allen, Jr., born 1945), sister Debbie Allen (1950), an actress, choreographer, and director, and brother Hugh Allen (a real estate banker in North Carolina). While Rashād was growing up, her family moved to Mexico, and as a result, Rashād speaks Spanish fluently.

Rashād studied at Howard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1970 with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She was initiated into the Alpha chapter during her tenure at Howard University.[5]

Theatre[edit]

Rashād first became notable on the stage with a string of Broadway credits, including Deena Jones in Dreamgirls (she was Sheryl Lee Ralph's understudy until leaving the show in 1982 after being passed over as Ralph's full-time replacement) and playing a Munchkin in The Wiz for three and a half years. In 1978, she released the album Josephine Superstar, a disco Concept album telling the life story of Josephine Baker. The album was mainly written and produced by Jacques Morali and Rashād's second husband Victor Willis, original lead singer and lyricist of the Village People. She met Willis while they were both cast in The Wiz.

Other Broadway credits include August: Osage County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gem of the Ocean, Raisin in the Sun (2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play/Drama Desk Award), Blue, Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, and Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death. Off-Broadway credits include Lincoln Center’s productions of Cymbeline and Bernarda Alba (musical); Helen, The Story and Everybody's Ruby at the Public Theater; The Negro Ensemble Company productions of Puppet Play, Zooman and the Sign, Sons and Fathers of Sons, In an Upstate Motel, Weep Not For Me, and The Great Mac Daddy; Lincoln Center's production of Ed Bullins' The Duplex; and The Sirens at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In regional theatre, she performed as Euripedes' Medea and in Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Other regional theatres at which she has performed are the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and the Huntington Theatre in Boston.

Rashad was the first African-American actress to win the Best Actress (Play) Tony Award, which she won for her 2004 performance as Lena Younger in a revival of the play A Raisin in the Sun by playwright Lorraine Hansberry. She was nominated for the same award the following year, for Gem of the Ocean. Several Black women have won in the Best Actress (Musical) category, including the late Virginia Capers, who won in 1973 for her portrayal of Lena in the musical adaptation of Hansberry's play, entitled "Raisin.". Rashad also won the 2004 Drama Desk award for Best Actress in a play for A Raisin in the Sun by tying (split award) with Viola Davis for the play "Intimate Apparel".

In 2007, Rashād made her directorial debut with the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.[6] More recently, in early 2014 Rashād directed a revival of Fences, also by Wilson, at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, which ran to generally positive reviews, and continued an ongoing focus on Wilson's work.[7]

Film and television[edit]

Rashād received a career boost when she joined the cast of the ABC soap opera One Life to Live to play publicist Courtney Wright in 1983. She is best known for another television role, that of attorney Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. The show, which ran from 1984 to 1992, starred Bill Cosby as obstetrician Cliff Huxtable, and focused on their life with their five children.

When Cosby returned to TV comedy in 1996 with CBS's Cosby, he called on Rashād to play Ruth Lucas, his character's wife. The pilot episode had been shot with Telma Hopkins, but Cosby then fired the executive producer and replaced Hopkins with Rashād.[8] The sitcom ran from 1996 to 2000.[9] That year, Cosby asked Rashād to work on his animated television series Little Bill, in which the actress voiced Bill's mother, Brenda, until the show's end in 2002. She also played a role in the pre-show of the "Dinosaur" ride at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park as Dr. Helen Marsh, the head of the Dino Institute.

She played Kill Moves' affluent mother on Everybody Hates Chris on Sunday, December 9, 2007. In 2007 she appeared as Winnie Guster in the Psych episode Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy. She returned to the role in 2008, in the episode Christmas Joy.

In February 2008, she appeared in the television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun. She starred on Broadway as Big Mama in an all-African American production of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof directed by her sister Debbie Allen. She appeared alongside stage veterans James Earl Jones (Big Daddy) and Anika Noni Rose (Maggie), as well as film actor Terrence Howard, who made his Broadway debut as Brick. She next appeared as Violet Weston, the drug-addicted matriarch of Tracy Lett's award-winning play, August: Osage County at the Music Box Theatre.

In November 2010, Rashād starred in the Tyler Perry film For Colored Girls, based on the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. In 2012 she starred in another Tyler Perry movie Good Deeds. In that same year, Rashād played Clairee Belcher in the remake of Steel Magnolias (the role originated by Olympia Dukakis). This version has an all African American cast.

Personal life[edit]

Rashād's first marriage, in 1972, was to dentist William Lancelot Bowles, Jr. They had one son, William Lancelot Bowles III, who was born the following year. The marriage ended in 1975. Rashād then married Victor Willis (original lead singer of the Village People, whom she met during the run of The Wiz) in 1978. Their divorce was finalized in 1982.

She married former NFL wide receiver and sportscaster Ahmad Rashād on December 14, 1985. It was a third marriage for both of them and she took his last name. They were married after he proposed to her during a pregame show for a nationally televised Thanksgiving Day football game between the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions on November 28, 1985.[10][11] Their daughter, Condola Phyleia Rashād,[12] was born on December 11, 1986 in New York. The couple divorced in early 2001.[13]

Filmography[edit]

Film and television roles
Year Title Role Notes
1976 Delvecchio Ventita Ray Episode: "Wax Job"
1983–84 One Life to Live Courtney Wright Regular role
1984–92 The Cosby Show Clair Hanks Huxtable 195 episodes
1985 Santa Barbara Felicia Dalton 3 episodes
1985 The Love Boat Lonette Becker Episode: "A Day in Port"
1987 Uncle Tom's Cabin Eliza Television movie
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Herself Television movie
1988–90 A Different World Clair Hanks Huxtable 4 episodes
1989 False Witness Lynne Jacobi Television movie
1989 Polly Aunt Polly Television movie
1990 Reading Rainbow Herself Episode: "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters"
1990 Polly: Comin' Home! Aunt Polly Television movie
1990 The Earth Day Special Clair Huxtable Television special
1991 Jailbirds Janice Grant Television movie
1991 Blossom Blossom's Dream Mom Episode: "Blossom's Blossom"
1993 American Playhouse Mayor Turner Episode: "Hallelujah"
1994 David's Mother Gladys Johnson Television movie
1994-
2002
Touched by an Angel Elizabeth Jessup 2 episodes
1995 The Possession of Michael D Dr. Marion Hale Television movie
1995 In the House Rowena Episode: "Sister Act"
1995 Once Upon a Time...
When We Were Colored
Ma Ponk
1996 The Babysitter's Seduction Detective Kate Jacobs Television movie
1996–
2000
Cosby Ruth Lucas 92 episodes
1998 Intimate Portrait Herself/Narrator 4 episodes
1999 Free of Eden Desiree Television movie
2000 Loving Jezebel Alice Melville
2000 The Visit Dr. Coles
2001 Murder she wrote, The last free man Cassandra Hawkins Television movie
2001 The Old Settler Elizabeth Television movie
2001–04 Little Bill Brenda 2 episodes
2003 Great Women of Television and Comedy Herself Television movie
2007 Working in the Theatre Actor Episode: "August Wilson's Legacy"
2007 Everybody Hates Chris Kathleen Devereaux Episode: "Everybody Hates Kwanzaa"
2007–08 Psych Winnie Guster 2 episodes
2008 A Raisin in the Sun Lena Younger Television movie
2008 The Life & Times of Tim The Boss's Wife (voice) Episode: "Theo Strikes Back/Amy Gets Wasted"
2010 Just Wright Ella McKnight
2010 Frankie & Alice Edna
2010 For Colored Girls Gilda
2012 Good Deeds Wilimena
2012 The Cleveland Show Dee Dee Tubbs (voice) Episode: "Mama Drama"
2012 Steel Magnolias Clairee Television movie
2013 Gods Behaving Badly Demeter Filmed in 2011
2013 Do No Harm Dr. Vanessa Young Supporting role

Awards and honors[edit]

Year Organization Category Work Result
1985 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Cosby Show Nominated
1986 Nominated
1997 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Cosby Won
1998 Nominated
1999 Satellite Award Satellite Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated
2002 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special The Old Settler Nominated
2004 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play A Raisin in the Sun[2][14] Won
2005 Gem of the Ocean Nominated[2]
2008 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie A Raisin in the Sun Nominated
2009 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated
2011 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress For Colored Girls Won
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated


  • 2003: Honored as Woman of the Year by the Harvard Black Men's Forum
  • 2005: received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.) degree from Brown University[15]
  • 2011: received an honorary doctorate degree from Spelman College for her work in the Arts[16]
  • 2011: named the first Denzel Washington Chair professor in Theatre at Fordham University, supported by a $2 million gift from the actor[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tony Awards Wrap Up" by Amy Somensky. Jun 9, 2004]
  2. ^ a b c Tony Awards (official site)
  3. ^ "Phylicia Birthday-01948-June-19". Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  4. ^ Lawrence, Muhammad. - "One-woman dynamo". - The Courier-Journal. - September 12, 1999.
  5. ^ "About Phylicia Rashad". Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Phylicia Rashād to direct Seattle Repertory Theatre's Gem of the Ocean". Monsters and Critics. December 6, 2006. Retrieved December 11, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Phylicia Rashad directs August Wilson's 'Fences' at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton". The Star Ledger. January 5, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  8. ^ Dana Kennedy (September 20, 1996). "Pilot Errors This Fall Season". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  9. ^ ""Cosby" (1996)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  10. ^ Moses, Gavin (December 16, 1985). "Sportscaster Ahmad Rashād Scores with a Televised Proposal to Cosby's Phylicia Ayers-Allen". People. Retrieved October 31, 2009. 
  11. ^ Ken Shouler (1994). "Catching It All". Cigar Aficionado. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "Actress Phylicia Rashād Divorcing Sportscaster Husband Ahmad Rashād". Jet. 2001-03-05. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  14. ^ Monsters & Critics: "Tony Awards Wrap Up", by Amy Somensky. Jun 9, 2004
  15. ^ 04-126 (Honorary Degrees 2005)
  16. ^ "Michelle Obama Addresses 2011 Spelman Class; Joins Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad as Honorees". Rolling Out. May 16, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Denzel Washington donates $2.25 million to Fordham". The Wall Street Journal. October 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 

External links[edit]