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Retta 2012 (cropped).jpg
Retta in 2012
Born Marietta Sirleaf
(1970-04-12) April 12, 1970 (age 44)
New Jersey
Alma mater Duke University
Occupation Actress, stand-up comedian

Marietta Sirleaf,[1] better known simply as Retta, is an American stand-up comedian and actress. She is mainly known for her role as Donna Meagle on NBC's Parks and Recreation. She has appeared in several films and television shows, and has performed stand-up on Comedy Central's Premium Blend.

Early life[edit]

Retta (born April 12) is from New Jersey, and graduated from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She started working in the pharmaceutical research field before moving to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a career in comedy.[2] Retta started performing stand-up comedy in 1996, although she said she did not start "earning money" until 1998, when she started touring on the college circuit. Retta said she used to get "really nauseated" before a performance, but that the feeling passed with experience.[3] Retta has said her stand-up material tends to be slightly embellished stories from her regular everyday life, family, and friends.[2][4] She has also made jokes about her obesity.[5] Retta has stated she would give up stand-up comedy for a full-time acting career if possible: "I'm not married to stand-up, just because it's a road thing. It's very lonely with all the traveling."[6]

Comedy career[edit]

Retta has served as the opening act for such comedians as Shirley Hemphill and Bobby Collins.[3] She has made television appearances on E! Entertainment Television's The Soup,[4] Freddie, Moesha, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,[6] the "Comedy Divas Showcase" segment of The Jenny Jones Show,[7] Retta has performed on Premium Blend, a Comedy Central show featuring up-and-coming comedians.[3]

In 2009, Retta started making regular guest appearances on the NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation as Donna Meagle, an employee in the parks department of a fictional Indiana town. During a stand-up performance at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Retta said the acting job on the show was stressful because it was unclear how long the show would stay on the air, because of the poor reviews it received during the first season.[4] Alan Sepinwall, television columnist with The Star-Ledger, said second season episodes of Parks and Recreation have afforded more personality and funnier jokes to Donna and other minor characters.[8] She was upgraded to a full-time regular cast member in the third season.

Retta also hosted the 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards in 2013. In 2014, Retta appeared on Hollywood Game Night as a contestant along with other celebrities Paget Brewster, Michael Chiklis, Mario Lopez, Thomas Lennon, and Alyssa Milano.


Retta has appeared in the films Slackers, First Sunday,[9] Fracture, Sex and Death 101,[5] and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.[4]


Retta has played Donna in all 7 seasons of the NBC show Parks and Recreation.

Retta also made a guest appearance on FX's show It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia (season 4 episode 12 The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover Edition).

Retta makes an appearance in season 2 episode 3 of Drunk History as Sylvia Robinson.

Personal life[edit]

Retta's aunt by a former marriage is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the current President of Liberia.[10]


  1. ^ Retta - Donna Meagle Parks and Recreation,
  2. ^ a b Azzi, Amy (January 28, 2009). "Comedian took long route to comedy". Royal Purple News (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater). Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Eells, Kelly Feser (June 6, 2003). "T-150 seats down for stand-up guys". Ojai Valley News. Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d Dunn, Valeree (October 14, 2009). "Performer Spotlight on... Retta". UIS Journal. Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Jorgensen, Steve (April 10, 2008). "Comedian Retta comes to UW-P". The Exponent (University of Wisconsin–Platteville). Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Haynes, Robert (November 17, 2009). "Comedian Retta brings glee to bear country". The Echo (University of Central Arkansas). 
  7. ^ Ory, Marie (March 15, 2001). "Laughter -- the medicine of life". The Nicholls Worth. Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  8. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (November 5, 2009). "Parks and Recreation, "Ron and Tammy": Megan Mullally guests". The Star-Ledger (New Jersey On-Line). Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Retta, green forum slated at Brookdale". Holmdel Independent. February 12, 2009. Retrieved November 17, 2009. 
  10. ^ Chaney, Jen (October 7, 2011). "What’s the connection between a Nobel Prize winner and ‘Parks and Recreation’?". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 

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