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Dubois as Willona Woods on Good Times, 1975.
August 5, 1945
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
|Known for||Willona Woods – Good Times|
Jeannette "Ja'net" Dubois (also billed as Ja'net Du Bois) (/ /; born August 5, 1945) is an American actress and singer. Dubois is best known for her portrayal of Willona Woods on the CBS sitcom Good Times which originally aired from 1974 to 1979. She also co–wrote and sang the theme song of the sitcom, The Jeffersons (1975–85).
Life and early career
Dubois was born in Brooklyn, New York. Among her other credits, she appeared in the 1969 made–for–TV holiday film J.T.; Love of Life between 1970–72 as Loretta Allen. In 1970, Dubois played the role of a quarrelsome laundress alongside Carrie Snodgrass in the cult classic "Diary of a Mad Housewife". She has appeared on several shows as a guest star, including a 1972 role on Sanford and Son, as Fred's old flame Juanita.
Her appearance in a play of Hot l Baltimore at Mark Taper Forum got her noticed by Norman Lear, and led to her being cast in Good Times and in films. Dubois was often cast as characters older than her true age; when Good Times premiered in 1974, Dubois was 28, just two years older than Jimmie Walker. The character of Willona was supposed to be close in age to that portrayed by Esther Rolle, who was 53 at the time. According to most sources, Rolle enjoyed working with Dubois, despite the age difference. After John Amos was fired from the show, with his character James Evans being killed off, Rolle disagreed with the show's new direction, and left the show herself. Her departure made Dubois the de facto star of the series, alongside Walker.
She also appeared in former Good Times co-star Janet Jackson's 1987 "Control" music video as her mother. In 1992, she co-starred alongside Clifton Davis in a play, And I Still Rise written and directed by Maya Angelou and the artistic director was Larry Leon Hamlin. Dubois won an CableACE Award for her work on the TV movie Other Women's Children based on the novel by Perri Klass, and she also two Emmy Awards for her voiceover work on the animated program The PJs (1999). She co-starred in the movie I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) and the sitcoms Moesha and The Steve Harvey Show. She played the grandmother on the hit show The Wayans Bros., and appeared in the 2003 movie Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.
Dubois has three children; Rani (former actress), Yovanne and Burghadt Dubois. In 1996, Dubois was one of the attendees of Adrienne Lois Brown, James Brown's wife's, funeral. Like her late mentor Esther Rolle, Dubois is a member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority. In 2000, in her hometown of Amityville, New York, she was honored as the grand marshal for the North Amityville Community Parade and Festival Day.
Film and television
|1966||A Man Called Adam||Martha|
|1970–1972||Love of Life (unknown episodes)||Loretta Allen|
|1972||Sanford and Son (1 episode)||Juanita|
|1973||The Resolution of Mossie Wax|
|1973||Five on the Black Hand Side||Stormy Monday|
|1973||Shaft (1 episode)||Diana Richie|
|1973||The Blue Knight||Celia Louise|
|1974–1979||Good Times (133 episodes)||Willona Woods|
|1974||Kojak (1 episode)||Paula Thomas|
|1975||Caribe (1 episode)||Melinda Jameson|
|1977||A Piece of the Action||Nellie Bond|
|1979||Roots: The Next Generations||Sally Harvey|
|1980||The Love Boat (1 episode)||Evelyn Hopkins|
|1981||Hellinger's Law||Dottie Singer|
|1981||The Facts of Life (1 episode)||Ethel, Tootie's Grandmother|
|1981||The Sophisticated Gents||Onetha Wiggins|
|1983||The Tom Swift and Linda Craig Mystery Hour||Mrs. Gorman|
|1985||Crazy Like a Fox||(1 episode)|
|1987||Kids Like These||Mrs. Page|
|1988||Houston Knights||(1 episode)|
|1988||I'm Gonna Git You Sucka||Ma Bell|
|1989||Nearly Departed (1 episode)||Clerk|
|1990||Penny Ante: The Motion Picture||Aunt|
|1990||Heart Condition||Mrs. Stone|
|1990||New Attitude (1 episode)||Irma|
|1990||Doctor Doctor (1 episode)||Ella Wilkes|
|1990||Hammer, Slammer, & Slade||Joanne Wilson|
|1991||A Different World (1 episode)||Brenda Hanes|
|1991||True Colors (1 episode)||May Freeman|
|1991||Dream On (1 episode)||June|
|1992||Beverly Hills, 90210 (1 episode)||Arlene|
|1992,1993||The Golden Palace (2 episodes)||Louise Wilson|
|1993||Harlan & Merleen||Maxine|
|1994||Sister, Sister (1 episode)||Mother O'Dantelle|
|1994||Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (1 episode)||Dorothy Cooper|
|1991,1995||Home Improvement (2 episodes)||Carol / ...|
|1995||ER (1 episode)||Macy Chamberlain|
|1996||Sophie & the Moonhanger||Agnes|
|1996||Don't Look Back||Mrs. Lawson|
|1997||Moesha (1 episode)||Mrs. Moss|
|1997||Touched by an Angel (1 episode)||Esther Hamilton|
|1996–1998||The Wayans Bros. (10 episodes)||various roles|
|1995||Martin: All The Players Came||Herself|
|1998||Best Friends for Life||Katie Pegues|
|1999||Clueless (1 episode)||Mrs. Davenport|
|1999||Hard Time: Hostage Hotel||Lefty, Logan's Assistant|
|1999–2001||The PJs (42 episodes)||Mrs. Florence Avery|
|2000||The Steve Harvey Show (1 episode)||Delores|
|2000||Everybody Loves Raymond (1 episode)||Dottie|
|2000,2002||As Told by Ginger (2 episodes)||Mrs. Patterson|
|2003||Boomtown (1 episode)||Denise Smith|
|2003||One on One (1 episode)||Queen Esther|
|2003||Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle||Momma Bosley|
|2006||Crossing Jordan (1 episode)||Mrs. Jones|
|2007||Random! Cartoons (1 episode)||Mom|
|2007||Cold Case (1 episode)||Edna Johnson|
|2011||G.I. Joe: Renegades||Grams Hinton|
Awards and nominations
|1998||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Touched by an Angel||Nominated|
|1999||Primetime Emmy||Outstanding Voice-Over Performance||The PJs||Won|
|2001||Primetime Emmy||Outstanding Voice-Over Performance||The PJs||Won|
|2006||TV Land||Image Award||Good Times||Won|
- "TV Actress Ja'Net Dubois To Appear On 'Arsenio'" 82 (6). Jet. June 1, 1992: 60. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- McCann, Bob. Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland & Company. p. 103-104. ISBN 0786458046. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- "Actor Clifton Davis Stars in Maya Angelou's New Musical" 82 (20). Jet. September 7, 1992: 60. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- "Adrienne Brown Mourned, After Mysterious Death Following Liposuction Surgery" 89 (11). Jet. January 29, 1996: 58. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- "A Grand Lady as a Grand Marshall". July 31, 2000. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- "Ja'Net Dubois And Judith Jamison Win Primetime Emmy Awards". Jet. September 20, 1999: 34. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- Christian, Margena A. (January 28, 2008). "The Cast of 'Good Times'?" 113 (3). Jet: 31. Retrieved 19 April 2015.