Ja'net Dubois

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Ja'net Dubois
Good Times 1976.JPG
Dubois as Willona Woods on Good Times, 1975.
Born Jeannette Dubois
(1945-08-05) August 5, 1945 (age 71)
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1966–present
Known for Willona WoodsGood Times
Children 3

Jeannette "Ja'net" Dubois (also billed as Ja'net Du Bois) (/ɑːnˈ djbwˈɑː/; 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).[1]

Life and early career[edit]

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.

Good Times[edit]

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.[2] 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.

Later career[edit]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

Film and television[edit]

Year(s) Title Role
1966 A Man Called Adam Martha
1969 J.T. Rodeen Gamble
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
 1975       Friday Foster
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)
1986 Stranded Bettina
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
1995 Magic Island Lucretia
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
1998 Hard Time Lefty
1999 Waterproof Viola Battle
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
2004 Waterproof Viola Battle
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[edit]

Year Award Category Film Result
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[6]
2001 Primetime Emmy Outstanding Voice-Over Performance The PJs Won
2006 TV Land Image Award Good Times Won[7]


  1. ^ "TV Actress Ja'Net Dubois To Appear On 'Arsenio'". 82 (6). Jet. June 1, 1992: 60. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  2. ^ McCann, Bob. Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland & Company. p. 103-104. ISBN 0786458046. Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Actor Clifton Davis Stars in Maya Angelou's New Musical". 82 (20). Jet. September 7, 1992: 60. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Adrienne Brown Mourned, After Mysterious Death Following Liposuction Surgery". 89 (11). Jet. January 29, 1996: 58. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "A Grand Lady as a Grand Marshall". July 31, 2000. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Ja'Net Dubois And Judith Jamison Win Primetime Emmy Awards". Jet. September 20, 1999: 34. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Christian, Margena A. (January 28, 2008). "The Cast of 'Good Times'?". 113 (3). Jet: 31. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 

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