L. Scott Caldwell
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|L. Scott Caldwell|
Caldwell in 2007
April 17, 1950
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Other names||Scotty Caldwell|
Life and career
Born Laverne Scott in Chicago, she started her career in 1978 as a member of the famed Negro Ensemble Company, making her Broadway debut two years later in the Tony Award nominated play Home. She has starred in world premier and regional productions across the country, including works by Wole Soyinda, Athol Fugard, Neil Simon, and Regina Taylor. Caldwell earned a degree in Theater Arts and Communications from Loyola University Chicago. She has an extensive background in theater, feature films, and television. Her film credits include Waiting to Exhale, The Net, The Fugitive, Like Dandelion Dust and Powder Blue.
In 2010, Caldwell played the lead role in the short film Lisa Trotter, directed by fellow Chicagoan Hawthorne James. Caldwell had recurring roles on Judging Amy, Lost, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Southland. She has guest-starred in over fifty television series episodes and made for television movies including JAG, Chicago Hope, City of Angels and Promised Land,. Her additional television credits include The Practice, Any Day Now, Murder One, The Pretender, ER, Nip/Tuck, L.A. Law, Ghost Whisperer, Cold Case, Saving Grace, State of Mind, and The Cosby Show. In 2003, she was a cast as a main character, Judge Rose Barnea, in the CBS series Queens Supreme.
On Broadway, Caldwell won a 1988 Tony Award for her portrayal of Bertha Holly in Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Her other Broadway credits include Proposals, A Month of Sundays and Home. She has also appeared off Broadway in About Heaven & Earth, Colored People's Time, Old Phantoms, A Season to Unravel, The Imprisonment of Obatala" and Going to St. Ives.
Her most recent appearances have been in the television series Southland and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and films Powder Blue, Like Dandelion Dust, and Gridiron Gang. Caldwell is most widely known for her portrayal of Rose on Lost.
Born the middle child in Chicago, Illinois to working class parents, Laverne Scott grew up in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side. At a high enrollment elementary school she attended the morning session, and her older siblings went to school in the afternoon. When the school released her at noon she was escorted to a neighborhood theater where she was minded by a friend of her mother. While attending Hyde Park High School, she joined the drama club. Her class went to see a performance of A Day of Absence, featuring Douglas Turner Ward, a co-founder of The Negro Ensemble Company. It was the first time she saw professional black actors on stage. After graduating high school in 1967, she attended Northwestern University. She left after one year and went to work full-time as an operator at Illinois Bell. She got married and had a son. She transferred her credits to Loyola University-Chicago and earned a bachelor's degree in Theater Arts and Communications.
Caldwell planned on a teaching career and taught at Chicago High School of the Performing Arts. She also worked a year for the Chicago Council on Fine Arts as an artist-in-residence. While in Chicago Caldwell performed in local theatrical productions at the Body Politic, Court Theater, and Eleventh Street Theater. She went to New York in 1978 to audition for Uta Hagen's school HB Studio. While waiting to audition she saw an ad for The Negro Ensemble Company. After her audition at Hagen's school she took the subway to the NEC. Caldwell was initially rebuffed by the person who interviewed her but she insisted on meeting with Ward. She used the three pieces she performed at her audition for Hagen. She was accepted by both Hagen and Ward. During her first season at NEC Caldwell performed in several plays. One of those plays, Home, by Samm Art Williams, took her to Broadway's Cort Theatre in 1980. The play was critically acclaimed and earned a Tony Award nomination for Charles Brown. After Home closed Caldwell worked in several regional theater productions including Boesman and Lena at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, and A Raisin in the Sun at Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo, New York.
In December 1984, while working in Play of Giants, Caldwell was struck by a car while hailing a cab on Columbus Avenue in New York. She suffered a severe back injury and was unable to work for nearly two years. Her first audition after her recovery was for August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Her performance as Bertha Holly earned her a 1988 Tony Award. Soon after winning the Tony, she moved to southern California to work in television and film. She is extremely busy, working in several cities in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa, and continues to work in theater. She returned to Broadway in 1997 as the lead in Neil Simon's short-lived Proposals. After Proposals closed Caldwell performed the role of Leah, Little Augie's sister, in New York City Center's Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert production of St. Louis Woman.
In 2006, she made her Goodman Theatre debut in Regina Taylor's The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove. In 2011, she took on role of Lena Younger in the Ebony Repertory Theatre production of the Lorraine Hansberry classic A Raisin in the Sun. The play was directed by Phylicia Rashad. Caldwell, along with the entire cast, was nominated for the LA Stage Alliance 2011 Ovation Award for her work as Lena, for which she won the 2011 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award.
Caldwell is an active member of Unite For Strength, the Screen Actors Guild coalition in favor of joining with AFTRA. On September 19, 2008, she won a seat as an alternate on the national board of directors and Hollywood division board of directors. Caldwell was elected to a second one-year term September 24, 2009. She served on the Seniors, Legislative, Women, Holiday Host, Honors and Tributes, and EEOC committees. In September 2010, she was elected to a one-year term on the national board of directors. She served as the national chair of the Women's committee. In 2011, Caldwell is on the SAG national board of directors ballot for a fourth consecutive year. She won a three-year term on the national and Hollywood boards. She will serve as national chair of Women, and Healthcare Safetynet committees.
In 2016, she was part of the six-part PBS Civil War drama miniseries "Mercy Street".
In her early twenties Scott married John Caldwell and had a son, Ominara. She was divorced in the early 1980s, and was married again (on her birthday) in 2004 to artist/photographer/director Dasal Banks. Banks suffered from cancer and died in May 2005. Caldwell completed his final film, My Brothers and Me, a documentary created to raise awareness about prostate cancer among black men.
Caldwell gives lectures and appears on panels concerning African American actors. In 2007, she participated in tributes to August Wilson at Goodman Theatre in conjunction with Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago, and at St. Louis Black Repertory Company. In June 2008, she participated in the NAACP Theatre Awards Festival Actors on Acting panel. In June 2009, Caldwell moderated a panel of actors, directors, and casting directors discussing African American Images in Hollywood. In February 2010, she directed a staged reading of Standing On My Sisters' Shoulders for the Los Angeles chapter of Actors Equity Association.
Awards and nominations
- 2011 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Lead Performance and Ensemble Performance – A Raisin in the Sun
- 2006 BTAA Award for Best leading actress in a play – The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove
- 2005 Obie Award for Performance in a play – Going to St. Ives
- 1998 Helen Hayes Award for Supporting actress in a non-resident production – Proposals
- 1997 Drama-Logue Award for Performance in a play – Proposals
- 1990 Drama-Logue Award for Ensemble performance – From The Mississippi Delta
- 1988 Tony Award for Featured actress in a play – Joe Turner's Come & Gone
- 2011 Ovation Award for Best Acting Ensemble in a Play – A Raisin in the Sun
- 2007 Gemini Award (Canadian television) for Best actress in a guest performance – Jozi-H
- 2005 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding actress in a play – Going to St. Ives
- 1998 FANY (FAns of NY Theatre) Award for Outstanding actress in a play – Proposals
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"I didn't say to myself 'I want to be an actress' or anything like that. But I loved film, and I loved what they [Bette Davis & Loretta Young] did." St. Louis Post-Dispatch July 1, 1988
"The first play my mother ever saw I was in." Chicago Tribune November 30, 1997
"I didn't have dance lessons or anything when I was growing up.... I didn't have background in the arts at all. I used to like to pretend when I was a kid, so I would hide in the closet and make up stories and pretend to be other people." Chicago Tribune November 30, 1997
"When you stop acting is when you feel it. On your day off, everything shuts down and you have to start all over again at the next performance.... There is nothing else quite like the high of live theater." The Plain Dealer December 14, 1997
"When you meet somebody that are in the final stages of their life, the other person, or the healthy person, is gonna do all they can to keep you living. The person that's going through it, ...after they have been fighting for so long, you just reach that fork in the road where you can keep going down that path of struggle. Or you can stand where you are, and accept where you are, and accept it as a blessing. And that's a very powerful place to be. It's good to let people know that there is life. There is life. There is life. There is life. That it doesn't stop you from being able to live. And it doesn't stop you from being able to love. And to find the love of your life, at the end of your life is an amazing thing. It's just a gift from God." Lost, Season Two On Location extras DVD, 2006
While working in the Ebony Repertory Theatre production of A Raisin in the Sun Caldwell said she had done the play "...enough times to play every character except Mama. I've played Ruth, and I've even played Travis in a high school production." LA Stage Times March 23, 2011
"Remember three things in this profession - dream, have faith and practice your craft. Keep your dream alive; allow yourself to sit and dream of the life you desire. If you want to play Lady Macbeth, practice her at home. Keep the faith and know that there is a community of others like you that you are a part of. It's helpful to realize that most of us within the community have struggled, overcome and persevered; and if the right opportunity doesn't present itself - create your own vehicle." Equity News October/November 2011
- Chicago Defender "Loyola Opens Season With Versatile Seasoned Cast", October 5, 1974 p. A5
- Chicago Defender "Other Cinderella Premieres at Club Misty", August 7, 1975 p. 15
- Kuchwara, Michael St. Louis Post-Dispatch Everyday Magazine "Tony Winner Knew It In Her Heart", July 1, 1988 p. 8F
- Weiss, Hedy Chicago Sun-Times, July 14, 1988 p. 39
- Mitchell, Ophelia DeVore The Columbus Times "Tony Award Winning Actress Puts Her Philosophy of Enriching Others' Lives To Practice" vol. XXVII issue 35, August 28, 1988 p.A1
- Jackson, Caroline Black Masks "L. Scott Caldwell: Laughter in One Hand; The Tony in the Other" vol. 4 issue 9, August 31, 1988 p. 4
- Bogle, Donald Black Arts Annual 1987-1988 1989
- Hay, Samuel A. African American Theatre - An Historical And Critical Analysis, 1994 pgs. 142, 146, 158, 159, 161, 169
- Isherwood, Charles Variety, "Proposals" July 26, 1997
- Flatow, Sheryl Playbill, "Neil Simon Tells Love Stories in Proposals" November 18, 1997
- Kilian, Michael Chicago Tribune, "Serious Simon - Play Has Its Critics, But Its Leading Actresses Find Acclaim" November 30, 1997 Arts & Entertainment p. 10
- Kuchwara, Michael The Plain Dealer "Sweet Role Entices Actress to Simon Play: Maid A Major Role in Proposals", December 14, 1997 Arts section p. 101
- Simon, Neil The Play Goes On: A Memoir, 2002 p. 318
- Oldenburg, Ann USA Today "Love Is No Longer Color-coded On TV", December 20, 2005
- Pietrusiak, Leah Time Out Chicago "5 Minutes With L. Scott Caldwell", June 22–28, 2006
- Woulfe, Molly The Times of Northwest Indiana "Lost Actress Recaps Life on the Island", June 30, 2006
- Lost: The Official Magazine "By The Fire: L. Scott Caldwell & Sam Anderson", Issue #5 July/August 2006 p. 30
- Vaughn, Kenya St. Louis American "Black Rep Goes Beyond August Wilson", March 28, 2007
- Hill, Anthony D. Historical Dictionary of African American Theater, 2009 p. 81
- Cairns, Bryan Lost The Official Magazine "By The Fire: Revolution Resolution", Issue #24 2009 Yearbook Sep/Oct 2009 p. 70
- Donloe, Darlene LA Stage Times "Phylicia Rashad Takes the Direct Approach", March 23, 2011
- McCollester, Maggie Equity News "L. Scott Caldwell Welcomes New Members" vol 96 number 8, October/November 2011, p. 8