DeLaria in 2013
May 23, 1958 |
Belleville, Illinois, U.S.
Lea DeLaria (born May 23, 1958) is an American comedian, actress, and jazz musician. The "famously controversial" DeLaria was "the first openly gay comic to break the late-night talk-show barrier" with her 1993 appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. She is best known for her portrayal of inmate Big Boo on Netflix original series Orange is the New Black.
DeLaria was born in Belleville, Illinois, the daughter of Jerry Jean (née Cox), a homemaker, and Robert George DeLaria, a jazz pianist and social worker. Her paternal grandparents were Italian. She attended kindergarten through eighth grade at St. Mary's Elementary School in Belleville, and has referenced her Catholic upbringing in her performances.
DeLaria's stand-up career began in 1982 when she moved to San Francisco and performed raunchy stand-up comedy in the Mission District. Discussing her stand up, Delaria says, "This is who I am, when I'm up there. This is it. I'm a big butch dyke. That's who I am. And I'm a friendly one. I'm a big butch dyke with a smile on my face."
In 1986, DeLaria directed "Ten Percent Revue", a musical revue with songs related to homosexuality and most of which reflect pride in being gay. "Ten Percent Revue" was performed in Boston, San Francisco, Provincetown, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Many shows were sold out.
When DeLaria appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1993, she was the first openly gay comic to appear on a late-night talk-show. While appearing on the show, DeLaria said, "Hello everybody, my name is Lea DeLaria, and it's great to be here, because it's the 1990s! It's hip to be queer! I'm a big dyke." DeLaria later said she had been told that she should not have used the term dyke on the air. Hall later defended her, saying, "If she wants to call herself a dyke, that's her business."
DeLaria is also known for her touring "musical comedy about perverts", Dos Lesbos (1987–1989), as well as Girl Friday, a comedy she conceived, wrote, directed and starred in, and which won the 1989 Golden Gull for Best Comedy Group in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
DeLaria has released two CD recordings of her comedy, Bulldyke in a China Shop (1994) and Box Lunch (1997). She has also written a humorous book entitled Lea's Book of Rules for the World.
DeLaria appeared as Jane in the 1998 Off Broadway production of Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, "a gay retelling of the Bible." Entertainment Weekly said "a star is born with Lea DeLaria" of her "showstopping" performance as Hildy Esterhazy in the 1998 Broadway revival of On the Town. DeLaria subsequently played Eddie and Dr. Scott in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show, and can be heard on the cast recording.
DeLaria integrates musical performance into her stand-up comedy, focusing on traditional and modern be-bop jazz. She has even said at her shows "It is my personal goal to bring be-bop jazz back into the gay and lesbian community." In 2001 she released a CD of jazz standards called Play It Cool. This was followed by the album Double Standards in 2003, and by The Very Best of Lea DeLaria in 2008.
In 2001, DeLaria was the voice of Helga Phugly on the short-lived, animated sitcom, The Oblongs. In 1999 DeLaria played the recurring role of Madame Delphina on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live, returning in 2008 as both Delphina and Professor Delbert Fina. She continued to portray Delphina on a recurring basis until 2011.
In 2008, Warner Records released The Live Smoke Sessions, DeLaria's first recording focused on "timeless pop standards" such as "Down With Love," "Night and Day," "Love Me or Leave Me" and "Come Rain or Come Shine." She noted, "I styled this CD on the old school live recordings ... It is my hope that this CD will take you back to 1948 and the Village Vanguard. So please let me invite you to mix a cocktail and enjoy a smoke while you sit back and soak up the swing."
In November 2008, DeLaria completed a tour of Australia, playing Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. She also frequently collaborates with comedian Maggie Cassella, most notably on an annual Christmas cabaret show in Toronto, Ontario which also sometimes tours to several other Canadian and US cities.
In July 2010, DeLaria's version of "All That Jazz" was used on So You Think You Can Dance. DeLaria is currently performing in Prometheus Bound at The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
On February 14, 2015, DeLaria received the Equality Illinois Freedom Award for her work as "a cutting-edge performer who has used her talent to entertain and enlighten millions of Americans," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. On receiving the award at the 2015 Equality Illinois Gala in Chicago, DeLaria said, "As an out performer for over 33 years who has made it her life's work to change peoples perception of butch, queer and LGBT, it is an honor for me to receive such recognition from my home state. I feel I’m doing Belleville proud. Go Maroons!"
In January 2015, DeLaria became engaged to fashion editor Chelsea Fairless after two and a half years of dating. The two met through Fairless's friend, actress Emma Myles, who plays Leanne in Orange is the New Black. In January 2017, DeLaria confirmed she and Fairless had separated.
- 1994: Bulldyke in a Chinashop
- 1997: Box Lunch (Rising Star)
- 2001: Play It Cool (Warner/WEA)
- 2005: Double Standards (Telarc)
- 2006: The Very Best of Lea DeLaria (Rhino/WEA UK)
- 2008: Lea DeLaria – The Live Smoke Sessions (Ghostlight Records)
- 2015: House of David (Ghostlight Records)
- 2005: Din and Tonic – Janette Mason (Fireball Records)
- 2006: Drawn to All Things – Ian Shaw Sings the Songs of Joni Mitchell – Ian Shaw (Linn Records)
- 2009: Alien Left Hand – Janette Mason (Fireball Records)
Broadway and film
- 1998: On the Town – Broadway Revival Cast- "Hildy Esterhazy"
- 1999: Edge of Seventeen – Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack – Blue Skies (Razor and Tie)
- 2001: The Rocky Horror Show – 2000 Broadway Revival Cast (RCA Victor Broadway)
- 2005: Hair – Actors’ Fund of America Benefit Recording (Ghostlight)
|1996||The First Wives Club||Elise's fan||National Board of Review Award: Best Acting by an Ensemble|
|1997||Plump Fiction||Mr. Purple|
|1998||Edge of Seventeen||Angie|
|2006||Fat Rose and Squeaky||Fat Rose||Co-starring Cicely Tyson as 'Squeaky'|
|2013||Dear Dumb Diary||Ms. Bruntford|
|2016||Bear with Us||Chief Ranger Stewart (voice)|
|2017||Cars 3||Miss Fritter (voice)|
|1993||Out There||Herself||TV film|
|1993||Camp Christmas||Herself||TV film|
|1993||In the Life||Herself/Guest host||1 episode|
|1994||Matlock||Det. Pat Jordan||2 episodes|
|1994–95||The John Larroquette Show||Lorelei||2 episodes|
|1995||Tom Clancy's Op Center||Capt. White||TV film|
|1995||Saved by the Bell: The New Class||Miss Hearst||1 episode|
|1995||Out There in Hollywood||Herself||Sequel to the 1993 TV movie Out There|
|1996||Friends||Woman||Episode: "The One with the Lesbian Wedding"|
|1997||The Drew Carey Show||Jewel||1 episode|
|1998||In Through The Out Door||Various characters (also writer)||TV film|
|1998||We're Funny That Way!||Herself||Documentary|
|1999||Great Performances||Herself/Performer||TV series|
|1999–2011||One Life to Live||Madame Delphina||31 episodes|
|2000||The Beat||Kathy||Unknown episodes|
|2001||Further Tails of the City||Willie Omiak||TV mini-series|
|2001||The Oblongs||Helga Phugly||7 episodes|
|2001||The Job||Kiki||1 episode|
|2002||Just for Laughs||Herself/Performer||TV Movie|
|2003||Will & Grace||Nurse Carver||1 episode|
|2003||The Award Show Awards Show||Herself||TV special|
|2004||Mercury in Retrograde||Betsy Brick||TV short|
|2009||Ptown Diaries||DeLaria||TV movie|
|2009||Law and Order SVU||Frankie (bodyguard)||season 10 episode 14|
|2012||Californication||Debbie||Season 5 Episode 8|
|2013||Dear Dumb Diary||Ms. Bruntford||TV film|
|2013–present||Orange Is the New Black||Carrie "Big Boo" Black||recurring season 1-3, Regular season 4- (36 episodes)|
Awards and nominations
|1998||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||On The Town||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Won|
|2015||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Orange Is the New Black||Won|
|Orlando Film Festival||Best Ensemble Cast in a Feature Film||Bear with Us||Won|
|2017||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Orange Is the New Black||Won|
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- "Double Standards". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
- Murray, Jesse (July 1, 2008). "Madame Delphina Sees All". SOAPnet. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
- "Lea Delaria: Live Smoke Sessions To Be Released 9/9". BroadwayWorld.com. September 9, 2008. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
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- "BOOM". boom.lgbt. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
- "EQIL Honors Lea DeLaria with Freedom Award". chicagoactivism.org. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
- Corriston, Michele. "Orange Is the New Black Star Lea DeLaria Is Engaged". People. February 6, 2015.
- Webber, Stephanie. "Orange Is the New Black's Lea DeLaria, Fiancee Chelsea Fairless Split, Call Off Engagement". Us Weekly. January 12, 2017.
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