Lela Rochon

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Lela Rochon
Lela Rochon 1998.jpg
Rochon at the New York City Essence Awards, 1998.
Born (1964-04-17) April 17, 1964 (age 58)
Years active1984–present
(m. 1982; div. 1987)

(m. 1999)

Lela Rochon Staples (born April 17, 1964)[2] is an American actress, best known for her starring role as Robin Stokes in the 1995 romantic drama film Waiting to Exhale.[3] She also had notable roles in the films Harlem Nights (1989), Boomerang (1992), The Chamber (1996), Gang Related (1997), Knock Off (1998), Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998), and Any Given Sunday (1999).

Early life[edit]

Rochon was born in Los Angeles,[citation needed] the daughter of Zelma, a nurse practitioner, and Samuel Staples, a business owner and graphic artist.[citation needed] She graduated from Cerritos High School in Cerritos, California in 1982.[4] After high school, Rochon attended California State University, Dominguez Hills where she earned a BA in Broadcast Journalism, with minors in Sociology and Theatre.[5] In 2016, Rochon returned to give the commencement speech at California State University, Dominguez Hills.[6]


Early works[edit]

In 1984, Rochon appeared as an extra in the movie Breakin’, where she met the man who would later become her husband. From 1986 to 1988, while attending college, Rochon was one of the "Spudettes" featured in over 30 national spots for the Spuds MacKenzie Budweiser/Bud Light TV commercials. She also appeared in the 1985 made-for-television film A Bunny's Tale starring Kirstie Alley and Delta Burke, based on Gloria Steinem's experiences as a Playboy Bunny. She appeared as the love interest of Gerald Levert in the video for "My Forever Love" by Levert,[7] and in Luther Vandross' "It's Over Now" video. She also appeared in the music video for Lionel Richie's single "All Night Long (All Night)", in Al B. Sure's video for the song "Natalie",[8] and in Tupac Shakur's video "I Get Around" as one of the female dancers. She had many guest starring roles in a number of sitcoms, include The Cosby Show, Amen, 227, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. Rochon made her film debut in 1985, when she starred opposite Fred Williamson in Fox Trap. In 1987, she played the role of Debby in the film The Wild Pair, starring Beau Bridges and Bubba Smith. In 1989, Rochon acted opposite Eddie Murphy in 1989's Harlem Nights, as the memorable "Sunshine" character. She again worked with Murphy in the successful 1992 romantic comedy, Boomerang. In 1995, she was regular cast member during the first season of The WB sitcom, The Wayans Bros.[9]


Rochon in 2010

In 1995, Rochon landed one of the lead roles opposite Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine in the adaptation of the Terry McMillan novel and highly successful drama film Waiting to Exhale. She played the character Robin Stokes, for which she was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. In 1996, Rochon starred opposite Timothy Hutton in the Showtime cable network film Mr. and Mrs. Loving, receiving a Cable Ace Award nomination for Best Actress. Later that year, she played the female lead in the crime thriller film The Chamber. The following year, she starred alongside Jim Belushi and Tupac Shakur in the crime thriller Gang Related. In 1998, Rochon had the leading role alongside Halle Berry and Vivica A. Fox in the romantic drama Why Do Fools Fall in Love, and well starred in Knock Off with Jean-Claude Van Damme, and The Big Hit, as love interest to Mark Wahlberg's leading character. In 1999, she appeared in Any Given Sunday directed by Oliver Stone. In 2001, Rochon made her return to television with one of leading roles alongside Bonnie Bedelia, Nancy McKeon, Tracey Needham, and Lisa Vidal in the Lifetime crime drama series, The Division. She left the series after a single season.[10]


In 2004, Rochon co-starred opposite Katie Holmes in the romantic comedy film First Daughter.[10] In 2009, she had cameo in crime drama Brooklyn's Finest directed by her husband, Antoine Fuqua.[10] In 2013, she played one of leading roles in Regina King's directorial debut Let The Church Say Amen, the film adaptation of ReShonda Tate Billingsley's 2005 novel for BET.[11] She later had roles in films Supremacy (2014) with Danny Glover and Derek Luke, and Reversion (2015), playing Aja Naomi King's character's mother.[12][13][14] In 2017, she had a recurring role in the CBS crime drama series Training Day, and in 2019 on the Oprah Winfrey Network drama David Makes Man.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Rochon has been married twice and has two children. Her first marriage was to dancer and actor Adolfo Quiñones, better known as Shabba Doo, from 1982 until divorcing in 1987. Rochon dated singer–songwriter Jackie Jackson from 1989 until 1991.[citation needed] In 1999, she married film director Antoine Fuqua. Together, they have two children; Asia Rochon Fuqua[16] and Brando.[citation needed] Rochon suffered a miscarriage in 2001.[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Breakin' Extra in First Scene
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo Dancer
1985 A Bunny's Tale Charlotte TV Movie
1986 Foxtrap Lindy
Stewardess School School Instructor
1987 The Wild Pair Debby
Into the Homeland Exquisite Woman TV Movie
1989 Harlem Nights Sunshine
1992 Boomerang Christie
1993 The Meteor Man Vanessa
1995 Waiting to Exhale Robin Stokes
1996 Mr. and Mrs. Loving Mildred 'Bean' Jeter TV Movie
The Chamber Nora Stark
1997 Gang Related Cynthia Webb
Legal Deceit Sydney Banks
1998 Ruby Bridges Lucielle 'Lucy' Bridges TV Movie
The Big Hit Chantel
Knock Off Karen Lee
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Emira Eagle
1999 Any Given Sunday Vanessa Struthers
The Charlotte Austin Story Charlotte Austin TV Movie
2000 Labor Pains Lulu Brown
2004 First Daughter Liz Pappas
2006 Running Out of Time in Hollywood
2009 Balancing the Books Sharlene
Brooklyn's Finest Investigator #1
2010 Blood Done Sign My Name Roseanna Allen
2013 Let the Church Say Amen Loretta Jackson TV Movie
2014 Supremacy Odessa
2015 Reversion Maya


Year Title Role Notes
1987 The Facts of Life Diana Episode: "The Greek Connection"
The Cosby Show Veronica Episode: "The Shower"
What's Happening Now!! Sharona Episode: "The Hat Comes Back"
1988 Amen Young Bride Episode: "Wedding Bell Blues"
1990 21 Jump Street Denise Price Episode: "Change of Heart"
227 Leslie Episode: "Gone Fishing"
1st & Ten Joy Brock Episode: "Don't Powerburst My Bubble"
1991 Generations Brandy Alexander Recurring Cast: Season 3
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Cindy Episode: "Will Gets a Job"
Detective Extralarge Wendy Episode: "Black & White"
1992 Homefront Mary Louise Episode: "At Your Age"
Roc Carol Episode: "Roc Throws Joey Out"
Tales from the Crypt Mercedes Episode: "Werewolf Concerto"
Hangin' with Mr. Cooper Paula Episode: "On the Rebound"
1993 Out All Night Victoria Episode: "Mall in the Family"
The Sinbad Show Denise Episode: "Pilot"
1994 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper Denise Episode: "The Courtship of Mark Cooper"
1995 The Wayans Bros. Lisa Main Cast: Season 1
1997 The Outer Limits Beth Carter Episode: "The Awakening"
2001 The Division Inspector Angela Reid Main Cast: Season 1
2011 Reed Between the Lines Sherri Episode: "Let's Talk About Affairs"
2017 Training Day Mrs. Craig Recurring Cast
2018 Alone Together Rose Episode: "Dinner Party"
2019 David Makes Man Alma Recurring Cast: Season 1
2021 Insecure Jackie Episode: "Pressure, Okay?!"
2022 Family Reunion Dr. Turner Episode: "Remember Stompin' the Yard?"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Movie/Serie Outcome
1996 MTV Movie Award MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance "Waiting to Exhale" Nominated
NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
1997 CableACE Award CableACE Award for Outstanding Actress in a Movie or Miniseries "Mr. and Mrs. Loving" Nominated


  1. ^ JET Magazine (Lela Rochon: 'Sunshine' Role In 'Harlem Nights' Open Doors To Film Career) (April 9, 1990)
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television By Bob McCann (Lela Rochon; 1964-)
  3. ^ "Angela Bassett Reaches a Stellar Groove at Last". The Los Angeles Times. 1996-03-30. Retrieved 2010-12-22.
  4. ^ 1982 Cerritos High School Yearbook (Cerritos, California)
  5. ^ Jet. 1998. ISSN 0021-5996.
  6. ^ "2016 Graduates Relish in the 'Words' and Draw from the 'Wisdom' Shared by Keynote Speakers During 5 Commencement Ceremonies" (Press release). California State University, Dominguez Hills. May 25, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  7. ^ Levert. "My Forever Love". music video. mtv.com. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  8. ^ Sure!, Al B. "Natalie". music video. mtv.com. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  9. ^ Tony Scott (16 January 1995). "The Wayans Bros". Variety. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  10. ^ a b c "Lela Rochon". Hollywood.com. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  11. ^ Tambay A. Obenson (14 September 2012). "Steve Harris, Naturi Naughton, Lela Rochon Headline Regin - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  12. ^ Tambay A. Obenson (26 June 2014). "Deon Taylor's Racially-Charged Thriller 'Supremacy' Picke - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  13. ^ Dave McNary (26 June 2014). "Danny Glover Supremacy U.S. Distribution - Variety". Variety. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  14. ^ Tambay A. Obenson (18 September 2015). "EXCLUSIVE Trailer & Poster: Aja Naomi King Headlines Sci- - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Archived from the original on 26 October 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  15. ^ Petski, Denise (25 October 2018). "OWN's 'David Makes Man' Adds Ten To Cast". Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  16. ^ a b JET Magazine (Actress Lela Rochon-Fuqua & Director Antoine Fuqua: Talk About Marriage, Parenthood And Their Busy Careers) (March 17, 2003)

External links[edit]