|Education||Juilliard School (BFA)|
Toussaint began her career in theatre before supporting performances in films such as Breaking In (1989), Hudson Hawk (1991), and Dangerous Minds (1995). As lead actress, she is best known for her role as Rene Jackson in the critically acclaimed Lifetime television drama series Any Day Now, from 1998 to 2002, and her recurring role as defense attorney Shambala Green in the NBC legal drama Law & Order. Toussaint later appeared as a regular cast member in the NBC police procedural Crossing Jordan (2002–03) and the TNT crime drama Saving Grace (2007–10).
Toussaint received critical acclaim and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her performance in the 2012 drama film Middle of Nowhere, written and directed by Ava DuVernay. In 2014, she played the role of Yvonne "Vee" Parker, the main antagonist in the second season of the Netflix comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black, for which she received critical acclaim and a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She later played the role of Amelia Boynton Robinson in the 2014 historical drama film Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay. Toussaint later co-starred in the ABC fantasy-drama series Forever (2014–15), Fox comedy-drama Rosewood (2015–17) and AMC drama Into the Badlands (2018–19). She starred in the 2019 horror film Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Toussaint was born in Trinidad and Tobago. In an interview she said: "I grew up under the British system, which I think is horrific for children -- very, very strict -- a system that did not recognize children as being individuals. You were small animals earning the right to be human. Childhood for me then felt extraordinarily powerless, and as an artistic child who learned in alternative ways, it was hell. I was beaten regularly... A good child was a fearful child, and I was a very, very, good little girl, which meant I lived in a world of silent, dark terror most of the time." Her mother was a teacher, and brought Toussaint to live in Brooklyn in the late 1960s.
Toussaint graduated from Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts in 1978. She then attended the Juilliard School's drama division as a member of Group 11 (1978–1982), where her classmates in 1982 included Megan Gallagher, Penny Johnson Jerald, Jack Kenny, and Jack Stehlin. Toussaint graduated from Juilliard with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She then began her career as a Shakespearean actress before tackling screen acting in television and film.
Toussaint made her screen debut in 1983. In 1986 she played the role of widow of a man shot and killed by Boston cops in the television film A Case of Deadly Force based on the book by Lawrence O'Donnell. She later had a recurring role of Vera Williams in the ABC daytime soap opera, One Life to Live, and alongside stage career appeared in guest starring roles in series like 227 and Law & Order (as recurring defense lawyer Shambala Green), and acted in a number of television films in the 1990s.
Toussaint has made her film debut in the female lead role opposite Burt Reynolds in the crime comedy Breaking In (1989). The film received positive reviews from critics, but flopped in box office. In 1991 she appeared opposite Bruce Willis in Hudson Hawk, and later co-starred alongside Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds (1995). She also appeared in films Point of No Return (1993), Mother's Boys (1994), and Black Dog (1998). On television, Toussaint had regular roles in short-lived series Bodies of Evidence (CBS, 1992), Where I Live (ABC, 1993), Amazing Grace (NBC, 1995), and Leaving L.A. (ABC, 1997).
Toussaint had her biggest and leading role alongside Annie Potts in the Lifetime first original television drama series, Any Day Now. She starred in show as Rene Jackson, a successful African-American lawyer. The series has received critical acclaim for Toussaint's and Potts' acting performances and writing, but never had big ratings. In 2001, Toussaint was a promising contender for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category, though she did not receive a nomination. She also was nominated five times for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for her role. Any Day Now ended after four seasons and 88 episodes.
From 2002 to 2004, Toussaint had a regular role playing Dr. Elaine Duchamps in the NBC police procedural, Crossing Jordan. In later years, she guest-starred on Frasier, Judging Amy, The Closer, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, ER, and NCIS. She also was regular opposite Holly Hunter in the TNT crime drama Saving Grace as Capt. Kate Perry from 2007 to 2010. She also had a recurring role as Amelia 'Yoga' Bluman in the ABC comedy series Ugly Betty in 2006, and as Bird Merriweather in the NBC drama Friday Night Lights (2009–11). Toussaint appeared as Jamie Foxx's character's mother in the 2009 drama The Soloist.
In 2012, Toussaint received critical acclaim and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female for her performance as a hardworking mother who struggles to support her daughter's (Emayatzy Corinealdi) decision to put her life on hold to support her incarcerated husband (Omari Hardwick), of Middle of Nowhere, a drama film written and directed by Ava DuVernay. Toussaint was a promising contender for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress category in 2013, but she did not receive a nomination. In 2012, she also guest-starred in Shonda Rhimes' dramas Grey's Anatomy as doctor, and on Scandal, as a bereaved and betrayed pastor's wife. In 2013, she had a recurring role in season 3 of Dana Delany's series Body of Proof as Angela Martin, the new police chief and main villain. Later in 2013, she joined the cast of ABC Family drama series, The Fosters, as Sherri Saum's character mother. This marked the first time she reunited on-screen with Annie Potts since the finale of Any Day Now in 2002.
Toussaint starred in the second season of Netflix's original comedy-drama series, Orange Is the New Black in 2014. She played the role of Yvonne "Vee" Parker, the main antagonist of season two, described as a street-tough inmate who returns to jail after a long stint as a drug dealer. Her performance earned massive critical acclaim. In the series Toussaint, in her 50s, appeared nude on-screen for the first time in her career. For her performance, she won Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. In February 2016, Vee was ranked 28th on Rolling Stone's list of "40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time".
In 2014, Toussaint co-starred in Ava DuVernay's historical drama film Selma, playing Amelia Boynton Robinson, a leading civil rights activist who had a key role in efforts that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act, and who was the first African-American woman in Alabama to run for Congress. That same year, she was cast in the ABC fantasy-drama series Forever opposite Ioan Gruffudd and Alana de la Garza. The series was canceled after a single season. Toussaint co-starred in the comedy film Xmas, directed and written by Jonathan Levine, which was released on November 25, 2015. In 2015, she co-starred in Runaway Island and Sophie and the Rising Sun. Later that year, Toussaint was cast in Coco, a drama produced by Lionsgate, alongside rapper Azealia Banks. In June 2015, she joined the cast of the Fox comedy-drama Rosewood in the series regular role of the titular character's mother.
In March 2016, Toussaint was cast in her role as defense attorney Shambala Green, a role she originated on Law & Order in 1990, on the NBC legal drama Chicago Justice, that aired a backdoor pilot in Chicago P.D.. On August 14, 2017, it was announced that Toussaint will join as a series regular in the third season of Into the Badlands. She played the role of Cressida, a self-styled Prophetess in season 3.
In 2019, Toussaint went to star in the NBC limited drama series The Village. The series was canceled after one season. She later starred in the superhero film Fast Color opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw and played the role of Louise "Lou Lou" Baptiste in the horror film Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark produced by Guillermo del Toro. The following year, she played feminist, civil rights advocate and activist Florynce Kennedy in the biographical film The Glorias directed by Julie Taymor. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020. Later, she was cast opposite Idris Elba in the drama film Concrete Cowboy. Also in 2020, Toussaint was cast as Viola "Aunt Vi" Lascombe in the CBS reboot for The Equalizer starring Queen Latifah.
|1983||The Face of Rage||Stendah||TV Movie|
|1986||A Case of Deadly Force||Pat Bowden||TV Movie|
|1989||Breaking In||Delphine the Hooker|
|1990||Common Ground||Alva||TV Movie|
|1991||Hudson Hawk||Almond Joy|
|Daddy||Judge Lorraine||TV Movie|
|1992||Trial: The Price of Passion||Nancy Goodpaster||TV Movie|
|Red Dwarf||Captain Lorraine Tau||TV Movie|
|1993||Lies and Lullabies||Florence Crawford||TV Movie|
|Point of No Return||Beth|
|Class of '61||Sarah||TV Movie|
|Mother's Boys||Robert's Associate|
|1994||A Time to Heal||Zelda||TV Movie|
|Bleeding Hearts||Enid Sheperd|
|1995||Dangerous Minds||Irene Roberts|
|It Was Him or Us||Lt. Lorraine Washington||TV Movie|
|1996||America's Dream||Philomena Jonz||TV Movie|
|Psalms from the Underground||Short|
|If These Walls Could Talk||Shameeka Webb||TV Movie|
|The Cherokee Kid||Mama Annie Turner||TV Movie|
|1997||The Spittin' Image||Short|
|1998||Blackout Effect||Kim Garfield||TV Movie|
|2000||The Sky Is Falling||Janie|
|2005||Their Eyes Were Watching God||Pearl Stone||TV Movie|
|2007||Rwanda Rising||Berne Mukaniwisi||Voice|
|2008||The Gold Lunch||Judge||Short|
|2009||The Soloist||Flo Ayers|
|2010||The Line||Josephine Johnson||TV Movie|
|2011||The Doctor||Ayanna||TV Movie|
|2012||Knife Fight||Brenda Davis|
|Middle of Nowhere||Ruth|
|2014||Ask Me Anything||Dr. Sherman|
|Selma||Amelia Boynton Robinson|
|2015||Runaway Island||Naomi Holloway|
|The Night Before||Mrs. Roberts|
|2016||Sophie and the Rising Sun||Salome Whitmore|
|Love Beats Rhymes||Nichelle|
|A Conversation: Anne Frank Meets God||God (voice)||Short|
|2019||Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark||Louise "Lou Lou" Baptiste|
|2020||The Glorias||Florynce Kennedy|
|TBA||The Magician's Elephant||TBA||Voice|
|1988||One Life to Live||Vera Williams||Recurring Role|
|1989||A Man Called Hawk||Emily Howell||Episode: "Hear No Evil"|
|1990||227||Monica Patton||Episode: "Nightmare on 227"|
|Nasty Boys||Dr. Chanel Cory||Episode: "Kill or Be Killed: Part 1"|
|1990–03||Law & Order||Shambala Green||Recurring Role, 7 Episodes|
|1992||Tequila and Bonetti||Big Marie Touissant||Episode: "The Rose Cadillac"|
|Bodies of Evidence||Dr. Mary Rocket||Episode: "Afternoon Delights"|
|1993||Queen||Joyce||Episode: "Episode #1.3"|
|The Sinbad Show||Mrs. Payton||Episode: "Pilot"|
|Where I Live||Marie St. Martin||Main Cast|
|1994||M.A.N.T.I.S.||Denise Copeland||Episode: "Fire in the Heart"|
|1995||Bless This House||Lorraine||Episode: "A Woman's Work Is Never Done"|
|Amazing Grace||Yvonne Price||Main Cast|
|Murder One||Margaret Stratton||2 Episodes|
|1996||Mr. & Mrs. Smith||Dr. Avery Cotter||Episode: "The Coma Episode"|
|Dark Skies||Eda Mae Tillman||Episode: "We Shall Overcome"|
|1997||Promised Land||Linda Paxton||Episode: "Running Scared"|
|Leaving L.A.||Dr. Claudia Chan||Main Cast|
|1998||Nothing Sacred||Lorraine Hamilton||Episode: "Signs and Words"|
|Cracker: Mind Over Murder||Tisha Watlington||2 Episodes|
|C-16: FBI||Marsha Fontaine||Episode: "My Brother's Keeper"|
|1998–02||Any Day Now||Rene Jackson||Main Cast|
|2002||Static Shock||Dr. Franklin (voice)||Episode: "Jimmy"|
|2003||This Far by Faith||Narrator||Episode: "There Is a River"|
|2002–03||Crossing Jordan||Dr. Elaine Duchamps||Main Cast: Season 2|
|2003–04||Threat Matrix||Carina Wright||Recurring Cast|
|2004||Frasier||Nurse Betty Toussaint||Episode: "Boo!"|
|2005||Judging Amy||Eileen Stayman||Episode: "The New Normal"|
|The Closer||Deputy D.A. Patrice Powell||2 Episodes|
|2005–09||Numb3rs||Agent Terri Green / Medical Examiner||2 Episodes|
|2006||3 lbs||Della||Episode: "Unaired Pilot"|
|2006–07||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Cynthia James||3 Episodes|
|2007||Ugly Betty||Amelia 'Yoga' Bluman||Recurring Cast: Season 2|
|2007–10||Saving Grace||Capt. Kate Perry||Main Cast|
|2008||ER||Yolanda||Episode: "Believe the Unseen"|
|2009–11||Friday Night Lights||Birdie "Bird" Merriweather||Recurring Cast: Season 4-5|
|2010||Three Rivers||Yolanda Moss||Episode: "Every Breath You Take"|
|The Glades||Carol Watkins||Episode: "A Perfect Storm"|
|2011||NCIS||Deputy Director Donna Wolfson||Episode: "Defiance"|
|Against the Wall||Officer Edie Marks||Episode: "Obsessed and Unwanted"|
|2012||Grey's Anatomy||Dr. Edith Fincher||Episode: "The Girl with No Name"|
|The Finder||La Bruja||Episode: "Voodoo Undo"|
|Drop Dead Diva||Prof. Ellen Daily||Episode: "Road Trip"|
|The Secret Life of the American Teenager||Lorraine||Episode: "Holy Rollers"|
|Scandal||Nancy Drake||Episode: "The Other Woman"|
|2012–14||The Young and the Restless||Dr. Watkins||11 Episodes|
|2013||Body of Proof||Police Chief Angela Martin||Recurring Cast: Season 3|
|2013–17||The Fosters||Dana Adams||Recurring Cast|
|2014||Being Mary Jane||Aunt Toni||Episode: "The Huxtables Have Fallen"|
|Orange Is the New Black||Yvonne "Vee" Parker||Recurring Cast: Season 2|
|2014–15||Forever||Lt. Joanna Reece||Main Cast|
|2015–17||Rosewood||Donna Rosewood||Main Cast|
|2016||Chicago P.D.||Shambala Green||Episode: "Justice"|
|Black-ish||Aunt Alma Johnson||Episode: "Auntsgiving"|
|2017||Shots Fired||Carole Moore||Episode: "Hour Eight: Rock Bottom"|
|2018||Grace and Frankie||Rebecca||Episode: "The Death Stick"|
|2018–19||Into the Badlands||Cressida||Main Cast: Season 3|
|2018–20||She-Ra and the Princesses of Power||Shadow Weaver / Light Spinner (voice)||Main Cast |
|2018–21||Big City Greens||Rashida Remington (voice)||Recurring Cast|
|2019||The Village||Patricia||Main Cast|
|2020–21||Your Honor||Judge Sarah LeBlanc||3 Episodes|
|2021||The Equalizer||Viola "Aunt Vi" Lascombe||Main Cast|
|Summer Camp Island||Emily Ghost (voice)||Episode: "The Emily Ghost Institute for Manners and Magical Etiquette"|
|Star Wars: Visions||Masago (voice)||Episode: "Akakiri" |
|2004||World of Warcraft||High Sage Viryx|
|2014||World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor||High Sage Viryx|
Awards and nominations
|1999||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Any Day Now||Nominated|
|TV Guide Award||Best Actress in a Drama Series||Any Day Now||Nominated|
|Viewers for Quality Television Award||Viewers for Quality Television Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Any Day Now||Nominated|
|2000||National Bar Association Award||Wiley A. Branton Award||Any Day Now||Won|
|NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Any Day Now||Nominated|
|2001||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Any Day Now||Nominated|
|2002||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Any Day Now||Nominated|
|2003||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Any Day Now||Nominated|
|2008||LA Femme Filmmaker Award||Visionary Award||Won|
|2013||Film Independent Spirit Awards||Best Supporting Female||Middle of Nowhere||Nominated|
|Black Reel Award||Best Supporting Actress||Middle of Nowhere||Nominated|
|Black Reel Award||Best Ensemble||Middle of Nowhere||Nominated|
|2014||NewNowNext Award||Best New Television Actress||Orange Is the New Black||Nominated|
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award||Best Ensemble||Selma||Nominated|
|Black Film Critics Circle Award||Best Ensemble||Selma||Won|
|2015||Critics' Choice Movie Award||Best Ensemble||Selma||Nominated|
|NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Orange is the New Black||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Orange is the New Black||Won|
|Essence Black Women in Hollywood Award||Vanguard Award||Orange is the New Black||Won|
|Black Reel Award||Best Ensemble||Selma||Won|
|Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Orange is the New Black||Won|
|EWwy Awards||Best Supporting Actress in a Drama||Orange is the New Black||Nominated|
|2020||Chlotrudis Award||Best Supporting Actress||Fast Color||Won|
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- "'Orange Is the New Black' Finale Recap — And Season 2 Awards!". Retrieved 9 July 2014.
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- Collins, Sean T. "40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
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- Andreeva, Nellie (1 March 2018). "'The Village': Lorraine Toussaint & Dominic Chianese To Star In NBC Drama Pilot". Retrieved 4 March 2018.
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- N'Duka, Amanda (January 23, 2019). "Lorraine Toussaint To Portray Activist Flo Kennedy In Gloria Steinem Biopic".
- "Actor Lorraine Toussaint Tells the Revolutionary Story of Black Feminist Florynce 'Flo' Kennedy". The Glow Up.
- Fleming, Mike, Jr. (August 8, 2019). "Idris Elba, 'Stranger Things' Caleb McLaughlin To Star In 'Concrete Cowboys'".
- Otterson, Joe (February 29, 2020). "Queen Latifah's 'Equalizer' Reboot Pilot at CBS Casts Lorraine Toussaint".
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- "Stunning New Star Wars: Visions Trailer Debuts". StarWars.com. 2021-08-17. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
- "Best New Television Actress 2014 Logo TV Video Awards - NNNAwards - Logo TV". logoTV.com. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
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