Regina Taylor

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Regina Taylor
Taylor with Sam Waterston in 2010
Born (1960-08-22) August 22, 1960 (age 55)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Playwright, Director, Actress
Years active 1980–present

Regina Taylor (born August 22, 1960) is an American actress and playwright. She has won several awards throughout her career, including a Golden Globe Award and NAACP Image Award.


Taylor was born in Dallas, Texas, but at age 12 she went to Muskogee, Oklahoma. The family later returned to Dallas, where she graduated from L. G. Pinkston High School in 1977.[1]


Her earliest professional acting roles were two made-for-television films while she was studying at Southern Methodist University: 1980's Nurse and 1981's Crisis at Central High. In the latter movie, she was praised by critic John O'Connor of The New York Times for her portrayal of Minnijean Brown, a member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who braved violence and armed guards to integrate Little Rock Central High School in 1957.[2] Her first role to gain widespread attention was that of Mrs. Carter, the drug-addicted mother of a promising young female student, in the 1989 film Lean on Me. She became well-known to the television viewing public for her role as Lilly Harper on the early 1990s TV series I'll Fly Away. This role won her a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Television Drama and also an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series.

Since then she has had some critical success for various supporting roles in films, such as the Spike Lee film Clockers, Courage Under Fire, A Family Thing, The Negotiator, and for the films Losing Isaiah and Strange Justice — a Showtime original film in which she portrayed Anita Hill — and as the lead in the PBS telefilm Cora Unashamed, based on a Langston Hughes short story. She was a cast member for all four seasons of the CBS drama The Unit as Molly Blane, the tough-minded housewife who holds the women of "the Unit" together when their husbands are on covert assignments.[citation needed]

Taylor is also an accomplished stage actress, and was the first black woman to play Juliet in Romeo and Juliet on Broadway. Her other Broadway credits include Macbeth and As You Like It. She appeared in Off-Broadway and regional productions of such plays as Jar the Floor (Off-Broadway, 1999),[3] Machinal (Off-Broadway, 1990), L'Illusion (Off-Broadway, 1988),[4] and A Map of the World (Off-Broadway, Public Theatre). She appeared as "Ariel" in The Tempest at the La Jolla Playhouse, California in 1987, for which she received a Dramalogue Award.[5][6]


Taylor is currently the writer-in-residence at the Signature Theatre, where her new play stop.reset. premiered at the Off-Broadway Pershing Square Signature Center on September 8, 2013. Taylor also directed the production.[7][8]

Taylor is a Distinguished Artistic Associate of Chicago's Goodman Theatre.

She wrote Escape From Paradise, a one-woman show which was produced at the Goodman Theatre Studio, Chicago, in October 1995. Her short plays Watermelon Rinds and Inside the Belly of the Beast were incorporated into a program at the Goodman Theatre Studio in 1994.[9][10] Her other plays include Mudtracks, Love Poem #97 and Love Poem #98.

She wrote and appeared in the play Millennium Mambo, a one-woman work, presented at the Goodman Theatre in February 2000. The work also included short pieces by playwrights Adrienne Kennedy, Ntozake Shange, Suzan-Lori Parks and Kia Corthron.[11] She wrote the play A Night in Tunisia, which premiered during the 2000 Alabama Shakespeare Festival.[12] In 2000, Taylor won a best new play award from the American Critics' Association for Oo-Bla-Dee, a play about 1940s female jazz musicians. The Goodman Theatre produced the play in 1999.[13]

She wrote and directed Crowns, which is a co-production of the McCarter Theatre, where it premiered in October 2002[14] and the Second Stage Theatre, produced in December 2002. Crowns is described by Playbill as a "play-with-gospel-music", and is based on the book of the same name of photographs by Michael Cunningham and journalist Craig Marberry.[15]Crowns has been produced in various locations, including the Meroney Theater in Salisbury, North Carolina with The Piedmont Players in May 2009; the Zach Theatre in Austin, Texas in September 2004, the Pasadena Playhouse in co-production with Ebony Repertory Theatre in July 2009; Syracuse Stage in Syracuse, New York; at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre in Storrs, Connecticut in May 2009 and at the Electric City Playhouse in Anderson, SC in May 2011. Crowns was the most performed musical in the country in 2006. It won four Helen Hayes awards (for Washington, D.C. productions), including Taylor’s win for Best Direction as well as Best Regional Musical.[10][16]

She wrote and directed an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull titled Drowning Crow. Drowning Crow was produced on Broadway in February 2004 by the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Biltmore Theatre, directed by Marion McClinton.[5][17]

She wrote and directed The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove, a dramatic rendering of the financial gains and emotional losses of African-American businesswoman Madam C.J. Walker, which received its world premiere production in January 2005 at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.[18]

Taylor's play Magnolia, set during the beginning of desegregation in Atlanta in 1963, premiered at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in March 2009 directed by Anna Shapiro.[19][20] after receiving a workshop production in July 2008 at the National Playwrights' Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut.[21][22]

Taylor returned to the Goodman Theatre in January and February 2011 for the world premiere of her new play entitled The Trinity River Plays, a co-production with Dallas Theater Center, directed by Ethan McSweeny. The production is a trilogy composed of Jar Fly, Rain, and Ghoststory.[23]

Personal life[edit]

According to a DNA analysis, she descended, mainly, from Mende people of Sierra Leone and of Kru people of Liberia.[24] Taylor is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.


Year Title Role Notes
1980 Nurse Unknown
1981 Crisis at Central High Minniejean Brown Television movie
1984 American Playhouse Burnetta Episode: "Concealed Enemies, Part I: Suspicion"
1989 Lean on Me Mrs. Carter
1991 Law & Order Evelyn Griggs Episode: "Mushrooms"
1991-1993 I'll Fly Away Lilly Harper 38 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series (1992–93)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1992–93)
1992 Jersey Girl Rosie
1993 I'll Fly Away: Then and Now Lilly Harper Television movie
1994 Law & Order Sarah Maslin Episode: "Virtue"
1995 Children of the Dust Drusilla Television movie
Nominated—Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1995 Losing Isaiah Gussie
1995 Clockers Iris Jeeter Nominated—Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1995 The Keeper Angela Lamont
1996 A Family Thing Ann
1996 Courage Under Fire Meredith Serling Nominated—Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1997 Spirit Lost Willy
1997 Hostile Waters Lieutenant Curtis Television movie
1997 The Third Twin Sergeant Michelle Delaware Television movie
1998 The Negotiator Karen Roman
1999 Strange Justice Anita Hill Television movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2000 Cora Unashamed Cora Jenkins Television movie
2001-2002 The Education of Max Bickford Judith Bryant 22 episodes
2006-2009 The Unit Molly Blane 69 episodes
Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
2006 In From the Night Dr. A. Gardner Television movie
2008 Grey's Anatomy Greta Episode: "Losing My Mind"
2010 Who Is Clark Rockefeller? Megan Norton Television movie
2015 Dig Ruth Lidell TV series


  1. ^ "Black History Month: Local legends in music, theater, dance, and more", The Dallas Morning News, February 3, 2006
  2. ^ John O'Connor. TV: Little Rock, 1957: 'Crisis at Central High', The New York Times (review), February 4, 1981
  3. ^ McGrath, Sean and Simonson, Robert. [ "Second Stage's Jar the Floor to Open on Aug. 16"], August 13, 1999
  4. ^ "Regina Taylor Off-Broadway listing", accessed August 6, 2015
  5. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. "Regina Taylor Gives Chekhov New Wings With 'Drowning Crow', Opening Feb. 19", February 19, 2004
  6. ^ Drake, Sylvie. "Woodruff Staging At La Jolla : Tracking An Erratic 'Tempest'" Los Angeles Times, September 15, 1987
  7. ^ " ' stop.reset.' Listing"
  8. ^ Purcell, Carey. World Premiere of Regina Taylor's 'stop. reset.' Opens Sept. 8 at Signature Theatre", September 8, 2013
  9. ^ Christiansen, Richard. " 'Escape From Paradise' A Surreal Trip", Chicago Tribune, October 31, 1995
  10. ^ a b "Listing, Regina Taylor", accessed August 6, 2015
  11. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Regina Taylor's 'Mambo' Opens at Chicago's Goodman, Feb. 14", February 14, 2000
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Taylor's 'Night in Tunisia' Begins Preem Run May 23 at Alabama Shakes", May 23, 2000
  13. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "American Theatre Crix Honor Regina Taylor's Oo-Bla-Dee With Top Prize", April 2, 2000
  14. ^ " 'Crown' Study Guide", accessed August 8, 2015
  15. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Regina Taylor's 'Crowns' Opens Second Stage Season Off-Broadway, Dec. 3", December 3, 2002
  16. ^ Simonson, Robert. "D.C. Theatre's Helen Hayes Awards Honor Ludwig's Hollywood, 'Crowns', 'Drawer Boy' ", May 11, 2004
  17. ^ " 'Drowning Crow' Broadway Listing", accessed August 6, 2015
  18. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Regina Taylor's New Play, 'Sarah Breedlove', Premieres at Alabama Shakespeare Fest in 2005", May 10, 2004
  19. ^ " 'Magnolia' Listing, Goodman Theatre", accessed August 6, 2015
  20. ^ Jones, Kenneth. " 'Magnolia', Regina Taylor's Civil Rights-Era Story, Begins World Premiere in Chicago March 14", March 14, 2009
  21. ^ listing of productions by year and by program
  22. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "O'Neill Center's National Playwrights Conference Begins July 3", July 3, 2008
  23. ^ Jones, Kenneth. Taylor's "Trinity River" Plays Added to Goodman Slate in 2011; Abbey and Teatro Vista Shows Announced, June 7, 2010
  24. ^ Regina Taylor Ancestry Reveal

External links[edit]