Robin Givens

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Robin Givens
Robin Simone Givens

(1964-11-27) November 27, 1964 (age 55)
Alma materNew Rochelle Academy
Sarah Lawrence College
OccupationActress, model
Years active1978–present
Mike Tyson
(m. 1988; div. 1989)

Svetozar Marinković
(m. 1997; div. 1998)
Partner(s)Murphy Jensen

Robin Simone Givens (born November 27, 1964) is an American model, stage, film, and television actress. She began her acting career after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 1984. In 1986, she won the role of Darlene Merriman in the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. She remained with the series for its entire five-year run. After the series ended in 1991, she continued her career with film roles and guest-starring roles on television. She currently has a recurring role as attorney and former mayor Sierra McCoy on Riverdale.[1]

In 1996, Givens co-starred on the short-lived sitcom Sparks, which aired for two seasons on UPN. In January 2000, she took over hosting duties on the syndicated talk show Forgive or Forget. The show was cancelled four months later. Givens has since had recurring roles on The Game, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, and Chuck. In 2007, Givens released her autobiography, Grace Will Lead Me Home. Givens has been married and divorced twice. Her first marriage, to boxer Mike Tyson in 1988, drew considerable media attention, as did their divorce the following year. Her second marriage, to tennis instructor Svetozar Marinković in 1997, also lasted a year. In 1993, Givens adopted a son. In 2000, she gave birth to a second son fathered by her ex-boyfriend, tennis player Murphy Jensen.

Early life[edit]

Givens was born in New York City, to Ruth Roper (née Newby) and Reuben Givens,[2] who divorced when she was two.[citation needed] Her mother raised Givens and her sister Stephanie in Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, New York.[citation needed] Givens was raised Catholic.[3] She graduated from New Rochelle Academy (a private school which closed in June 1987), and enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College at age 15. She graduated in 1984.[4]



Givens first began acting in 1985 with an appearance on The Cosby Show, followed by roles in Diff'rent Strokes and the 1986 television film Beverly Hills Madam, opposite Faye Dunaway. That same year, she landed her breakthrough role as rich girl Darlene Merriman on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. The series lasted five seasons, ending in 1991. In 1989, while starring in Head of the Class, she appeared in The Women of Brewster Place with Oprah Winfrey. She later appeared in Boomerang (1992). In 1994, she posed nude for Playboy magazine[5] and was ranked number 88 on Empire magazine's "100 Sexiest Stars in Film History" list in May 1995.[6] In 1996, Givens portrayed Claudia in the television movie The Face (also known as A Face to Die For) with Yasmine Bleeth. Later that year, she co-starred in the UPN sitcom Spark, which ended its run in 1998. She also played Denise in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.[7]


In January 2000, Givens appeared in a cameo in Toni Braxton's music video "He Wasn't Man Enough", as the wife of a cheating husband.[8] She returned to the entertainment industry later that year as the host of the talk show Forgive or Forget, replacing television personality Mother Love halfway through the show's second season. Ratings initially increased after Givens took over hosting duties,[9] but soon fell. The series was canceled after this season.[10]

In 2006, Givens attempted a return to television on MyNetworkTV's telenovela Saints and Sinners,[11] but the show garnered low ratings and was soon canceled. Givens continued acting in made-for-television films while also making appearances on Trinity Broadcasting Network's Praise the Lord program (July 12, 2007), and Larry King Live. In June 2007, she released her autobiography Grace Will Lead Me Home.[12] Givens returned to feature films in Tyler Perry's Southern drama The Family That Preys (2008). She also had a recurring role portraying a fictionalized version of herself on the CW comedy-drama The Game. Additionally, she has had a recurring role on the TBS show Tyler Perry's House of Payne, and a guest role on USA Network's Burn Notice. In addition to television and film roles, Givens has performed onstage. In 2001, she appeared in an off-Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues.[13] From February to April 16, 2006, she played the role of Roxie Hart in the Broadway play Chicago.[14] In 2007, she toured the country playing a part in the I'm Ready Productions play Men, Money & Golddiggers. Givens starred in the 2009 stage play A Mother's Prayer, which also starred Johnny Gill, Shirley Murdock, and Jermaine Crawford.

In 2007, Givens published a memoir entitled Grace Will Lead Me Home. In it, she reflects on the life of her praying grandmother, Grace, her experiences of domestic violence, her strong will to survive, feeling abandoned by her father, and her faith in God.[15] In 2011, she guest-starred in three episodes of NBC's spy-comedy Chuck: "Chuck Versus the Masquerade", "Chuck Versus the A-Team", and "Chuck Versus the Muuurder", as Jane Bentley. In 2015, she starred alongside Clifton Powell, Mishon Ratliff, and Malachi Malik in the segment "Mama's Boy" of TV One's anthology romance horror film Fear Files.[16]

Givens is a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.[17]

Personal life[edit]

After meeting in March 1986, Givens married boxer Mike Tyson on February 7, 1988. Tyson was then estimated to have US$50 million, and Givens and he did not make a prenuptial agreement. During their marriage, Givens and her mother bought a $4.6 million mansion in the affluent suburb of Bernardsville, New Jersey.[18][19]

After a miscarriage in May 1988, the marriage began to fall apart.[20] In a joint interview with Tyson on 20/20, Givens told Barbara Walters that life with him was "torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine," and she went on to describe his volatile temper.[21] In October 1988, Givens filed for divorce and was granted a temporary restraining order. Her attorney, Marvin Mitchelson, said, "She loves Michael Tyson, but there is continued violence, and she fears for her safety."[22] Givens alleged spousal abuse, while Tyson alleged alienation and interest in his money, not in him. The divorce was finalized on Valentine's Day in 1989. Newspapers reported that Givens received a divorce settlement over $10 million from her marriage to Tyson.[23] She later denied the report, stating: "I didn’t receive one dime".[24] She received negative press following her split from Tyson, particularly within the African American community. One article, in particular, described her as "the most hated woman in America".[25] Tyson later admitted in the book Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson, that he punched Givens and stated, "that was the best punch I've ever thrown in my entire life."[26] Tyson also joked about assaulting Givens on Oprah in 2009, which caused laughter in the audience. Winfrey later issued an apology to Givens.[17]

In 1993, Givens adopted her first son, Michael. In 1997, she married her tennis instructor, Svetozar Marinković; Givens filed for divorce months later.[6] In 1999, she had a second son, William, with ex-boyfriend, Murphy Jensen.[27] [28] She briefly dated radio host Howard Stern in 2000.[29]

Legal issues[edit]

In January 2004, Givens critically injured an 89-year-old pedestrian, Maria Antonia Alcover, while driving an SUV through a Miami, Florida intersection.[30] Givens was ticketed for failing to use due care with a pedestrian in a crosswalk, but the charges were later dismissed.[31] In June 2004, Alcover filed a civil lawsuit against Givens and her sister (the owner of the SUV Givens was driving) for an unknown amount.[32]

A May 7, 2009, article in Forbes magazine reported that the Internal Revenue Service was suing Givens for unpaid federal income taxes totaling $292,000 ($348,000 in present day USD when adjusted for inflation), an amount which included interest and penalties. The government had asked a federal court in Florida for a judgment against her on 39 assessments covering a span of eight years.[33]


Year Title Role Notes
1978 The Wiz Guest at Aunt Emma's Party Uncredited
1991 A Rage in Harlem Imabelle
1992 Boomerang Jacqueline Broyer
1994 Foreign Student April
1994 Blankman Kimberly Jonz
1995 Dangerous Intentions Kaye Ferrar
1998 Secrets
2000 Everything's Jake Publisher
2001 The Elite Ashe
2002 Book of Love Iyanna
2002 Antibody Dr. Rachel Saverini Direct-to-video release
2003 Head of State Kim
2003 Good Night To Die Dana
2003 Love Chronicles Monifa Burly
2005 Flip The Script Rain Jones
2006 Restraining Order Diane McNeil
2008 Queen of Media Wendy Williams
2008 The Family That Preys Abigail "Abby" Dexter
2008 Little Hercules In 3-D Dana
2009 A Mother's Prayer Brenda Direct-to-DVD release
2010 Enemies Among Us Gloria Direct-to-DVD release
2012 Unspoken Words Mrs. Lewis Direct-to-DVD release
2012 Double Sided Miranda Johnson Direct-to-DVD release
2014 Airplane Vs Volcano Dr. Whitmore
2016 God's Not Dead 2 Principal Kinney
2018 God Bless the Broken Road Kareena Williams
Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Cosby Show Susanne Episode: "Theo and the Older Woman"
1986 Diff'rent Strokes Ann Episode: "The Big Bribe"
1986 Beverly Hills Madam April Baxter Television movie
1986 Philip Marlowe, Private Eye Token Ware Episode: "Pickup on Noon Street"
1986–1991 Head of the Class Darlene Merriman 114 episodes
1989 The Penthouse Dinah St. Clair Television movie
1989 The Women of Brewster Place Kiswana Miniseries
1992 Angel Street Det. Anita King Television movie
1992 Angel Street Det. Anita King Unknown episodes
1995 Me and the Boys Nina 3 episodes
1995 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Denise Episode: "Cold Feet, Hot Body"
1995 Courthouse Suzanne Graham 11 episodes
1996 In the House Alex 3 episodes
1996 A Face to Die For Claudia Television movie
1996–1998 Sparks Wilma Cuthbert 40 episodes
1997 Moesha Ladonna Episode: "Strike a Pose"
1999 The Love Boat: The Next Wave Dana Chase Episode: "Don't Judge a Book by Its Lover"
1999 Michael Jordan: An American Hero Juanita Vanoy/Juanita Jordan Television movie
1999 Cosby Ms. Malone 2 episodes
2000 The Expendables Randy Television movie
2000 Chicken Soup for the Soul Counselor Episode: "The Right Thing"
2000 DAG Jennifer Episode: "Jennifer Returns"
2001 Spinning Out of Control Erin Television movie
2003 Hollywood Wives: The New Generation Kyndra Television movie
2003–2004 One on One Sheila 2 episodes
2005 Captive Hearts Jade Marlo Television movie
2008 Tyler Perry's House of Payne Tanya 6 episodes
2008 Burn Notice Kandi Episode: "Scatter Point"
2008 The Game Herself 7 episodes
2008 Everybody Hates Chris Stacy Episode: "Everybody Hates Doc's"
2010 My Parents, My Sister & Me Keela Goldman 7 episodes
2010 Drop Dead Diva Ann Simpson Episode: "A Mother's Secret"
2010 Nikita Mary Miracle Episode: "All the Way"
2011 Chuck Jane Bentley 3 episodes
2011 Reed Between the Lines Dominique Episode: "Let's Talk About Jealousy"
2012 Suburgatory Tulsa Episode: "Independence Day"
2012 Retired at 35 Dr. Keller Episode: "The Dates"
2013 90210 Cheryl 3 episodes
2013–2014 Twisted Judy 2 episodes
2014 The First Family Melanie Episode: "The First Pageant"
2016 Man Seeking Woman Vicki Claus Episode: "Tinsel"
2016 Lucifer Leila Simms Episode: "Sin-Eater"
2017–present Riverdale Sierra McCoy Recurring Role; 21 episodes
2017-2018 Once Upon a Time Eudora 2 episodes
2019 Ambitions Stephanie Carlisle Series regular, 18 episodes
2019 The Fix Julianne Johnson 1 episode - the pilot

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Result Category Film
1991 ShoWest Convention, USA Won Female Star of Tomorrow
2004 Black Reel Awards Nominated Television: Best Supporting Actress Hollywood Wives: The New Generation


  • Givens, Robin (June 7, 2007). Grace Will Lead Me Home. New York: Miramax. ISBN 1-4013-5246-4.


  1. ^ "Riverdale': Robin Givens Cast As Riverdale's Mayor In The CW Series".
  2. ^ "Robin Givens Biography (1964?-)". NetIndustries, LLC. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  3. ^ "Excerpt: Robin Givens' "Grace Will Lead Me Home"". ABC News. June 6, 2007. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016.
  4. ^ "BIG FIGHT: Tyson-Given marriage down for the count". Anchorage Daily News. 1988-10-19. p. F1. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  5. ^ Givens, Robin; Gorman, Greg (September 1994). "So How Do You Like Me Now?". Playboy. pp. 120–130.
  6. ^ a b "Robin Givens: Biography". Archived from the original on 2012-11-01. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  7. ^ "The Complete History of Guest Stars on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"". Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  8. ^ Farber, Jim (2000-04-23). "SOFT AND SEXY Toni Braxton has a new album, a new video and a 'cute' new man. How sad is that?". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  9. ^ "Givens Boosts Ratings Of `Forgive Or Forget' Show". Jet. 2000-02-14. Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  10. ^ "`Forgive Or Forget' TV Show Is Cancelled". Jet. 2000-04-17. Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  11. ^ "Givens and Harris Join MyNetworkTV" (Press release). MyNetworkTV. November 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
  12. ^ "Book Excerpt: 'Grace Will Lead Me Home'". CBS News. 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  13. ^ "State of the Art". Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  14. ^ "Given is 'Roxie Hart' in Chicago". Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  15. ^ Robin Givens: Truly Knowing God. The 700 Club.
  16. ^ TV One’s Fright Night Files Renamed Fear Files and Given a Sequel
  17. ^ a b "Robin Givens Responds". Oprah. November 13, 2009.
  18. ^ Gross, Ken (October 17, 1998). "As Wife Robin Givens Splits for the Coast, Mike Tyson Rearranges the Furniture". People. "The food lies untouched. The only sounds across the breakfast table in the Bernardsville, N.J., mansion are the loud silences of words being swallowed. Finally, Robin Givens, 24, star of the ABC-TV sitcom Head of the Class, pushes herself away from the table and announces, 'I have to pack.' 'Me, too,' says her husband, Mike Tyson, 22, the world heavyweight boxing champion. Suddenly the Sunday morning atmosphere is tense and full of menace."
  19. ^ AP (June 12, 2005). "Mike Tyson Chronology". USA Today. Retrieved March 21, 2011. Oct. 2, 1988 — Police go to Tyson's Bernardsville, N.J., home after he hurls furniture out the window and forces Givens and her mother to flee the house.
  20. ^ McMurran, Kristin (1988-06-27). "The Champ and the Vamp". People. Time Inc. 29 (25). ISSN 0093-7673. Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  21. ^ "MOOD SWINGS : In a TV Interview, Tyson's Wife Says Life Has Been 'Torture . . . Pure Hell'". Los Angeles Times. September 30, 1988.
  22. ^ Soble, Ronald L. (October 8, 1988). "Givens, Citing Fear, Files for Divorce From Tyson". Los Angeles Times.
  23. ^ Younge, Gary (2003-08-05). "Out for the count". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  24. ^ Bass, Patrik Henry. "Through the Storm: Robin Givens". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  25. ^ Randolph, Laura B. (March 1990). "Robin Givens: Life After Tyson". Ebony.
  26. ^ "Robin Took Best Punch, Tyson Says in Biography". Los Angeles Times. June 23, 1989.
  27. ^ Perry, Beth (2007-06-25). "'I've Been Through a Lot'". People. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  28. ^ "Remember Robin Givens from 'House of Payne'? Her son is all grown up, towering over mom". Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  29. ^ "Through the Storm: Robin Givens". Essence. June 18, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  30. ^ "Robin Givens Strikes, Hurts Pedestrian". 2004-01-29. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  31. ^ "Charges dismissed against Robin Givens". 2004-12-04. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  32. ^ "89-year-old woman sues Robyn Givens". 2004-06-18. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  33. ^ William P. Barrett (May 7, 2009). "Feds Sue Robin Givens For $292,000 Owed IRS". Forbes.

External links[edit]