Robin Givens

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Robin Givens
Robin Simone Givens

(1964-11-27) November 27, 1964 (age 57)
New York City, U.S.
Alma materSarah Lawrence College
OccupationActress, model, director
Years active1978–present
  • (m. 1988; div. 1989)
  • Svetozar Marinković
    (m. 1997; div. 1998)
Partner(s)Murphy Jensen

Robin Simone Givens (born November 27, 1964) is an American actress, model, and director. She is also a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.[1]

Givens landed her breakthrough role of Darlene Merriman in the ABC sitcom Head of the Class in 1986, and remained on the series for its 5-year duration. Her troubled marriage to boxer Mike Tyson from 1988[2][3] drew considerable media attention, as did their acrimonious divorce. She later went on to become a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline for several years.[4]

Givens continued her career with film and television roles such as The Women of Brewster Place (1989) and Boomerang (1992). In 1996, Givens co-starred on the 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. In 2007, Givens released her autobiography, Grace Will Lead Me Home. She has since had recurring roles on The Game, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, Chuck, Riverdale[5] and its spin-off Katy Keene and has been part of the main cast of Batwoman.

Early life[edit]

Givens was born in New York City, to Ruth Roper (née Newby) and Reuben Givens,[6] who divorced when she was two.[citation needed] Her mother raised Givens and her sister Stephanie in Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, New York.[7] Givens was raised Catholic.[8] She occasionally modeled and acted as a teen.[9] As a model, she appeared in magazines such as Seventeen and Mademoiselle. She made her film debut at age 14 in the film The Wiz (1978) as a guest at Aunt Emma's Party .

Givens graduated from New Rochelle Academy (a private school which closed in June 1987). At the age of 15, she enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College as a pre-medical major, becoming one of the youngest to attend the school.[7][9] While in school she acted in daytime dramas.[7] She graduated at the age of 19 in 1984.[10] Givens claimed to have dropped out of Harvard Medical School to focus on her acting career, but the registrar's office stated that she never applied.[1] It was later reported that she took courses at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.[11]



In 1985, Givens auditioned for a guest spot on The Cosby Show. She won the spot and Bill Cosby became her mentor.[9] He persuaded her to drop out of school and promised that if she wasn't successful in two years, he'd get her back into medical school and pay her tuition.[7] Soon after Givens appeared in Diff'rent Strokes and the 1986 television film Beverly Hills Madam, opposite Faye Dunaway.[7] That same year, she landed her breakthrough role as rich girl Darlene Merriman on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class.[7] 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, Givens posed nude for Playboy magazine.[12] During that period Givens felt she had lost her voice, so one of the reasons why she posed for the magazine was so that she could write her own article.[13] Givens was ranked No. 88 on Empire magazine's "100 Sexiest Stars in Film History" list in May 1995.[14] 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 Sparks, which ended its run in 1998.[15][16] She also played Denise in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.[17]


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.[18] 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,[19] but soon fell. The series was canceled after this season.[20]

In 2006, Givens attempted a return to television on MyNetworkTV's telenovela Saints and Sinners,[21] 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.[22] 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.[23] From February to April 16, 2006, she played the role of Roxie Hart in the Broadway play Chicago.[24] 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.[25] 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. Later that year, she performed as Angel, a struggling blues singer, in the play Blues for An Alabama Sky at Pasadena Playhouse.[11] 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.[26]

Givens was the spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline for several years.[4][13]

In 2017, the actress hosted the San Diego Black Film Festival as she had for the several previous years.[27]

In 2021, Givens was cast in season three of Batwoman as Jada Jet, the CEO of Jeturian Industries and Ryan Wilder's biological mother who is based on Jezebel Jet.[28]

In 2022, Givens appeared in the Lifetime film He's Not Worth Dying For as part of its "Ripped from the Headlines" feature films that was inspired by the feud of Rachel Wade and Sarah Ludemann. She portrayed Cher Heinemann, the mother of Grace Heinemann who was based on Ludemann.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Givens began dating boxer Mike Tyson in 1987.[7] According to Givens, Tyson was physically abusive before they wed on February 7, 1988.[2][30] Tyson stated that he was "severely traumatized by that relationship."[31] Tyson was then estimated to have $50 million; he and Givens did not have a prenuptial agreement.[32][33] During their marriage, Givens bought a $4.3 million mansion in the affluent suburb of Bernardsville, New Jersey with money withdrawn from his brokerage account.[34][35][36] They appeared in a Diet Pepsi commercial together and on the cover of Life magazine.[37][38]

After her miscarriage in June 1988, their marriage began to fall apart.[39][40] Tyson claims Givens's pregnancy (and miscarriage) was a ruse only to rush him to the wedding altar, noting that in all the time she was supposedly pregnant Givens never gained a pound.[41] In a joint interview with Tyson on 20/20 in September 1988, 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.[42] In October 1988, Givens filed for divorce, citing spousal abuse and was granted a temporary restraining order.[37] Her attorney Marvin Mitchelson said, "She loves Michael Tyson, but there is continued violence, and she fears for her safety."[32] Tyson sought an annulment, accusing her of stealing millions of dollars and manipulating the public.[43] Givens responded by filing a $125 million libel suit for defamation.[44] Their divorce was finalized on Valentine's Day in 1989.[30]

Givens received negative press following her split from Tyson, particularly within sports and the African American community.[45][46][3] Headlines heralded her as "the Most Hated Woman in America" and she was described as a "gold digger who married Tyson solely for his millions."[47][48] Givens denied that she received a reported divorce settlement of over $10 million from Tyson, stating that she "didn't receive one dime."[49][50]

According to the 1989 biography Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson, Tyson admitted he punched Givens, stating "that was the best punch I've ever thrown in my entire life."[51] Tyson later claimed the book was "filled with inaccuracies."[52] In 2009, Tyson joked about "socking" Givens on Oprah, which caused laughter in the audience. Winfrey later issued an apology to Givens.[4]

In 1993, Givens adopted her first son Michael "Buddy" Givens.[53] In 1997, she married her tennis instructor, Svetozar Marinković. Givens filed for divorce months later.[14] In 1999, she had a second son, William "Billy" Jensen, with ex-boyfriend, tennis player Murphy Jensen.[54]

In January 2004, Givens struck a pedestrian while driving an SUV through a Miami, Florida, intersection.[55] Givens was ticketed for failing to use due care with a pedestrian in a crosswalk, but the charges were later dismissed.[56] In June 2004, the injured party filed a civil lawsuit against Givens for an unspecified amount.[57]

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 ($369,000 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.[58]



Year Title Role Notes
1978 The Wiz Guest at Aunt Emma's Party
1991 A Rage in Harlem Imabelle
1992 Boomerang Jacqueline Broyer
1994 Foreign Student April
Blankman Kimberly Jonz
1995 Dangerous Intentions Kaye Ferrar
1998 Secrets Short
2000 Everything's Jake Publisher
2001 The Elite Ashe
2002 Book of Love Iyanna
Antibody Dr. Rachel Saverini Video
2003 Head of State Kim
A Good Night to Die Dana
Love Chronicles Monifa Burly
2005 Flip The Script Rain Jones
2006 Restraining Order Diane McNeil
2008 The Family That Preys Abigail "Abby" Dexter
2009 God Send Me a Man Kim
Little Hercules In 3-D Dana
Sounds of Poetry Eleanor Short
Preaching to the Pastor Dr. Leslie Williams
A Mother's Prayer Brenda Video
2010 Enemies Among Us Gloria
2011 Church Girl Cat
Should've Put a Ring on It Sherri
Breathe Nurse Nancy
Queen of Media Wendy Williams
2012 Waiting for Angels Jack's daughter Video
2013 Je'Caryous Johnson's Marriage Material Shauna
Will a Man Rob God? Video
JK's House Dr. Amber Jenkins
2014 Airplane Vs Volcano Lisa Whitmore Video
Four Seasons Helen
Unspoken Words Mrs. Lewis
2015 A Christmas to Remember Veronica
2016 Definitely Divorcing April
The Perfect Match Geneva
God's Not Dead 2 Principal Kinney
2017 Dreams I Never Had Prosecuting Attorney Hernandez
2018 The Products of the American Ghetto Penny
God Bless the Broken Road Kareena Williams
Never Heard Shala Davis
2019 Gully Irma
Mina Tobias: Shoes Video short
2020 The Sin Choice
2022 Kimi Angela's mother


Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Cosby Show Susanne Episode: "Theo and the Older Woman"
Guiding Light Diana Episode: "Episode #1.9784"
1986 Diff'rent Strokes Ann Episode: "The Big Bribe"
Philip Marlowe, Private Eye Token Ware Episode: "Pickup on Noon Street"
Beverly Hills Madam April Baxter TV Movie
1986–91 Head of the Class Darlene Merriman Main Cast
1988 Sonny Spoon Alvita Episode: "Crimes Below the Waist"
1989 The Women of Brewster Place Kiswana / Melanie Browne TV Miniseries
1989 The Penthouse Dinah St. Clair Television film
1992 Angel Street Detective Anita King Main Cast
1993 Angel Street Detective Anita King Television film
1995 Me and the Boys Nina Episode: "Goldilocks" & "The B Word"
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Denise Episode: "Cold Feet, Hot Body"
Courthouse Suzanne Graham Main Cast
1996 In the House Alex Peterson Recurring Cast: Season 2
1996 A Face to Die For Claudia Television film
1996–98 Sparks Wilma Cuthbert Main Cast
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"
Cosby Ms. Malone Episode: "Afterschool Delight" & "The Vesey Method"
Michael Jordan: An American Hero Juanita Vanoy/Juanita Jordan Television film
2000 Chicken Soup for the Soul Counselor Episode: "The Right Thing"
DAG Jennifer Episode: "Jennifer Returns"
The Expendables Randy Television film
2001 Spinning Out of Control Erin Television film
2003 Hollywood Wives: The New Generation Kyndra Television film
2003–04 One on One Sheila Episode: "Spy Games" & "Spy Games Reloaded"
2005 Captive Hearts Jade Marlo Television film
2007 Saints & Sinners Kelly Mitchell Episode: "Plumbing Problems"
2008 Tyler Perry's House of Payne Tanya Recurring Cast: Season 2-4
The Game Herself Recurring Cast: Season 2-3
Burn Notice Kandi Episode: "Scatter Point"
Everybody Hates Chris Stacy Episode: "Everybody Hates Doc's"
The Verdict Ayira TV Movie
2010 My Parents, My Sister & Me Keela Goldman Main Cast
Drop Dead Diva Ann Simpson Episode: "A Mother's Secret"
Nikita Mary Miracle Episode: "All the Way"
2011 Chuck Jane Bentley Recurring Cast: Season 4
Reed Between the Lines Dominique Episode: "Let's Talk About Jealousy"
The Love You Save Alexis Television film
Tagged Marleeza Dinkins Television film
2012 Suburgatory Tulsa Episode: "Independence Day"
Retired at 35 Dr. Keller Episode: "The Dates"
2013 90210 Cheryl Harwood Recurring Cast: Season 5
Twisted Judy Recurring Cast
The First Family Melanie Episode: "The First Pageant"
2015 Fear Files Elaine Channing Television film
Perfect Match Wedding Coordinator Television film
2016 Man Seeking Woman Vicki Claus Episode: "Tinsel"
Lucifer Leila Simms Episode: "Sin-Eater"
2017 About Him 2: The Revolution Dr. Alfeni Henderson Main Cast
Malibu Dan the Family Man Jessica Dankles Recurring Cast
2017–18 Once Upon a Time Eudora Episode: "Greenbacks" & "A Taste of the Heights"
2017–21 Riverdale Sierra McCoy Recurring Cast
2018 Saints & Sinners Wilhelmina Hayworth Recurring Cast: Season 3
The Bold and the Beautiful Dr. Phillips Regular Role
2019 The Fix Julianne Johnson Recurring Cast
Ambitions Stephanie Carlisle Main Cast
2020 Katy Keene Sierra McCoy Episode: "Chapter Six: Mama Said"
2020 Dear Christmas Penny Television film
2021-22 Batwoman Jada Jet Main Cast: Season 3
2021 Head of the Class Darlene Episode: "Moms Be Momming" & "YOLO"
Queens Robin Episode: "Let the Past Be the Past"
Saints & Sinners Judgment Day Wilhelmina Parker Television film
2022 He's Not Worth Dying For Cher Heinemann Television film

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 978-1-4013-5246-2.


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  2. ^ a b "Robin Givens Reveals All". November 5, 2004.
  3. ^ a b McKinney, Jessica (November 22, 2018). "Robin Givens Opens Up About Mike Tyson Abuse In Wake Of #MeToo: Watch". Vibe.
  4. ^ a b c "Robin Givens Responds". Oprah. November 13, 2009.
  5. ^ "Riverdale': Robin Givens Cast As Riverdale's Mayor In The CW Series".
  6. ^ "Robin Givens Biography (1964?-)". NetIndustries, LLC. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Collier, Aldore (June 29, 1987). "Robin Givens Leaves Harvard Med For Hollywood". Jet: 54–55, 57.
  8. ^ "Excerpt: Robin Givens' "Grace Will Lead Me Home"". ABC News. June 6, 2007. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c Arias, Ron (May 11, 1987). "If Robin Givens Can Jump from Harvard to Head of the Class, There's No Ceiling on Her Talent".
  10. ^ "BIG FIGHT: Tyson-Given marriage down for the count". Anchorage Daily News. 1988-10-19. p. F1. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  11. ^ a b "For Robin Givens, The Sky's The Limit". At This Stage. November 9, 2011. Retrieved 2021-02-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Givens, Robin; Gorman, Greg (September 1994). "So How Do You Like Me Now?". Playboy. pp. 120–130.
  13. ^ a b "How Robin Givens Found Her Voice After Surviving Domestic Violence". E! Online. November 20, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Robin Givens: Biography". Archived from the original on 2012-11-01. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  15. ^ "'Sparks' Begins Second Season". Jet: 60–63. October 27, 1997.
  16. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney (2010). Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture [4 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 1599. ISBN 978-0-313-35797-8.
  17. ^ "The Complete History of Guest Stars on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"". Complex Networks. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Givens Boosts Ratings Of 'Forgive Or Forget' Show". Jet. 2000-02-14. Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  20. ^ "'Forgive Or Forget' TV Show Is Cancelled". Jet. 2000-04-17. Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  21. ^ "Givens and Harris Join MyNetworkTV" (Press release). MyNetworkTV. November 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
  22. ^ "Book Excerpt: 'Grace Will Lead Me Home'". CBS News. 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  23. ^ "State of the Art". Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on 2009-04-22. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  24. ^ "Given is 'Roxie Hart' in Chicago". Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  25. ^ Robin Givens: Truly Knowing God. The 700 Club.
  26. ^ TV One’s Fright Night Files Renamed Fear Files and Given a Sequel
  27. ^ Wood, Beth (2017-04-21). "San Diego Black Film Festival has new venues". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2021-09-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 6, 2021). "'Batwoman': Robin Givens Joins Season 3 Of CW Drama As Series Regular". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on July 6, 2021. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  29. ^ Shreya, Kumari (June 25, 2022). "Is Lifetime's He's Not Worth Dying a True Story? Where Was it Filmed? Who is in the Cast?". The Cinemaholic. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
  30. ^ a b Hasen, Jeff (February 14, 1989). "Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and actress Robin Givens chose..." UPI.
  31. ^ Tyson, Mike (2013). Undisputed Truth, My Autobiography. Plume. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-14-218121-8.
  32. ^ a b Soble, Ronald L. (October 8, 1988). "Givens, Citing Fear, Files for Divorce From Tyson". Los Angeles Times.
  33. ^ Klott, Gary (January 28, 1996). "A Prenuptial Agreement Is Legal Security For Plain Folks". Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  34. ^ Kurtz, Howard (October 20, 1988). "Givens Renounces All Tyson Money". The Washington Post.
  35. ^ "Mike Moving Out Of Jersey". UPI. August 18, 1989. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  36. ^ Gross, Ken (October 17, 1988). "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."
  37. ^ a b "Tyson-Givens Marriage Is Ending After Eight Months". Jet: 16–18, 51. October 24, 1988.
  38. ^ "Life Magazine, July 1, 1988 - Mike Tyson And Robin Givens".
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ Katz, Michael; Marques, Stuart (October 13, 1988). "Doctor Says Givens Had A Miscarriage". The Washington Post.
  41. ^ "Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, accusing actress wife Robin Givens..." UPI. Retrieved 2021-06-19.
  42. ^ "MOOD SWINGS : In a TV Interview, Tyson's Wife Says Life Has Been 'Torture ... Pure Hell'". Los Angeles Times. September 30, 1988.
  43. ^ "Mike Tyson: "The Truth About Robin And Me"". Jet: 59–60. January 9, 1989.
  44. ^ Kurtz, Howard (November 17, 1988). "GIVENS FILES $125 MILLION LIBEL SUIT AGAINST TYSON". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286.
  45. ^ Lavin, Cheryl (October 27, 1988). "The Woman America Loves To Hate The Soon-To-Be-Ex-Mrs. Tyson Has Asked For Sympathy, And None Will Be Given". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2020-12-01 – via
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  47. ^ "Through the Storm: Robin Givens". Essence. December 16, 2009. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  48. ^ Randolph, Laura B. (March 1990). "Robin Givens Life After Tyson". Ebony: 122–123.
  49. ^ Bass, Patrik Henry (June 18, 2008). "Through the Storm: Robin Givens". Essence.
  50. ^ Younge, Gary (August 4, 2003). "Out for the count". The Guardian.
  51. ^ "Robin Took Best Punch, Tyson Says in Biography". Los Angeles Times. June 23, 1989.
  52. ^ Tyson, Mike (2013). Undisputed Truth, My Autobiography. Plume. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-14-218121-8.
  53. ^ "Robin Givens and sons". August 23, 2007.
  54. ^ Perry, Beth (2007-06-25). "'I've Been Through a Lot'". People. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  55. ^ "Robin Givens Strikes, Hurts Pedestrian". 2004-01-29. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  56. ^ "Charges dismissed against Robin Givens". 2004-12-04. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  57. ^ "89-year-old woman sues Robyn Givens". 2004-06-18. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  58. ^ William P. Barrett (May 7, 2009). "Feds Sue Robin Givens For $292,000 Owed IRS". Forbes.

External links[edit]