Wesley at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con International
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
Astoria, Queens, New York, U.S.
|Education||University of Evansville (BFA)|
Juilliard School (GrDip)
(m. 2005; div. 2013)
Rutina Wesley (born December 21, 1978) is an American actress. She is best known for her roles as Tara Thornton on the HBO television series True Blood and Nova Bordelon on the OWN television series Queen Sugar.
Early life and education
Wesley was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her father, Ivery Wheeler, is a professional tap dancer, and her mother, Cassandra Wesley, was a showgirl. She attended high school at the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts. She studied dance at Simba Studios and the West Las Vegas Arts Center.
While at the Las Vegas Academy, Wesley missed some auditions for college training programs. She finally decided to attend the University of Evansville in Indiana. She was initially hesitant in enroll there because of a lack of minorities in the state.
After Wesley earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance in 2001, her grandmother suggested that she do a nursing course to have a practical fallback job, but Wesley insisted on pursuing her artistic education. She enrolled at the Juilliard School in 2001 and graduated in May 2005 (Group 34). Her studies included a summer spent at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. At Juilliard, she became close friends with her future co-star Nelsan Ellis (Group 33: 2000–2004).
In December 2006, Wesley was featured in David Hare's Broadway play The Vertical Hour. In 2007, Wesley also appeared in The Public Theater production of In Darfur by playwright Winter Miller, co-starring Heather Raffo and Aaron Lohr, among others.
Wesley had a minor role in the 2005 film Hitch, which was edited out in the final cut. In 2007, she made her on-screen debut as the main character in the film How She Move, from British director Ian Iqbal Rashid. The character Raya Green, who enters a step-dancing competition to secure funds for her education, was inspired by Tony Manero, portrayed by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Prior to the shooting of the film, Wesley underwent a five-week dance rehearsal period. Portraying a woman of Jamaican descent, she also took dialect coaching for the role.
Wesley auditioned for the role Tara Thornton in the HBO series True Blood in 2007 and secured the part after creator Alan Ball chose her because "[she] was the first person who showed [Tara's] vulnerable side".
In January 2015, it was announced that Wesley had been cast in a recurring role on the NBC drama series Hannibal. She portrayed Reba McClane, "a blind woman who enters into a relationship with Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), and helps soothe his murderous urges—at least at first." Wesley appeared as Liza Warner in the fourth season of Arrow.
Wesley divides her time between Los Angeles and Astoria, Queens. In 2005, she married her former Juilliard classmate Jacob Fishel, an actor. Wesley filed for divorce on August 16, 2013, citing irreconcilable differences.
In November 2017, Wesley announced her partnership to Shonda, a female chef from New Orleans.
|2007||How She Move||Raya Green|
|2012||California Winter||Marcy Sanchez|
|2013||The Championship Rounds||Tina||Short film|
|Last Weekend||Nora Finley-Perkins|
|2015||The Perfect Guy||Alicia|
|Year||TV shows||Hearts rates||Roles||Notes|
|2008||Numb3rs||Sarah / Jenny Calandro||"Magic Show"|
|2008–2014||True Blood||Tara Thornton||Main role|
|2009||The Cleveland Show||Yvette (voice)||"Ladies' Night"|
|2010||True Blood: Webisodes||Tara Thornton||"Sookie, Tara & Lafayette"|
|2010||Generator Rex||Providence Cadet Kenwyn Jones (voice)||"Basic"|
|2011||Generator Rex||Providence Agent Kenwyn Jones (voice)||"Lost Weekend"|
|2011||Bandwagon: The Series||Auditioner||"It's Your One Shot"|
|2011||Top 100 Number Ones||TV film|
|2012||True Blood: Jessica's Blog||Tara Thornton||"Big Vampire Sisters"|
|2012||The Cleveland Show||Tori (voice)||"Frapp Attack"|
|2015||Hannibal||Reba McClane||Recurring role|
|2015, 2017||Arrow||Liza Warner/Lady Cop||Episodes: "Beyond Redemption" and "The Sin-Eater"|
|2016–present||Queen Sugar||Nova Bordelon||Series regular|
|2019||The Walking Dead||Jocelyn||Episode: "Scars"|
Awards and nominations
|2009||5th Scream Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|14th Satellite Awards||Best Cast (or Best Ensemble) – Television Series||Won|
|2010||16th Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2013||44th NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2017||48th NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|17th Black Reel Awards||Won|
|2018||49th NAACP Image Awards||Nominated|
- "Correction To Rutina Wesley's Birthday Post". trueblood-online.com. trueblood-online.com. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- Williams, Kam (January 20, 2008). "Rutina Wesley "How She Move" Interview with Kam Williams". News Blaze. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- Rochlin, Margy (October 30, 2008). "Flesh and Blood in a Town of Vampires". The New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- Staff, Hollywood.com (February 6, 2015). "Rutina Wesley | Biography and Filmography | 1979". Hollywood.com. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
- Cling, Carol (January 29, 2008). "Las Vegas Academy grad a shooting star". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- "Spotlight: Training to Act". Back Stage. Nielsen Business Media Inc. January 17, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- "Rutina Wesley". Biography.com. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
- "Q&A With Rutina Wesley". Alumni News. The Juilliard School. May 2010. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
- "How She Make a Movie: Rutina Wesley on Auditions, Epsom Salts, and Belief in Self". The Juilliard Journal. The Juilliard School. March 2008. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
- "Interview with Rutina Wesley". myFanbase. February 19, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. May 2008. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
- Pincus-Roth, Zachary (April 11, 2007). "Public's in Darfur to Star Raffo, Lohr, Washington, Wesley, Jah". Playbill. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- Marchand, Philip (January 24, 2008). "'How She Move' shows dance as escape". TheStar.com. Toronto Star Inc. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
- Prudom, Laura. "'Hannibal' Casts Rutina Wesley as 'Red Dragon's' Reba McClane". Variety. Variety. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
- Otterson, Joe; Sneider, Jeff. "'True Blood' Alum Rutina Wesley in Talks to Join 'Arrow' for Multi-Episode Arc (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- "'Arrow' scoop: Get details on Rutina Wesley's role - EW.com". Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- Nellie Andreeva. "Rutina Wesley To Star In OWN Drama Series 'Queen Sugar' - Deadline". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- "Rutina Wesley Divorcing Jacob Fishel". People.com. August 20, 2013.
- Gilchrist, Tracy E. (November 20, 2017). "True Blood's Rutina Wesley Comes Out in Heartfelt Instagram Engagement Post". Retrieved November 21, 2017.