Rutina Wesley

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Rutina Wesley
Rutina Wesley by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Wesley in July 2012 at SDCC
Born (1979-02-01) February 1, 1979 (age 38)
Las Vegas, Nevada, US
Education University of Evansville (BFA 2001) Juilliard School (2005)
Occupation Actress
Years active 2005–present
Spouse(s) Jacob Fishel (2005–2013; filed for divorce)

Rutina Wesley (born February 1, 1979)[1] is an American film, stage, and television actress best known for her role as Tara Thornton on the HBO series True Blood.

Early life and education[edit]

Wesley was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada.[2] Her father, Ivery Wheeler, is a professional tap dancer, and her mother, Cassandra Wesley, was a showgirl.[3] 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.[4]

While at the Las Vegas Academy, Wesley missed several other auditions for college training programs and was finally accepted by the University of Evansville in Indiana. She was hesitant in joining the university because of a lack of minorities in the state.[5]

After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance in 2001,[6] her grandmother suggested that she do a nursing course, but Wesley insisted on pursuing her education.[5] She joined the Juilliard School in 2001[7] and graduated in May 2005 (Group 34),[8] which included a summer spent at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[2] At Juilliard, she became close friends with her future co-star Nelsan Ellis[9] (Group 33: 2000–2004).[10]


Wesley is at the International Comic-Con San Diego with Ryan Kwanten, Deborah Ann Woll, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Nelsan Ellis on this tv shows of True Blood in 2011.

In December 2006, Wesley was featured in David Hare's Broadway play The Vertical Hour.[3] In 2007, Wesley also appeared in The Public Theater production of In Darfur by playwright Winter Miller, co-starring Heather Raffo, Aaron Lohr among others.[11]

Wesley had a minor role in 2005 film Hitch, which was edited in the final cut.[4] However, she made her on screen debut in the lead role in 2007 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.[12] Prior to the shooting of the film, Wesley underwent a five-week dance rehearsal period.[4] Portraying a woman of Jamaican descent, she also took dialect coaching for the role.[2] 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".[3]

In June 2011, it was reported that Wesley will star in the biopic Left To Tell based on Immaculée Ilibagiza's bestselling memoir about the Rwandan Genocide.[13]

In January 2015, it was announced that Wesley had been cast in a recurring role on NBC's critically acclaimed 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."[14]

Wesley has been cast as Liza Warner in the upcoming fourth season of Arrow.[15][16]

In 2016, Wesley was cast as lead character in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama series, Queen Sugar produced by Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey.[17]

Personal life[edit]

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.[18]



Year Title Role Notes
2007 How She Move Raya Green
2012 California Winter Marcy Sanchez
2013 Championship Rounds, TheThe Championship Rounds Tina Short film
2014 13 Sins Shelby
2014 Last Weekend Nora Finley-Perkins
2015 Perfect Guy, TheThe Perfect Guy Alicia


Year Title Role Notes
2008 Numb3rs Sarah / Jenny Calandro "Magic Show"
2008-2014 True Blood Tara Thornton Main role
2009 Cleveland Show, TheThe 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 Cleveland Show, TheThe Cleveland Show Tori (voice) "Frapp Attack"
2015 Hannibal Reba McClane Recurring role
2015 Broad Squad Joanne Pilot
2015 Arrow Liza Warner Episode: "Beyond Redemption"
2016 Queen Sugar Nova Bordelon Series regular


Year Award Category Work Result
2009 Satellite Awards Best Casting Television True Blood Won
2010 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series True Blood Nominated
2013 NAACP Image Award Best Supporting Actress True Blood Nominated


  1. ^ "Correction To Rutina Wesley's Birthday Post". Retrieved 1 March 2015.  External link in |website=, |publisher= (help)
  2. ^ a b c Williams, Kam (January 20, 2008). "Rutina Wesley "How She Move" Interview with Kam Williams". News Blaze. Retrieved April 14, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Rochlin, Margy (October 30, 2008). "Flesh and Blood in a Town of Vampires". The New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Cling, Carol (January 29, 2008). "Las Vegas Academy grad a shooting star". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved April 14, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "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. 
  6. ^ "Rutina Wesley". Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Q&A With Rutina Wesley". Alumni News. The Juilliard School. May 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  8. ^ "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 2012-03-16. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Interview with Rutina Wesley". myFanbase. February 19, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. May 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ Pincus-Roth, Zachary (April 11, 2007). "Public's in Darfur to Star Raffo, Lohr, Washington, Wesley, Jah". Playbill. Retrieved April 14, 2009. 
  12. ^ Marchand, Philip (January 24, 2008). "'How She Move' shows dance as escape". Toronto Star Inc. Retrieved April 14, 2009. 
  13. ^ Fleming, Mike (June 9, 2011). "True Blood's Rutina Wesley Lands Lead in Harrowing Rwanda Tale 'Left To Tell'". Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  14. ^ Prudom, Laura. "'Hannibal' Casts Rutina Wesley as 'Red Dragon's' Reba McClane". Variety. Variety. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Otterson, Joe; Sneider, Jeff. "'True Blood' Alum Rutina Wesley in Talks to Join 'Arrow' for Multi-Episode Arc (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  16. ^ "'Arrow' scoop: Get details on Rutina Wesley's role -". Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  17. ^ Nellie Andreeva. "Rutina Wesley To Star In OWN Drama Series 'Queen Sugar' - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Rutina Wesley Divorcing Jacob Fishel". August 20, 2013. 

External links[edit]