Tonea Stewart

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Tonea Stewart
Born (1947-02-03) February 3, 1947 (age 75)
Other namesTommie Stewart
Alma mater
OccupationActress/professor
Years active1976–present
EmployerAlabama State University
TelevisionIn the Heat of the Night
Parent(s)Hattie Juanita and Thomas Harris

Tonea Stewart (born February 3, 1947),[1] also Tommie Stewart, is an American actress and university professor. She is the former dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts of Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama.[2]

She had a recurring role as Aunt Etta Kibby in the American television series In the Heat of the Night,[2] and is an NAACP Image Award nominee for acting in film A Time to Kill.

From the beginning of her acting career until 2019, Stewart concurrently worked as an actress and educator; she did not act full time until her retirement from teaching.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Stewart was born in Greenwood, Mississippi,[5] the daughter of Hattie (née Leonard) and Thomas Harris.[1] Her father worked as an electrician and plumber, while Stewart's mother was an educator.[5] They would divorce when Stewart was 4 years old.[5] Her sister, Beverly Branson, is a singer, and the two have performed together on stage.[6]

Her original intention was to become a doctor, and she studied biology at Jackson State University. However, after acting in a school production, Stewart changed her major to theater.[5] She earned a BS degree in speech and theater at Jackson, and then studied theater at the University of California at Santa Barbara. In 1989, Stewart received a PhD in theater arts from Florida State University.[2]

Acting career[edit]

Stewart's first performance on screen was in TV movie Nightmare in Badham County (1976).[7] She appeared as Mrs. Walker in film Mississippi Burning (1988).[1] From 1991 to 1993, Stewart played Aunt Etta Kibby on In the Heat of the Night.[8] On the series, she had previously portrayed a different character, and returned under this new role as producers were impressed with her performance.[9] Stewart acted in the feature films Body Snatchers,[10] Livin' Large,[11] Mississippi Damned and Girls Trip.[4]

She has made guest appearances on television series Matlock, Walker, Texas Ranger,[12] ER and Touched by an Angel.[1] She played Gwen Hailey, the wife of Samuel L. Jackson's character, in A Time to Kill (1996).[13] Stewart received an NAACP Image Award nomination for her work in this film.[4] In Come Sunday (2018), she portrayed the mother of Pentecostal bishop Carlton Pearson.[5]

The majority of Stewart's work has been in television films.[1] She acted in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Don't Look Back: The Story of Leroy 'Satchel' Paige (portraying the mother of Satchel Paige)[14] and The Rosa Parks Story, where she appeared as Johnnie Carr.[15] In 1994, Stewart appeared in the TV movies One Christmas as Evangeline[16] and A Passion for Justice: The Hazel Brannon Smith Story as Henrietta.[17] She portrayed Memaw, the grandmother of Halle Downing, in the Oprah Winfrey Network movie First Christmas.[18]

Teaching career[edit]

Stewart began teaching in 1971,[4] educating high school students.[1] At her alma mater, Jackson State University, she taught speech to her students.[19] By 1983, Stewart was assistant professor for the dramatics and speech departments at Jackson.[20]

Starting in 1990, she was a professor at the College of Visual and Performing Arts for Alabama State University, also chairing the theater department.[4] Stewart eventually became dean before retiring in 2019 after 48 years in education.[4] One of her students was Stephen Boss.[21]

In 2020, Stewart was appointed by Alabama state governor Kay Ivey to represent the fifth district of the Alabama State Board of Education.[22]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Allen Stewart, with whom she has three children.[1] One of her grandchildren is Jennifer Dallas.

Filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

Guest Starring Roles

Starring Roles

Film[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g McCann, Bob (October 30, 2009). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland & Company. p. 314. ISBN 9780786458042.
  2. ^ a b c Catherine Bullock (February 12, 2016). ASU Dean honored with Mississippi Governor’s Arts Award. Montgomery Advertiser. Accessed January 2018.
  3. ^ Hane, Bobb (August 17, 2007). "District's opening summit speaker calls to mind the strength, wisdom of our grandmothers, urges teachers to find it". The Herald Independent. p. 3.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Barker, Cyril Josh (June 13, 2019). "Longtime HBCU theater professor retires". The Amsterdam News. Retrieved October 27, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e "JSU alum, actor Tonea Stewart talks growing up in 'The Sip' and role in new Netflix biopic". Jackson State University. April 17, 2018. Retrieved October 27, 2022.
  6. ^ Daniel, Clifton (December 15, 1994). "2 sisters stage 'Four Women'". Star-News. p. D1.
  7. ^ "'Informance' to feature noted actress Stewart". Times Daily. February 19, 1993. p. 8B.
  8. ^ Coakley, Deirdre (January 31, 1992). "Black heritage tribute". Gadsden Times. p. C1.
  9. ^ Franks, Randall (January 1, 2003). "'Aunt Etta' still sharing her wisdom". Calhoun Times. p. 4A.
  10. ^ Rauch Klotman, Phyllis; Gibson, Gloria J. (1997). Frame by Frame II: A Filmography of the African American Image, 1978-1994. Indiana University Press. p. 63. ISBN 9780253211200.
  11. ^ Willis, John (May 1993). Screen World 1992. Applause Theatre & Cinema Book Publishers. p. 168.
  12. ^ "Stewart is making it on her own terms". Indianapolis Recorder. July 12, 1997. p. B1.
  13. ^ Gaul, Lou (July 26, 1996). "'A Time to Kill' stirs emotions, forces thought". The Beaver County Times. p. 6.
  14. ^ Erickson, Hal (March 23, 2016). The Baseball Filmography, 1915 Through 2001 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Company. p. 146. ISBN 9781476607856.
  15. ^ Cobb, Mark Hughes (March 12, 2002). "Actress, educator to perform for fund-raiser". The Tuscaloosa News. p. D1.
  16. ^ Britton, Andrew (2003). Katharine Hepburn: Star as Feminist. Columbia University Press. p. 249. ISBN 9780231132770.
  17. ^ Marill, Alvin H. (2005). Movies Made for Television, 1964-2004: 1990-1999. Scarecrow Press. p. 390.
  18. ^ Petski, Denise (November 10, 2020). "OWN Sets Three Holiday Movies Starring Vivica A. Fox, Jackée Harry, Lamman Rucker, Meagan Holder, Idara Victor, Tonea Stewart". Deadline. Retrieved October 27, 2022.
  19. ^ Flucker, Turry; Savage, Phoenix (2008). African Americans of Jackson. Arcadia Publishing. p. 114. ISBN 9780738553283.
  20. ^ "Actress To Perform In Albany". The Albany Herald. April 3, 1983. p. 3A.
  21. ^ Hines, Ree (July 5, 2022). "Hoda Kotb Surprises tWitch With Former Theater Coach". Yahoo!. Retrieved October 27, 2022.
  22. ^ "Governor Ivey Appoints Dr. Tommie Stewart to State Board of Education". Governor of Alabama. January 7, 2020. Retrieved October 27, 2022.