February 3, 1947 |
Greenwood, Mississippi, U.S.
|Other names||Tommie Stewart|
|Alma mater||Jackson State University
Florida State University
|Employer||Alabama State University|
|Television||In the Heat of the Night|
|Parent(s)||Hattie Juanita and Thomas Harris|
Tonea Stewart (born February 3, 1947) is an American actress and university professor best known for her role as Aunt Etta on the television series In the Heat of the Night.
Ms. Tonea Stewart was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. She has lived in Montgomery, Al since 1990. She is a professional actress; play director, national museum exhibit director, tenured Professor and the Dean of the College of Visual & Performing Arts at Alabama State University. As Dean of the College of Visual & Performing Arts, Tonea serves as administrator over the Department of Art, Music, and Theatre. She also serves as professor, role model, motivator, and mentor to the students. Since her arrival, the number of Theatre majors, minors, and the number of graduates from the Department of Theatre Arts have soared. Recently the Department of Theatre Arts received the 2013 and 2014 Best Fine Arts Program Award from HBCU Digest. Over seventy-five percent of the ASU theatre graduates have received full scholarships to major graduate universities such as Brown, Yale, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Louisville, to Washington State, New York University, and Louisiana State University to name a few. Youth and adults from the Montgomery area and across the nation have been touched by her summer performance and enrichment camps: T.A.P.S.(Theatre Artists Performance School), Camp 3T (Teaching through Theatre), TTI(Technical Theatre Initiative), ARPAC (Adult Repertory Performing Arts Camp), and Camp Gifted for persons with disabilities.
After receiving a B.S. degree in Speech and Theatre from Jackson State University and an M.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Tonea completed her Ph.D.in Theatre Arts at Florida State University (FSU), in 1989. She was first the African American female to receive a doctorate from the FSU school of Theatre and the first McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Theatre Arts. During her study at FSU, Tonea also received a fellowship from the National Endowment for Humanities. In 2013 she was the recipient of the Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship Award and the Visual and Performing Arts Award recipient from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 2015.
As an actress, Tonea is perhaps best known for her recurring role of Miss Etta Kibbee in In the Heat of the Night. She earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for her role in the film adaptation of John Grisham's A Time to Kill and a New York World Festival Gold Medal Award for the narration of Public Radio International's series " Remembering Slavery". Tonea began her acing career in 1969 and became the first African American to direct and star in a leading role on a stage at New Stage Theatre, the most prestigious equity theatre in Mississippi. Since then, she has directed major museum exhibitions such as the Rosa Parks Museum, African American Museum of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and The International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, N.C. Stewart has performed in Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Scotland, Turkey and throughout the United States, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. Her screen and television credits include: A Time To Kill, The Rosa Parks Story,Mississippi Burning, Invasion of the Body Snatchers III, Living Large, My Stepson\My Lover, Walker, Texas Ranger, Memphis Beat Matlock,'Leave of Absence,'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ER, Touched by an Angel, " Mississippi Damned and several lifetime Movies, the lasted being The Wronged Man.
Tonea has served as spokesperson for " One Church, One Child" of Alabama and for NOSAP, a Texas-based organization aimed at youth development. She was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame and she holds honorary doctorates from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, Talladega College in Talladega, AL and Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Tonea is a member of the Order of The Golden Circle, a life member of the NAACP, SCLC, Zeta Phi Beta sorority and a member of Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church. She is married to Dr. Allen Stewart; Children: Allen Jr., Alesha, Thomas, an Janice goddaughter and five grandchildren.
She has appeared in numerous TV shows and movies. Stewart taught at Jackson State University for 20 years—where she was crowned Ms. JSU 1969—in Jackson, Mississippi. She earned her PhD. from Florida State University in 1989 and taught Speech at Alabama State University. Stewart is currently the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Alabama State University. She narrated the acclaimed Remembering Slavery radio program.
Guest Starring Roles
- Walker, Texas Ranger "Rise to the Occasion" (1999) as Principal Rivers
- Walker, Texas Ranger "The Trial of LaRue" (1997) as Judge Loretta Paxton
- Memphis Beat "I Want to be Free" as Miss Angelina
- Matlock "The Juror" (1993) as Henrietta Dorsey
- American Horror Story: Coven (2013) as Cora
- In the Heat of the Night (1988) as Aunt Etta
- The Hollars (2015) as Latisha
- Mississippi Damned (2009) as Alice
- A Time to Kill (1996) as Gwen Hailey
- Mississippi Burning (1988) as Mrs. Walker
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1979) as Lillie (credited as Tommie Stewart)
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1978) as Mrs. Avery (credited as Tommie Stewart)
- Nightmare in Badham County (1976) – Alma (credited as Tommie Stewart)