May 30, 1962 |
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Alma mater||Whitney M. Young Magnet High School
Columbia College Chicago
California Western School of Law
|Spouse(s)||Ron Brawer (m. 1987–1993)
Hubert Kelley (m. 1984–1987)
Tonya Pinkins (born May 30, 1952) is an American television, film and theater actress and author known for her portrayal of Livia Frye on the soap opera All My Children and for her roles on Broadway. She has been nominated for three Tony Awards, and has won the Obie, 2 Lortel Awards, the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, AUDLECO, Garland, LA Drama Critic's, Clarence Derwent and NAACP Theater Awards. She has been nominated for the Olivier, Helen Hayes, Noel, Joseph Jefferson, NACCP Image, Soap Opera Digest and Ovation awards. She won the Tony for Jelly's Last Jam.
Pinkins was born in Chicago, Illinois. She has four children. Her father was a police officer and insurance salesman and her mother is a former postal worker. She has two brothers, Eric Swoope and Thomas Swoope and a sister Tamera Swoope from whom she is estranged. She was interested in the arts from a young age. In high school, she studied acting at the Goodman Theatre Young People's Program. Aged 18, she briefly attended college and decided to pursue an acting career instead. She later returned to college, earning an undergraduate degree from Columbia College in Chicago, followed by graduate work at Carnegie Mellon's music theater program, and a year at California Western School of Law in San Diego.
Pinkins is probably most admired for her stage work. She won a Tony Award for her performance as Sweet Anita in Jelly's Last Jam. She was nominated for her roles in Play On! and in Caroline, or Change, where she played the title role. Her additional Broadway credits include Merrily We Roll Along, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, The Wild Party, House of Flowers, Radio Golf, A Time To Kill  and Holler If Ya Hear Me.
Pinkins has performed in several Off Broadway productions, including the comic role of Mopsa, the Shepherdess, in The Winter's Tale produced by the Riverside Shakespeare Company at The Shakespeare Center in 1983.
In 2011, Pinkins starred in the world premiere of Kirsten Greenidge’s Milk Like Sugar at La Jolla Playhouse, and received a 2012 Craig Noel nomination for Best featured Actress in a Play. She reprised her role in the Playwrights Horizons in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, and garnered a 2012 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play.
In 2012 Pinkins starred in Katori Hall's play Hurt Village, the gritty drama about life and change in a Memphis housing project made its world-premiere at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company as part of the theatre's inaugural season. The play also Marsha Stephanie Blake, Ron Cephas Jones, Saycon Sengbloh, Lloyd Watts, Charlie Hudson III, Nicholas Christopher, Corey Hawkins, Ron Cephas Jones and Joaquina Kalukango.
In 2014, Pinkins appeared in New Federal Theatre's revival of Ed Bullins' The Fabulous Miss Marie opposite Roscoe Orman; in the Broadway production of Holler If Ya Hear Me; and the world premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' War at Yale Repertory.
She has also had a prolific television career making guest appearances on such television shows as Army Wives, 24, Law & Order, The Cosby Show, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, and The Guardian among others. During the mid-1980s Pinkins created the role of Heather Dalton on the CBS soap, As the World Turns. In 1991 she was cast as Livia Frye in All My Children. Pinkins left All My Children in 1995 but returned to her role in 2003. She was later put on contract with the show from March 2004 until June 2006, when she was downgraded to recurring status. She has played Amala Motobo on the popular television show 24. She has appeared in several films in supporting roles, including Newlyweeds, Home, Fading Gigolo opposite Woody Allen, Enchanted, Premium, Romance & Cigarettes, Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom and Above the Rim among others. Pinkins performs several cabaret shows including Bring On The Men with Brad Simmons, Tonya Pinkins UnPlugged at The National Black Theater Festival and Hurricane Ethel.
Awards and honors
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- 2014 AUDELCO Nomination - Best Lead Actress - The Fabulous Miss Marie
- 2012 Craig Noel Nomination - Best Featured Actress in a Play - Milk Like Sugar
- 2010 Helen Hayes Nomination - Best Actress in a Play - Black Pearl Sings
- 2008 Ovation Nomination - Best Actress in a Play - And Her Hair Went with Her
- 2007 What's On Stage Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical in London - Caroline, or Change
- 2007 Audience Choice Award for favorite Featured Actress in a Play - Radio Golf
- 2007 Olivier Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Caroline, or Change
- 2005 NACCP Theater Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Caroline, or Change
- 2004-2005 Los Angeles Drama Critics Award - Lead Actress for Caroline, or Change
- 2004 Backstage “Garland Award” - Outstanding Performance for Caroline, or Change
- 2004 AUDELCO Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Caroline, or Change
- 2004 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Caroline, or Change
- 2004 Tony Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Caroline, or Change
- 2004 Outer Critics Circle Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Caroline, or Change
- 2004 Drama Desk Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Caroline, or Change
- 2004 Drama League Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Caroline, or Change
- 2003-2004 OBIE Award - Best Actress in a Musical - Caroline, or Change
- 1998 Black Theater Alliance Nomination, Best Featured Actress for Play On!, Goodman Theater, Chicago
- 1998 Joseph Jefferson Nomination, Best Actress in a Musical for Play On!, Goodman Theater, Chicago
- 1997 Tony Nomination, Best Actress in a Musical for Play On!, Broadway
- 1992 Outer Critics Circle Award, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Jelly's Last Jam, Broadway
- 1992 N.A.A.C.P. Image Nomination, Best Actress in a Daytime Drama for All My Children
- 1992 Tony Award, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Jelly's Last Jam, Broadway
- 1992 Drama Desk Award, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Jelly's Last Jam, Broadway
- 1992 Clarence Derwent Award, Most Promising Actress of the Season for Jelly's Last Jam, Broadway
- 1992 Monarch Award, Best Actress in a Musical for Jelly's Last Jam, Broadway
- 1992 Soap Opera Digest Nomination, Best Featured Actress in a Daytime Drama for All My Children
- Playbill News: Her Shining Hour: Tonya Pinkins Sings Arlen
- For a photo of Tonya Pinkins in the role of Mopsa in The Winter's Tale, see Riverside Shakespeare Company
- Broadway.com Staff. "Tony Winner Tonya Pinkins to Star in Milk Like Sugar at Playwrights Horizons". Broadway.com, September 23, 2011
- Blank, Matthew (February 23, 2012). "PHOTO CALL: Tonya Pinkins, Saycon Sengbloh and More in Katori Hall's Hurt Village". Playbill.com.
- Tonya Pinkins at the Internet Movie Database
- Tonya Pinkins at the Internet Broadway Database
- Tonya Pinkins at the Internet Movie Database
- Tonya Pinkins at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Tonya Pinkins' Official website