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Valarie Pettiford

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Valarie Pettiford
Pettiford in 2009
Born (1960-07-08) July 8, 1960 (age 63)
  • Actress
  • dancer
  • singer
Years active1978–present
SpouseTony Rader

Valarie Pettiford (born July 8, 1960)[1] is an American stage and television actress, dancer, and jazz singer. She received a Tony Award nomination for her role in the broadway production Fosse.[2] She is also known for her role as Deirdre "Big Dee Dee" LaFontaine Thorne on the UPN television sitcom Half & Half.


Pettiford began her career as a dancer and choreographer in Bob Fosse productions on Broadway.[3] Alvin Klein of the New York Times wrote of her role in the 1983 musical revue Ladies and Gentlemen, Jerome Kern! that "You will not for a moment take your eyes off Valarie Pettiford, the show's standout: a sinewy dancer who can be sultry or sweet, measure for measure, as prescribed.... Miss Pettiford appears to be a superbly trained dancer, schooled in balletic finesse and Broadway-style razzmatazz - and a stunning presence."[4] Leah Frank, also in the NYT, wrote of Pettiford's appearance in West Side Story in 1987: "The mainstay of the supporting cast is Valarie Pettiford, whose Anita is spicy, sensual and full of fire. She is an exciting actress who has a special quality needed to ignite a number such as America."[5]

In 1994, she played lesbian Cassandra Keefer in The Naked Truth,[6] and from 1995 to 1996 starred as Julie in a touring production of Show Boat.[7]

Pettiford received a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical and a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for her role in the Broadway production Fosse from 1998 to 1999.[2][8] Variety said Pettiford gave "a coolly elegant vocal rendition, [and she] is also a sultry, powerful dancer."[9] She left Fosse to appear as Velma Kelly in Chicago in the West End in London from August 1999 to February 2000, alongside Chita Rivera as Roxie Hart.[2][8]

In 2007 Pettiford won the Backstage Bistro Award for her cabaret debut at the Metropolitan Room in New York City,[10] and won an NAACP Theatre Award for her lead role in The Wild Party.[11] In 2008, she starred in a solo show, Valarie Pettiford - Thankful that played in New York City and Los Angeles.[2] In 2009, she starred in the solo show Valarie Pettiford - The Concert in New York City.[12]


In 1978, at the age of 17 and enrolled at the High School of Performing Arts, Pettiford did her first-ever movie work as part of the large ensemble in the film The Wiz.[13] She starred as Mariah Carey's mother in the 2001 film Glitter,[14] had a role in Stomp the Yard in 2007,[15] and played Aunt Geneva in the 2011 film, Jumping the Broom.


In the 1990s, Pettiford appeared on daytime soap operas,[3] including Another World and One Life to Live (where she originated the role of Sheila Price). Her Half & Half role from 2002 to 2006 as Dee Dee Thorne gained her three NAACP Image Award nominations.[2] From 2008 to 2009, she played Sandra Lucas in the comedy-drama series Tyler Perry's House of Payne.[2] She also appeared in the HBO pilot Anatomy of Hope, directed by J. J. Abrams.[2] Pettiford plays a recurring role as the wife to Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix), Assistant Director of the FBI Counter-Terrorism Division, on the NBC drama The Blacklist.

She has also starred in the TV series A Discovery of Witches as the witch Emily Mather


While on Half & Half, Pettiford released a jazz album, Hear My Soul, in 2005.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Pettiford was born in Queens, New York to Ralph and Blanch Pettiford,[16] and graduated from the High School of Performing Arts in 1978.[1][17] She is married to her manager, actor and former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Tony Rader.[1][18] They got engaged in 1991.[19]



Year Title Role Notes
1978 The Wiz Chorus Member [13]
1984 The Cotton Club Dancer [16]
1988 Robots Newscaster Video
1990 Street Hunter Denise [16]
2001 Confidences Sean Short [16]
Glitter Lillian Frank [14]
2002 Like Mike Mrs Boyd [16]
2003 Paris Terry [16]
2007 Stomp the Yard Aunt Jackie [15]
The Stolen Months of September Counselor
2009 Why Am I Doing This? Natalie
Guys and Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl Hot Box Girl Video
Anatomy of Hope Deanna Rivers TV movie
2010 Why Did I Get Married Too? Harriet
Not Your Time Angel of Death Short
2011 Jumping the Broom Aunt Geneva
Nurse Jackée - Short
2012 Battlefield America Ms. Williams
Note to Self Mildred 'Momma' King
Birth Mother Olivia Short
2013 Love Will Keep Us Together Paula TV movie
The Dempsey Sisters Elizabeth Dempsey
2015 My Favorite Five Pamela Colburn
Will to Love Avyon Hawkins TV movie
Welcome to the Family Angela TV movie
2016 The Secrets of Emily Blair Detective Henson
Boy Bye Linda
A Moment Dana Short
2017 The Preacher's Son First Lady Charlene Wilson
2018 The Choir Director First Lady Charlene Wilson
No More Mr Nice Guy Lorna Monroe
We Belong Together Diane
Jingle Belle Faith Williams TV movie
2019 Blind Sight Cheryl Short
If Not Now, When? Lorna
2020 Surviving in L.A. Suzanne
Love Is Love Is Love Wendy
2021 Senior Moment Judge Alice Miller
Hip Hop Family Christmas Nancy TV movie
Merry Switchmas Colleen


Year Title Role Notes
1988 The Equalizer Jackie Episode: "No Place Like Home"
1988–90 Another World Detective Courtney Walker Regular Cast
1990–94 One Life to Live Dr. Sheila Price Regular Cast
1996 The Sentinel Angie Ferris Episode: "Out of the Past"
1997 Silk Stalkings Marnie Episode: "Silent Witness"
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show Bianca Fleischer/Persephone Episode: "Honey, You Got Nine Lives" & "Honey, I Got Duped"
1997–98 Fame L.A. Sylvia Williams Recurring cast
1998 Walker, Texas Ranger Angel Blake Episode: "Angel"
Sliders Dr. Grace Venable Episode: "Asylum"
1999 The X-Files FBI Agent Ann Jones Episode: "Two Fathers"
2001 Any Day Now Valerie Episode: "10 Days? Are You Crazy?"
Jack & Jill Gabi Episode: "Caution: Parents Crossing"
Sabrina, The Teenage Witch Calliope Episode: "Sabrina, The Muse"
Frasier P.R. Woman Episode: "Hooping Cranes"
Men, Women & Dogs Teri Forrester Episode: "Top Dog"
2002 State of Grace - Episode: "Fortunate Son"
The West Wing White House Security Guard Janice Allen Episode: "Enemies Foreign and Domestic"
2002–04 The District Gayle Noland Guest: Season 2, Recurring cast: Season 3-4
2002–06 Half & Half Deirdre "Big Dee Dee" LaFontaine Thorne Main Cast
2006 CSI: Miami Dr. Lana Whitford Episode: "Open Water"
2007 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Susan Latham Episode: "Fallen Idols"
Bones Ellen Laskow Episode: "The Bodies in the Book"
2008–11 Tyler Perry's House of Payne Sandra Lucas Recurring cast: Season 4-7
2009 Criminal Minds Sharon Harris Episode: "Soul Mates"
2011 The Cape Judge Valerie Preston Episode: "Scales on a train"
2012 The Finder Chatney DuBois Episode: "Bullets"
Hart of Dixie Carolyn Hayes Episode: "Snowflakes & Soulmates"
Bunheads Vi Episode: "For Fanny"
Treme Victorine Fornerat-Williams Episodes: "Knock with Me-Rock With Me" & "Saints"
2013 Golden Boy Maxine Owen Recurring cast
True Blood Mary Wright Episodes: "In the Evening" & "Dead Meat"
2015–16 Born Again Virgin Beverly Guest: Season 1, Recurring cast: Season 2
2015–21 The Blacklist Charlene Cooper Recurring cast: Season 2-3 & 9, guest: Season 8
2016 Black-ish Donna Duckworth Episode: "Johnson & Johnson"
2017 Being Mary Jane Rhonda Sales Recurring cast: Season 4
2017–18 Valor Simone Porter Recurring cast
2018–present The Family Business Charlotte Duncan Main Cast
2018–22 A Discovery of Witches Emily Mather Main Cast
2019 The Baxters Diane Recurring cast: Season 3
2020 BlackAF Grandma Episode: "yo, between you and me... this is because of slavery"
2021 Home Economics Rachel Episode: "Triple Scoop of Ice Cream, $6.39"
A Luv Tale: The Series Diana Recurring cast
NCIS Sonia Eberhart Episode: "Road to Nowhere" & "Great Wide Open"
2022 First Wives Club Nancy 2 episodes

Stage roles[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rout, Nancy E.; Buckley, Ellen (1993). The Soap Opera Book: Who's Who in Daytime Drama. Todd Publications. p. 207. ISBN 0-915344-23-8.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Valarie Pettiford to Perform 'Thankful' at Upright Cabaret". Broadway World. October 10, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Gordon, Ed (July 13, 2005). "Valarie Pettiford: 'Hear My Soul'". NPR. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  4. ^ Klein, Alvin (July 31, 1983). "Theater; Evening of Kern is a pleasure". New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  5. ^ Frank, Leah D. (August 30, 1987). "Theater review; 'West Side Story': staging at its best". New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  6. ^ Brantley, Ben (June 17, 1994). "Review/Theater; Gay Guru Offers Advice For the Love-Locked". New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  7. ^ Novakovich, Iilana (January 13, 1995). "Ex One Life star in Toronto Show Boat". The Record. Ontario. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c Jones, Kenneth (July 20, 1999). "Reva Rice, Formerly of Starlight Express, Steams Into Fosse July 20". Playbill. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  9. ^ Isherwood, Charles (January 15, 1999). "Fosse (Dance revue -- Broadhurst Theater)". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  10. ^ Gans, Andrew (March 1, 2007). "Luker, David, Pettiford and Stritch Among Bistro Award Winners". Playbill. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  11. ^ Stitt, Eric (February 20, 2007). "NAACP fetes Fishburne, Pettiford". Variety. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  12. ^ "Tony Nominee Valarie Pettiford Sings Abel/Steffan, Mondays in May at Metropolitan Room". Broadway World. May 11, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Valarie Pettiford". The Tennessee Tribune. November 27, 1996. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  14. ^ a b Van Gelder, Laurence (September 21, 2001). "Glitter (2001); Dreaming a Dream and Paying the Price for It". New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  15. ^ a b Waldron, Clarence (January 8, 2007). "Why 'Stomp the Yard' is the Must-See Movie of the Season". Jet. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Valarie Pettiford Biography (1960-)". Film Reference. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  17. ^ "1978 Graduates". High School of Performing Arts. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  18. ^ Robinson-English, Tracey (August 2005). "Infertility: help for couples trying to conceive". Ebony. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  19. ^ "Tipoff". Star-News. November 26, 1991. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  20. ^ a b c d e "Valarie Pettiford". Broadway World. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  21. ^ Segal, Lewis (April 19, 2002). "Scene-Stealing Enhances a Classic Feydeau Farce". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  22. ^ Shirley, Don (March 8, 2002). "What the Blonds Prefer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  23. ^ Simon, John (March 21, 1994). "Theater". New York Magazine. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  24. ^ Simon, John (July 20, 1992). "Two obits, one encomium". New York Magazine. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  25. ^ Kelly, Kevin (April 7, 1986). "Bob Fosse's New 'Big Deal'". New York Magazine. Retrieved July 18, 2010.

External links[edit]