Valarie Pettiford

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Valerie Pettiford
Valarie Pettiford.jpg
Pettiford in October 2009
Born (1960-07-08) July 8, 1960 (age 59)
OccupationActress, dancer, singer
Years active1978—present
Spouse(s)Tony Rader

Valarie Pettiford (born July 8, 1960)[1] is an American stage and television actress, dancer, and jazz singer. She received a Tony nomination for her role in the broadway production Fosse.[2] She is also known for her role as "Big Dee Dee" Thorne on the UPN 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 black 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,[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 and Los Angeles.[2] In 2009, she starred in the solo show Valarie Pettiford - The Concert in Manhattan.[12]


Pettiford's first film role was in 1978 at the age of 18 while still at the High School of Performing Arts, as part of the ensemble in The Wiz.[13] She starred as Mariah Carey's mother in the 2001 film Glitter,[14] had a part 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 2002-6 as Big 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 JJ Abrams.[2] And currently has a re-occurring role as the wife to Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) Assistant Director of the FBI Counter-Terrorism Division, on the NBC drama The Blacklist.


Pettiford released a jazz album, Hear My Soul, in 2005.[3]



Year Title Role Notes
1978 The Wiz chorus member[13]
1984 The Cotton Club dancer[16]
1988 Robots Newscaster
1990 Street Hunter Denise[16]
2001 Confidences Sean[16] Short film
2001 Glitter Lillian Frank[14]
2002 Like Mike Mrs Boyd[16]
2003 Paris Terry[16]
2007 Stomp the Yard Aunt Jackie[15]
2007 The Stolen Months of September Counselor
2009 Why Am I Doing This? Natalie
2009 Anatomy of Hope Deanna Rivers Television Movie
2010 Why Did I Get Married Too? Terry's Mom
2011 Jumping the Broom Aunt Geneva
2012 Stars in Shorts Angel of Death
2012 Battlefield America Ms. Williams
2012 Note to Self Mildred King
2012 Birth Mother Olivia Short
2013 Love Will Keep Us Together Paula Television Movie
2013 The Dempsey Sisters Elizabeth Dempsey
2015 My Favorite Five Pamela Colburn
2015 Will to Love Avyon Hawkins Television Movie
2015 Welcome to the Family Angela
2016 Boy Bye Linda
2016 A Moment Dana Short
2016 The Secrets of Emily Blair Detective Henson
2017 The Preacher's Son First Lady Charlene Wilson
2017 Surviving in L.A. Suzanne
2020 Love Is Love Is Love Wendy Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1988 The Equalizer Jackie Episode: "No Place Like Home"
1988–1990 Another World Det. Courtney Walker Recurring role
1990–1994 One Life to Live Shelia Price Series regular
1996 The Sentinel Angie Ferris Episode: "Out of the Past"
1997 Silk Stalkings Priestess Episode: "Silent Witness"
1997 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Bianca Fleischer/Persephone Episodes: "Honey, You Got Nine Lives", "Honey, I Got Duped"
1997–1998 Fame L.A. Sylvia Williams 3 episodes
1998 Walker, Texas Ranger Angel Blake Episode: "Angel"
1998 Sliders Dr. Grace Venable Episode: "Asylum"
1999 The X-Files FBI Agent Episode: "Two Fathers"
2001 Any Day Now Episode: "10 Days? Are You Crazy?"
2001 Jack & Jill Gabil Episode: "Caution: Parents Crossing"
2001 Sabrina, The Teenage Witch Calliope Episode: "Sabrina, The Muse"
2001 Frasier P.R. Woman Episode: "Hooping Cranes"
2002 The West Wing White House Security Guard Janice Episode: "Enemies Foreign and Domestic"
2002–2004 The District Gayle Noland Recurring role, 8 episodes
2002–2006 Half & Half Big Dee Dee Throne Series regular, 91 episodes
2007 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Susan Latham Episode: "Fallen Idols"
2007 Bones Ellen Laskow Episode: "The Bodies in the Book"
2008–2009 Tyler Perry's House of Payne Sandra Lucas 3 episodes
2009 Criminal Minds Sharon Harris Episode: "Soul Mates"
2011 The Cape Judge Preston Episode: "Scales"
2012 The Finder Chatney DuBois Episode: "Bullets"
2012 Hart of Dixie Carolyn Hayes Episode: "Snowflakes & Soulmates"
2012 Bunheads Vi Episode: "For Fanny"
2012 Treme Victorine Fornerat-Williams Episodes: "Knock with Me-Rock With Me", "Saints"
2013 Golden Boy Maxine Owen 4 episodes
2013 True Blood Mary Wright Episodes: "In the Evening", "Dead Meat"
2015–2016 Born Again Virgin Beverly 3 episodes
2015–2016 The Blacklist Charlene Cooper Recurring role, 11 episodes
2016 Black-ish Donna Duckworth Episode: "Johnson & Johnson"
2017 Being Mary Jane Rhonda Sales Recurring role
2017–2018 Valor Simone Porter Recurring role
2018 A Luv Tale: The Series Diana Mini Series
2018-present A Discovery of Witches Emily Mather Main role
2018-present The Family Business Charlotte Duncan Main role
2020 BlackAF Grandma 1 episode

Stage roles[edit]

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][23] She is married to her manager, actor and former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Tony Rader.[1][24] They got engaged in 1991.[25]


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

External links[edit]