Vanessa Bell Calloway
Vanessa Bell Calloway
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Ohio University|
Vanessa Bell Calloway is an American actress and dancer. Beginning her career as a dancer, Bell Calloway became known for her film roles as Princess Imani Izzi in the 1988 comedy Coming to America, as well as for her roles in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), The Inkwell (1994), Crimson Tide (1995), and Daylight (1996). Bell Calloway had several starring roles on television series and movies, include first African American prime time soap opera, Under One Roof (1995). She later played recurring roles on Hawthorne and Shameless. In 2016, she appeared in comedy-drama film Southside with You, and began starring as Lady Ella Johnson in the Bounce TV prime time soap opera, Saints & Sinners. Bell Calloway is a nine-time NAACP Image Award nominee.
Bell was born in Toledo, Ohio. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ohio University, where she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.. Calloway also studied dance with Alvin Ailey, George Faison, and Otis Sallid. Calloway began her career as a dancer in Michael Bennett's original Broadway production of Dreamgirls. It was during this time period that Calloway directed the music video "Angel Man" for soul singer Rhetta Hughes. She also was in the ensemble of the short-lived musical Bring Back Birdie.
Bell Calloway began her acting career in the ABC daytime soap opera, All My Children in 1985. After moving to Los Angeles in 1986, she began appearing in episodes of prime time shows such as The Colbys, Falcon Crest, 227, China Beach, A Different World, and L.A. Law. She made her film debut on Number One with a Bullet (1987), before supporting role of Eddie Murphy's character's arranged wife in the 1988 comedy Coming to America. In 1990, Bell Calloway co-starred alongside Joe Morton in the ABC drama series, Equal Justice. During the 1990s, Bell Calloway had number of supporting roles in films, including What's Love Got to Do with It (1993) opposite Angela Bassett, The Inkwell (1994), and Crimson Tide (1995) as Denzel Washington's character wife. She also voiced main role in the 1992 animated comedy, Bébé's Kids. Bell Calloway also had number of leading and supporting roles in the made for television movies. In 1995, she co-starred opposite James Earl Jones and Joe Morton in the short-lived CBS prime time soap opera, Under One Roof, the first drama series that feature an African-American lead characters. For her role on the series, Calloway was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. She also had the leading roles on the short-leved NBC sitcom Rhythm & Blues (1992–93), and starred alongside Larry Hagman as his girlfriend in the CBS drama Orleans (1997).
In the 2000s, Bell Calloway had the recurring roles on Boston Public and The District. She co-starred in films including The Brothers, All About You, Dawg, Biker Boyz, Love Don't Cost a Thing, and Cheaper by the Dozen. Bell Calloway also guest starred on The Division, Strong Medicine, The Closer, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Dexter, Rizzoli & Isles, and Castle. From 2010 to 2011, she had the recurring role in the TNT medical drama, Hawthorne. In 2011, she began appearing in the Showtime comedy-drama, Shameless.
In 2016, Bell Calloway was cast as lead character in the Bounce TV first prime time soap opera, Saints & Sinners. She plays Lady Ella Johnson, the widow of pastor and manipulative "First Lady of the Church". Also in 2016, Bell Calloway co-starred as president Obama's future mother-in-law, Marian Shields Robinson, opposite Tika Sumpter as Michelle Obama, in the comedy-drama film Southside with You, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. She also guest starred on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy playing Arizona's Lawyer.
In 2018, Bell Calloway appeared in the Christian drama film Unbroken: Path to Redemption and the crime thriller Dragged Across Concrete. In 2019, she played abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s mother in the biographical drama film Harriet. She reprised her role as Imani Izzi in the 2021 sequel Coming 2 America.
Bell Calloway has been married to anesthesiologist Dr. Anthony Calloway since 1988. The couple have two daughters, Ashley and Alexandra. Ashley was one of the stars of the BET series Baldwin Hills which originally ran from 2007 until 2009.
In 2009, Bell Calloway was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma, an early stage of breast cancer. She underwent two lumpectomies, and then a mastectomy. She subsequently underwent reconstructive surgery, in which tissue from her stomach was used to reconstruct her breast. She recounted her experience in an October 2015 essay in Ebony magazine, by which point she had been cancer-free for six years.
|1987||Number One with a Bullet||Woman|
|1988||The Return of Desperado||Molly Pickett||TV Movie|
|Coming to America||Imani Izzi|
|The Loner||Carver||TV Movie|
|1989||Polly||Nancy Dodds||TV Movie|
|A Little Bit Strange||Marilyn McClane-Masterson||TV Movie|
|Death Spa||Marci Hewitt|
|1990||Piece of Cake||Doreen||TV Movie|
|1992||Memphis||Martha Kinship||TV Movie|
|Stompin' at the Savoy||Dorothy||TV Movie|
|1993||What's Love Got to Do with It||Jackie|
|1994||The Inkwell||Francis Phillips|
|1995||Crimson Tide||Julia Hunter|
|1996||America's Dream||Miss Dina Williams||TV Movie|
|The Cherokee Kid||Abby Holsopple||TV Movie|
|1998||Archibald the Rainbow Painter||Diana|
|When It Clicks||Catherine Douglass||Short|
|2000||A Private Affair||Nikita Harrell||TV Movie|
|Love Song||Evie Livingston||TV Movie|
|2001||The Brothers||Dr. Thelma Woolridge|
|All About You||Donna|
|2002||The Red Sneakers||Berniece||TV Movie|
|Love Don't Cost a Thing||Vivian Johnson|
|Cheaper by the Dozen||Diana Philips|
|2004||Pryor Offenses'||Gertrude||TV Movie|
|2008||Lakeview Terrace||Aunt Dorrie|
|Aussie and Ted's Great Adventure||Mrs. Jones|
|The Killing of Wendy||Wendy|
|Applause for Miss E||Miss E||TV Movie|
|2012||The Last Fall||Marie Bishop|
|A Beautiful Soul||Guardian Angel|
|The Obama Effect||Molly Thomas|
|The Undershepherd||Deaconess Carter|
|2013||Between Sisters||Lilian||TV Movie|
|2014||The Divorce||Eva||TV Movie|
|2015||To Hell and Back||Colleen||TV Movie|
|Emergency Contact||Ruthie Biltmore||TV Movie|
|About Scout||Faith Price|
|2016||Southside with You||Marian Shields Robinson|
|Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story||Josephine|
|Post Life||Diane McIntosh||Short|
|The Bounce Back||Ellen|
|LAPD African Cops||Officer Collins|
|Hustle vs. Heartache||Hustle's Mother|
|2017||The Preacher's Son||Elena|
|Message from a Mistress||Heather|
|Girl Minus||Ivys Mom|
|2018||Love, Once and Always||Isabel||TV Movie|
|Dragged Across Concrete||Jennifer Johns|
|Unbroken: Path to Redemption||Lila Burkholder|
|Her Only Choice||Dr. Bailey|
|Throwback Holiday||Mildred Anderson|
|The Counter: 1960||Nicole||Short|
|2021||Saints & Sinners Judgment Day||Ella||TV Movie|
|Coming 2 America||Imani Izzi|
|1985||All My Children||Yvonne Caldwell||4 Episodes|
|1985, 1988||Days of Our Lives||Charlene/Denise Preston||17 Episodes|
|1986||The Colbys||Lowell Sherman||Episode: "The Trial"|
|Simon & Simon||Julie||Episode: "Act Five"|
|Falcon Crest||Nurse||Episode: "Double Jeopardy"|
|1987||227||Sherry||Episode: "The Honeymoon's Over"|
|1989||Webster||Denice||Episode: "A-Camping We Will Go"|
|In the Heat of the Night||Audrey Moore||Episode: "Accused"|
|1990||1st & Ten||Della King||2 Episodes|
|Equal Justice||Delia Wayne||Recurring Cast, Season 1|
|China Beach||Hula||Episode: "One Giant Leap"|
|1990-1991||A Different World||Danielle Vinson/Lily Connors||2 Episodes|
|1991||L.A. Law||Robyn Edwards||Episode: "Splatoon"|
|Father Dowling Mysteries||Dr. Emily Stone||Episode: "The Monkey Business Mystery"|
|The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage||Rene||Episode: "Look for the Union Label"|
|Doctor Doctor||Gail Butterfield||Episode: "Butterfields Are Free"|
|1992||Dream On||Jeanette||2 Episodes|
|1992-1993||Rhythm & Blues||Colette Hawkins||Main Cast|
|1993||The Sinbad Show||Michelle Michaels||Episode: "The Par-tay"|
|Where I Live||Episode: "The Big Easy"|
|1995||Under One Roof||Maggie Langston||Main Cast|
|Touched by an Angel||Debra Willis||Episode: "The Driver"|
|1997||Orleans||Rosalee Clark||Main Cast|
|Sparks||Monique||Episode: "Too Hot Not to Cool Down"|
|Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child||Princess Katusha||Episode: "The Golden Goose"|
|The Gregory Hines Show||Kyra Lewis||Episode: "Wahunthra"|
|Moesha||Dr. Madeline Woods||Episode: "Psyche Your Mind"|
|The Temptations||Johnnie Mae Matthews||2 Episodes|
|1999||Malcolm & Eddie||Vina Jensen||Episode: "Daddio"|
|2001||Diagnosis: Murder||Mrs. Calender||Episode: "No Good Deed"|
|Boston Public||Mrs. Michelle Ronning||3 Episodes|
|The Division||Dana||Episode: "The First Hit's Free, Baby"|
|2002||One on One||Michelle McCall||Episode: "The Way You Make Me Feel"|
|The Parkers||Alaina||Episode: "And the Winner Is..."|
|2003–2004||10-8: Officers on Duty||Gina Barnes||3 Episodes|
|The District||Gwen Hendrix||Recurring Cast, Season 4|
|2004||CSI: Miami||Tonya Washington||Episode: "Speed Kills"|
|Strong Medicine||Melanie Rhodes||Episode: "Foreign Bodies"|
|2005||Joan of Arcadia||Corey Phillips||Episode: "Shadows and Light"|
|2006||The Closer||Lynn Talmadge||Episode: "Slippin'"|
|All of Us||Marvella James||2 Episodes|
|2009||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Judge Gina Himmel||Episode: "Miscarriage of Justice"|
|Cold Case||Geraldine Watkins (1970)||Episode: "Soul"|
|2010||Dexter||Dr. Vanessa Abrams||Episode: "Practically Perfect"|
|Outlaw||Episode: "In Re: Kelvin Jones"|
|2010-2011||Hawthorne||Gail Strummer||Recurring Cast, Season 2–3|
|2011||Detroit 1-8-7||Bonnie McCord||Episode: "Stone Cold"|
|Let's Stay Together||Mimi||Episode: "Daddy's Home"|
|Harry's Law||Judge Jude Campbell||2 Episodes|
|2011-2021||Shameless||Carol Fisher||Recurring Cast, 23 episodes|
|2012||Ringer||Agent Royce Wiegler||Episode "I'm the Good Twin"|
|Go On||Joyce Gold||2 Episodes|
|2012-2013||Rizzoli & Isles||Assistant District Attorney Edna Calloway||3 Episodes|
|2013||Castle||Beryl Wickfield||Episode: "Time Will Tell"|
|2014||NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service||Sally Hammond||Episode "Crescent City: Part 1"|
|Reckless||Judge Ella Kress||Episode "Parting Shots"|
|Almost Home||Jocelyn Sanders||Episode "She Wants That Old Thing Back..."|
|2015||Murder in the First||Veronza Ervin||2 Episodes|
|Real Husbands of Hollywood||Trina's Mother||Episode: "When Kevin Met Salli"|
|Hand of God||Eunetta Graham||2 Episodes|
|In the Cut||Samantha||Episode: "Like Father, Like Son"|
|2016||Grey's Anatomy||Lucinda Gamble||2 Episodes|
|2016–present||Saints & Sinners||Lady Ella Johnson||Main Cast|
|2017||Survivor's Remorse||Camille Jordan||3 Episodes|
|2018||Love Is||'Wiser' Angela||Episode: "(Her) Questions"|
|A Black Lady Sketch Show||Kiley's Mother Rita||Episode: "3rd & Bonaparte Is Always in the Shade"|
|The Conners||Carrie Langham||Episode: "Smoking Penguins and Santa on Santa Action"|
|2019-2020||Black Monday||Ruth||2 Episodes|
|2021||Kenan||Bobbi||Episode: "Kenan's Mom"|
Awards and nominations
|1994||NAACP Image Award||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture||"What's Love Got to Do with It"||Nominated|
|1996||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||"Under One Roof"||Nominated|
|1997||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special||"America's Dream"||Nominated|
|1998||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||"Orleans"||Nominated|
|1999||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special||The Temptations||Nominated|
|2002||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||"Boston Public"||Nominated|
|2004||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||"The District"||Nominated|
|2011||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||"Hawthorne"||Nominated|
|2020||Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture||"Harriet"||Nominated|
- "Outstanding accomplishments: Ohio University's Greek community honors three alumni". ohiou.edu. Retrieved 2008-08-16.
- "Official biography". vanessabellcalloway.com. Archived from the original on 2011-04-12. Retrieved 2008-08-16.
- The Broadway League. "Vanessa Bell Callaway - IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 18 August 2015.
- "Vanessa Bell Calloway". The New York Times.
- "New Black Series Is Hanging On". The New York Times. 11 April 1995. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- Tambay A. Obenson (12 January 2016). "Bounce TV Enters Original Hour-Long Drama Series Programm - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
- Stephanie Stephens. "Vanessa Bell Calloway: First Lady of New Saints & Sinners Drama". Parade. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- Todd McCarthy (24 January 2016). "'Southside With You': Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- "'Harriet' Biopic: Vanessa Bell Calloway, Zackary Momoh, Vondie Curtis-Hall And Deborah Ayorinde Added To Cast". shadowandact.com.
- Kroll, Justin (August 13, 2019). "'Coming 2 America': Vanessa Bell Calloway to Reprise Original Role (EXCLUSIVE)".
- Bell Calloway, Vanessa; Parker, Najja (October 16, 2015). "In Her Words: Vanessa Bell Calloway Shares Her Breast Cancer Survival Story". Ebony. Retrieved November 1, 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- "Bet's 'Baldwin Hills' Returns With Fresh Faces and New Drama". lasentinel.net. 2008-07-10. Archived from the original on September 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-16.
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