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Lynn Whitfield

Lynn Whitfield

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Also Known As: Lynn Butler-Smith Died:
Born: May 6, 1953 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Scion of an achievement-oriented Baton Rouge clan with roots in southern black aristocracy, toothsome, energetic leading lady Lynn Whitfield first watched the likes of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Bette Davis in "All About Eve" from the vantage of her grandmother's lap, attired in mink-trimmed frocks and seeing no reason she could not some day play those same types of roles. After gaining attention on the stage as one of the young women of color who people Ntozake Shange's poetic panorama of the black female experience, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf", Whitfield began appearing in supporting roles in such films as "Doctor Detroit" (1982) and "Silverado" (1985) but did not achieve real success until starring in television films ("The George McKenna Story", "Johnnie Mae Gibson: FBI", both CBS 1986) and miniseries (the acclaimed "The Women of Brewster Place" ABC 1989).

Scion of an achievement-oriented Baton Rouge clan with roots in southern black aristocracy, toothsome, energetic leading lady Lynn Whitfield first watched the likes of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Bette Davis in "All About Eve" from the vantage of her grandmother's lap, attired in mink-trimmed frocks and seeing no reason she could not some day play those same types of roles. After gaining attention on the stage as one of the young women of color who people Ntozake Shange's poetic panorama of the black female experience, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf", Whitfield began appearing in supporting roles in such films as "Doctor Detroit" (1982) and "Silverado" (1985) but did not achieve real success until starring in television films ("The George McKenna Story", "Johnnie Mae Gibson: FBI", both CBS 1986) and miniseries (the acclaimed "The Women of Brewster Place" ABC 1989).

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 King's Faith (2013)
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 Somebody's Child (2012)
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9.
 The Women (2008)
10.
 Madea's Family Reunion (2006) Cast
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Performed with the Black Repertory Company in Washington, DC; also did stage work in New York City before moving to Los Angeles
:
Co-starred in the Los Angeles, London and Australian companies of Ntozake Shange's play, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf"
1979:
Began her film career under a talent development program at Columbia Pictures
1982:
Made feature film debut in "Doctor Detroit"
1983:
Appeared in PBS TV adaptation of "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf"
1985:
Gained valuable experiece as Rae in "Silverado"
1986:
Starred as the title character in "Johnnie Mae Gibson: FBI", a CBS movie based on the real life story of the first black female undercover agent for the FBI
1987:
Appeared in the forgettable "Jaws the Revenge"
1988:
Played Dr. Cory Banks on the ABC medical drama series, "HeartBeat"
1989:
Portrayed Ciel in the ABC miniseries, "The Women of Brewster Place"; first association with executive producer Oprah Winfrey
1991:
Played recurring role of television news anchorwoman Maggie Mayfield on ABC's primetime serial courtroom drama, "Equal Justice"
1991:
Won an Emmy portraying the title character of "The Josephine Baker Story", produced for cable by HBO
1992:
Starred in CBS movie "Stompin' at the Savoy"
1994:
Acted opposite Bill Cosby in NBC's "The Cosby Mysteries", both the movie and the series that followed
1996:
High-profile role as victim turned villainess in Martin Lawrence's "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" scored a hit with her fans (if not the critics)
1996:
Appeared as Sophie in "Sophie and the Moon Hanger", a Lifetime TV-movie exploring the relationship of the wife of a KKK Wizard and her longtime black housekeeper
1996:
Reunited with Danny Glover from "Silverado" for "Gone Fishin'", a film that failed to live up to her expectations
1997:
Starred opposite Samuel L Jackson in "Eve's Bayou", playing the head of a prosperous black family in Louisiana
1998:
Aged from 19 to 47 as snobby Martha's Vineyard matron Corinne Coles in the ABC miniseries "The Wedding", executive produced by Oprah Winfrey
2002:
Had a recurring role as Paula Van Doran on "Without a Trace" (CBS)
2003:
Co-starred in Chris Rock's "Head of the State"
2003:
Played Galleria's mother, Dorethea in the Disney Channel Original Movie's "The Cheetah Girls" and "The Cheetah Girls 2"
2004:
Co-starred with Jamie Foxx in "Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story"
2006:
Cast in Tyler Perry's "Madea's Family Reunion"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Howard University: Washington , Washington D.C. - 1974

Notes

Whitfield has purchased the rights to Angela Davis' life story and plans to produce and star in a movie about the activist.

"Co-parenting in a divorced environment is rarely easy. I'm a child of divorce, so I was particularly concerned that the trickle-down effects I experienced as a child wouldn't affect her. Grace is the most important thing in my life, and probably the reason I didn't have a breakdown or try to numb myself with narcotics or alcohol after the [second] divorce. You can let that kind of thing turn you ugly, or you can find a place of peace. Grace helped me find the latter." --Lynn Whitfield quoted in NEW YORK POST, November 5, 1997

"I find it interesting that 'The Wedding' was one of the last books Jackie Kennedy edited at Doubleday. I think the Massachusettes society trophy-wife phenomenom was part of what attracted her to the story." --Whitfield to TV GUIDE, February 21, 1998

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Vantile Whitfield. Theater director, acting teacher. Born c. 1923; married c. 1974; divorced c. 1978.
husband:
Brian Gibson. Director. British-born c. 1945; married on June 30, 1990, five days after they completed work together on "The Josephine Baker Story", for which he also won an Emmy; separated in April 1992; divorced eight months later.
companion:
Kweisi Mfume. Former Congressman and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; former head of the NAACP; dated for two years; no longer together.

Family close complete family listing

grandmother:
Mrs Dennis Smith.
father:
Valerian Smith. Dentist, composer, conductor, playwright. Born c. 1926; died on November 18, 1992 in Baton Rouge, LA of cancer; founded the Baton Rouge Playhouse in 1952; worked on the musical scores of such films as "Band of Angels" (1957) and "Hurry Sundown" (1967) and composed such musical stage productions as "Supper", "Earl K Long", "Creole Baby" and "Tribulations"; moonlighted as a local talent scout and rounded up extras for location photography on "Hurry Sundown".
mother:
Jean Butler. Fashion coordinator. Serving as president of the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency as of 1995.
brother:
Valerian Butler-Smith II. Investment banker. Younger.
sister:
Kimberleigh Butler-Smith. Younger.
sister:
Shawne Langston. Younger.
daughter:
Grace Gibson. Born on August 2, 1991; father, Brian Gibson.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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