Biography

While this talented actress has never truly risen to superstar status, she is an accomplished performer of stage and screen. She's played a host of diverse characters---doctor, detective, judge, junkie, teacher---yet she is consistently believable, her portrayals rooted in rich realism and radiating an intuitive humanity. Her prolific, decades-spanning career---which includes TV stints on St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues as well as a number of TV-movies and a wide array of theatrical films---has won her critical praise and numerous acting awards. A married mother of two, Woodard has maintained a low personal profile, even when she signed on to one of TV's hottest shows in 2005, Desperate Housewives. Although her turn as enigmatic Wisteria Lane denizen Betty Applewhite boosted her entertainment stature, she retired the role in 2006. She returned to the small screen in the Christian Slater espionage outing My Own Worst Enemy (2008), playing a spy-organization supervisor, and in the equally short-lived medical drama Three Rivers (2009). Off stage, Woodard champions various humanitarian causes, including raising awareness for global poverty and HIV/AIDS, and cofounding Artists for a New South Africa, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing democracy and equality in that country.

Fast Facts

  • The youngest of three children, she was a cheerleader in high school.
  • Breakthrough role came in the 1977 Los Angeles stage production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.
  • In 1978, made her TV debut in The Trial of the Moke, a Great Performances episode about the court-martial of Henry O. Flipper, the first black West Point graduate.
  • Also made her motion-picture debut in 1978 in Remember My Name, a complex drama about a blue-collar couple hounded by a mysterious stranger.
  • Played Lily Stoane in 1996's Star Trek: First Contact, a role that resulted in the creation of an action figure made in her likeness.
  • Cofounded Artists for a New South Africa in 1989. The nonprofit organization combats HIV/AIDS, helps orphaned children and advances civil rights in that country.
  • On her career boost as a result of playing mysterious Betty Applewhite in Desperate Housewives: "After 30 years as a performer, I figured I was on people's radar already, but noooo!" she told TV GUIDE in 2005. "Now people shout at me in the streets. 'Hey, Betty! What are you doing? You're a weird lady!'"

Awards

  • 1985, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Special: Nominee
  • 1995, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Winner
  • 2008, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Nominee
  • 2005, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Winner
  • 1997, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Winner
  • 2006, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Nominee
  • 1998, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Winner
  • 1995, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special: Nominee
  • 2011, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Nominee
  • 1993, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 2001, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
  • 1986, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Nominee
  • 1990, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special: Nominee
  • 1995, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 2006, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Nominee
  • 2013, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 2013, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Nominee
  • 2003, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Winner
  • 1998, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Nominee
  • 1987, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series: Winner
  • 1984, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Winner
  • 1996, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress for a Miniseries or a Special: Nominee
  • 2006, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Nominee
  • 1987, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special: Nominee
  • 1988, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series: Nominee
  • 2012, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nominee
  • 1997, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special: Winner
  • 1983, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee

Relationships

  • Mavis Spencer — Daughter
  • Duncan Spencer — Son
  • Roderick Spencer — Husband
  • Constance Woodard — Mother
  • Marion H. Woodard — Father

College

  • Boston University, Boston, MA (BFA in Theater, 1974)

Details

  • Birth Place: Tulsa, OK
  • Birthday: November 8, 1952, Scorpio
  • Profession: Actor, Producer
  • User Rating:4.36 out of 5 (97 ratings)
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