Mother Vivian Ayers is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet.
Debuted on Broadway as a Munchkin in the original 1975 production of The Wiz; remained a cast member for three years.
Released the album Josephine Superstar in 1978, a disco-themed telling of the life of black actress and performer Josephine Baker.
First TV role came in 1983 when she joined the cast of the ABC soap One Life to Live.
Married her third husband, sports commentator Ahmad Rashad, in 1985, after he memorably proposed to her on national TV during coverage of a Thanksgiving Day football game. O.J. Simpson served as best man.
Was the first black woman to win a Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun).
1986, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Nominee
1985, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Nominee
2004, Tony — Actress (Play): Winner
2008, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie: Nominee
1989, People's Choice Awards — Favorite Female TV Performer: Winner
2008, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nominee
2005, Tony — Actress (Play): Nominee
1985, People's Choice Awards — Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Program: Winner
William Lancelot Bowles III — Son
William Lancelot Bowles Jr. — Ex-husband
Ahmad Rashad — Ex-husband
Debbie Allen — Sister
Condola Phylea Rashad — Daughter
Vivian Ayers — Mother
Andrew Arthur Allen Jr. — Brother
Vivian Nixon — Niece
Victor Willis — Ex-husband
Andrew Arthur Allen — Father
Howard University, Washington, District of Columbia, United States (BFA in Theater, 1970)