Fast Facts

  • For 10 years, studied acting under Betty Bridges, mother of Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges.  
  • When she was 13 years old, she had a small role in a play called 227. A year later, she was cast in the role of Brenda Jenkins in the NBC sitcom version of the play.
  • In 1991, made film debut in the critically acclaimed Boyz n the Hood. This also marked the beginning of her work with director John Singleton. She would go on to appear in his films Poetic Justice (1993) and Higher Learning (1995).
  • In 2004, received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in Ray.
  • Has provided the voices for characters in the Cartoon Network series The Boondocks.


  • 2004, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 2016, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
  • 2016, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Nominee
  • 2016, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or A Movie: Winner
  • 2015, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or A Movie: Winner


  • Malcolm-Jamal Warner — Ex-significant Other
  • Ian Alexander Jr. — Son
  • Thomas King — Father
  • Gloria Jean King — Mother
  • Ian Alexander Sr. — Ex-husband
  • Reina King — Sister


  • Attended University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

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  • Birth Place: Los Angeles, CA
  • Profession: Actor

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