Lynn Whitfield

  • Birth Name: Lynn Butler-Smith
  • Birth Place: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
  • Profession: Actor

Fast Facts

  • Father founded a community theater in Baton Rouge.
  • Third-generation graduate of Howard University and member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
  • Was a member of D.C. Black Repertory Company for three years, during which time she performed in stage productions of Owen's Song and Changes.
  • Starred in a national tour of Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Not Enuf opposite Alfre Woodard during the late 1970s.
  • Began acting in television series in the early 1980s, appearing in Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, Miami Vice and other popular shows.
  • Won the 1993 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her starring role in the HBO movie The Josephine Baker Story.
  • Participated in Essence magazine's empowerment panel alongside her daughter in 2015.


  • 1992, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
  • 1991, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special: Winner


  • Valerian Smith — Father
  • Vantile Whitfield — Ex-husband
  • Valerian Butler-Smith — Brother
  • Grace Gibson — Daughter
  • Jean Butler — Mother
  • Brian Gibson — Ex-husband


  • Attended Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States; Howard University, Washington, District of Columbia, United States (BFA, 1975)