Biography

Best known for playing unapologetically mature, assertive, and intelligent adult women, African-American supporting actress Jenifer Lewis originally launched her career as a vocalist, singing in a church choir in Kinloch, MO. Lewis' passion (and gift) for singing carried her to the Great White Way, where she appeared in a number of sell-out Broadway musicals -- including Ain't Misbehavin' and Dreamgirls. She subsequently migrated to the West Coast for a string of appearances in TV programs such as Roc, A Different World, Murphy Brown, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Touched by an Angel, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and graduated to features in 1992. The films in which Lewis has appeared run the gamut of quality, from outstanding (What's Love Got to Do With It?, 1993) to satisfactory (Sister Act, 1992; The Preacher's Wife, 1996) to downright abominable (Frozen Assets, 1992); many, however, demonstrated her fine gifts. More recently, Lewis attained some much-deserved recognition (and ascended to higher than usual billing) with her multi-season portrayal of Lana Hawkins in the prime-time medical drama Strong Medicine (2000). ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi