Phylicia RashadRashad at the 2007 Red Dress Collection for The Heart Truth FoundationBornPhylicia Ayers-Allen
Phylicia Rashād (/fɪˈliːʃə rəˈʃɑːd/ fih-LEE-shə rə-SHAHD) (née Ayers-Allen; June 19, 1948) is an American actress, singer and stage director. She is known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show (1984–92), which earned her Emmy Award nominations in 1985 and 1986. She was dubbed "The Mother" of the black community at the 2010 NAACP Image Awards.
In 2004, Rashad became the first black actress to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, which she won for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. Her other Broadway credits include Into the Woods (1988), Jelly's Last Jam (1993), Gem of the Ocean (2004), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2008). She won a NAACP Image Award when she reprised her A Raisin in the Sun role in the 2008 television adaptation. She has also appeared in the films For Colored Girls (2010), Good Deeds (2012), and Creed (2015).Contents
Rashad was born Phylicia Ayers-Allen in Houston, Texas. Her mother, Vivian Ayers (born 1923), is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated artist, poet, playwright, scholar, and publisher. Phylicia's father, Andrew Arthur Allen, (1921–1984), was an orthodontist. Rashad's siblings are jazz-musician brother Tex (Andrew Arthur Allen, Jr., born 1945), sister Debbie Allen (born 1950), an actress, choreographer, and director, and brother Hugh Allen (a real estate banker in North Carolina). While Rashad was growing up, her family moved to Mexico, and as a result, Rashad speaks Spanish fluently.
Rashad studied at Howard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1970 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She was initiated into the Alpha Chapter during her tenure at Howard University.Theatre
Rashad first became known for her stage work with a string of Broadway credits, including Deena Jones in Dreamgirls (she was Sheryl Lee Ralph's understudy until leaving the show in 1982 after being passed over as Ralph's full-time replacement) and playing a Munchkin in The Wiz for three and a half years. In 1978, she released the album Josephine Superstar, a disco concept album telling the life story of Josephine Baker. The album was mainly written and produced by Jacques Morali and Rashad's second husband Victor Willis, original lead singer and lyricist of the Village People. She met Willis while they were both cast in The Wiz.
Other Broadway credits include August: Osage County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gem of the Ocean, Raisin in the Sun (2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play/Drama Desk Award), Blue, Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, and Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death. Off-Broadway credits include Lincoln Center’s productions of Cymbeline and Bernarda Alba; Helen, The Story and Everybody's Ruby at the Public Theater; The Negro Ensemble Company productions of Puppet Play, Zooman and the Sign, Sons and Fathers of Sons, In an Upstate Motel, Weep Not For Me, and The Great Mac Daddy; Lincoln Center's production of Ed Bullins' The Duplex; and The Sirens at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In regional theatre, she performed as Euripides' Medea and in Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Other regional theatres at which she has performed are the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and the Huntington Theatre in Boston.
Rashad was the first black actress of any nationality to win the Best Actress (Play) Tony Award, which she won for her 2004 performance as Lena Younger in a revival of the play A Raisin in the Sun by playwright Lorraine Hansberry. She was nominated for the same award the following year, for Gem of the Ocean. Several Black women have won in the Best Actress (Musical) category, including the late Virginia Capers, who won in 1973 for her portrayal of Lena in the musical adaptation of Hansberry's play, entitled Raisin. Rashad also won the 2004 Drama Desk award for Best Actress in a Play for A Raisin in the Sun by tying (split award) with Viola Davis for the play Intimate Apparel.
In 2007, Rashad made her directorial debut with the Seattle Repertory Theatre's production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. More recently, in early 2014 Rashad directed a revival of Fences, also by Wilson, at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey, which ran to generally positive reviews, and continued an ongoing focus on Wilson's work, including a well-received production of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom that she directed at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in late 2016.
In 2008, Rashad starred on Broadway as Big Mama in an all African-American production of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof directed by her sister Debbie Allen. She appeared alongside stage veterans James Earl Jones (Big Daddy) and Anika Noni Rose (Maggie), as well as film actor Terence Howard, who made his Broadway debut as Brick. In 2009, she appeared as Violet Weston, the drug-addicted matriarch of Tracy Lett's award-winning play August: Osage County at the Music Box Theatre.
From March 17 to May 1, 2016, Rashad played the lead role of Shelah in Tarell Alvin McCraney's play Head of Passes at The Public Theater. Her performance was positively reviewed.Film and television
Rashad received a career boost when she joined the cast of the ABC soap opera One Life to Live to play publicist Courtney Wright in 1983. She is best known for the role of attorney Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. The show, which ran from 1984 to 1992, starred Bill Cosby as obstetrician Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable, and focused on their life with their five children. In 1985, Rashad co-hosted the NBC telecast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with Pat Sajak and Bert Convy.
When Cosby returned to TV comedy in 1996 with CBS's Cosby, he called Rashad to play Ruth Lucas, his character's wife. The pilot episode had been shot with Telma Hopkins, but Cosby then fired the executive producer and replaced Hopkins with Rashad. The sitcom ran from 1996 to 2000. That year, Cosby asked Rashad to work on his animated television series Little Bill, in which the actress voiced Bill's mother, Brenda, until the show's end in 2004. She also played a role in the pre-show of the Dinosaur ride at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park as Dr. Helen Marsh, the head of the Dino Institute.
Rashad played "Kill Moves" wealthy mother on Everybody Hates Chris on December 9, 2007. In 2007 she appeared as Winnie Guster in the Psych episode Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy. She returned to the role in 2008, in the episode Christmas Joy.
In February 2008, Rashad portrayed Lena Younger in the television film adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, directed by Kenny Leon. Starring core members of the cast of the 2004 Broadway revival at the Royale Theatre of Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play, including Audra McDonald as Ruth Younger, and Sean Combs as Walter Lee Younger. The television film adaption debuted at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast by ABC on February 25, 2008. According to Nielsen Media Research, the program was watched by 12.7 million viewers and ranked #9 in the ratings for the week ending March 2, 2008.
In November 2010, Rashad featured as Gilda in the ensemble cast in the Tyler Perry film For Colored Girls, based on the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. Rashad explained in an interview with Vibe Movies & TV in 2010, that "I saw the original Broadway play. I thought it was amazing how such a story that wasn’t pretty was poetry. Usually poetry is about lofty things and this was the poetry of speech and the movement of everyday people. I found a little bit of it off-putting to tell you the truth, because it was so angry when I saw it. And I think Tyler Perry has added an element here that wasn't in the original stage production, and that is the necessity for taking responsibility for one's own self otherwise you are just living to die. That is where he wrote the line , "You gotta take some responsibility in this. Otherwise you are just living to die".
In 2012, she starred in another Tyler Perry movie Good Deeds. Also in 2012, Rashad played Clairee Belcher in the remake of Steel Magnolias (the role originated by Olympia Dukakis). This version has an all African American A-list cast, including Queen Latifah as M'Lynn, Jill Scott as Truvy, Condola Rashād as Shelby, Adepero Oduye as Annelle, and Alfre Woodard as Ouiser.
In 2016, Rashad was cast as a recurring guest star in the role of Diana DuBois in the third season of the Lee Daniels-produced Empire television series on Fox.
In 2017, Rashad portrayed Bishop Yvette A. Flunder, pastor of The City of Refuge Church in San Francisco, CA, as past of the Dustin Lance Black mini-series When We Rise. Her appearance in show highlighted the compassion of the church, the commitment of its leadership and the loving home the church provides to minister in the tough, primarily African-American community in San Francisco.Personal life
Rashad's first marriage, in 1972, was to dentist William Lancelot Bowles, Jr. They had one son, William Lancelot Bowles III, who was born the following year. The marriage ended in 1975. Rashad then married Victor Willis (original lead singer of the Village People, whom she met during the run of The Wiz) in 1978. Their divorce was finalized in 1982.
She married former NFL wide receiver and sportscaster Ahmad Rashād on December 14, 1985. It was a third marriage for both of them and she took his last name. They were married after he proposed to her during a pregame show for a nationally televised Thanksgiving Day football game between the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions on November 28, 1985. Their daughter, Condola Phyleia Rashād, was born on December 11, 1986 in New York. The couple divorced in early 2001.Filmography Film Year Title Role Notes 1995 Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored Ma Ponk 1999 Loving Jezebel Alice Melville 2010 Just Wright Ella McKnight 2010 Frankie and Alice Edna 2010 For Colored Girls Gilda 2012 Good Deeds Wililemma 2013 Gods Behaving Badly Demeter 2015 Emily & Tim Emily Hanratty 2015 Creed Mary Anne Creed Replaced Sylvia Meals in the role 2018 Creed II Mary Anne Creed Television Year Title Role Notes 1976 Delvecchio Ventita Ray Episode: "Wax Job" 1983–84 One Life to Live Courtney Wright Regular role 1984–92 The Cosby Show Clair Hanks Huxtable 193 episodes 1985 Santa Barbara Felicia Dalton 3 episodes 1985 The Love Boat Lonette Becker Episode: "A Day in Port" 1987 Uncle Tom's Cabin Eliza Movie 1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Herself Movie 1988–90 A Different World Clair Hanks Huxtable 4 episodes 1989 False Witness Lynne Jacobi Movie 1989 Polly Aunt Polly Movie 1990 Reading Rainbow Herself Episode: "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters" 1990 Polly: Comin' Home! Aunt Polly Movie 1990 The Earth Day Special Clair Hanks Huxtable Special 1991 Jailbirds Janice Grant Movie 1991 Blossom Blossom's Dream Mom Episode: "Blossom's Blossom" 1993 American Playhouse Mayor Turner Episode: "Hallelujah" 1994 David's Mother Gladys Johnson Movie 1994 Ghostwriter Herself Episode: "A Crime of Two Cities" 1994–2002 Touched by an Angel Elizabeth Jessup 2 episodes 1995 The Possession of Michael D Dr. Marion Hale Movie 1995 In the House Rowena Episode: "Sister Act" 1996 The Babysitter's Seduction Detective Kate Jacobs Movie 1996–2000 Cosby Ruth Lucas 93 episodes 1998 Intimate Portrait Herself/Narrator 4 episodes 1999 Free of Eden Desiree Movie 2000 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Lady Fulten (voice) Episode: "The Princess and the Pauper" 2001 Murder, She Wrote: The Last Free Man Cassandra Hawkins Movie 2001 The Old Settler Elizabeth Movie 1999–2004 Little Bill Brenda (voice) Main role (21 episodes) 2007 Working in the Theatre Actor Episode: "August Wilson's Legacy" 2007 Everybody Hates Chris Kathleen Devereaux Episode: "Everybody Hates Kwanzaa" 2007–14 Psych Winnie Guster 3 episodes 2008 A Raisin in the Sun Lena Younger Movie 2008 The Life & Times of Tim The Boss's Wife (voice) Episode: "Theo Strikes Back/Amy Gets Wasted" 2012–13 The Cleveland Show Dee Dee Tubbs (voice) 4 episodes 2012 Steel Magnolias Clairee Movie 2013 Do No Harm Dr. Vanessa Young Supporting role (all 13 episodes) 2014 Sofia the First Glacia the Ice Witch (voice) Episode: "Winter's Gift" 2016–17 Empire Diana DuBois 14 episodes 2017 When We Rise Bishop Yvette A. Flunder 2 episodes 2017 Tour de Pharmacy Victoria Young Movie 2017 Jean-Claude Van Johnson Jane 5 episodes Awards and honors This section of a biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. (January 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) Year Association Category Work Result 1985 Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Cosby Show Nominated 1986 Nominated 1988 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Won 1989 Won 1997 Cosby Won 1998 Nominated 1999 Satellite Awards Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated 2002 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special The Old Settler Nominated 2004 Tony Awards Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play A Raisin in the Sun Won 2005 Gem of the Ocean Nominated 2008 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie A Raisin in the Sun Nominated 2009 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Won Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated 2011 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress For Colored Girls Won NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated 2015 The BET Honors Theatrical Arts Award N/A (Honoree) Won