Emayatzy Corinealdi

Emayatzy Corinealdi Headshot


Birth Date: January 14, 1980

Age: 43 years old

Birth Place: Fort Knox, Kentucky

A striking actress with a strong screen presence, Emayatzy Corinealdi went from bit parts in movies like "Beauty Shop" (2005) to land her own pilot, "Katrina" (2007), to larger roles on "The Young and the Restless" (CBS, 1973- ) and in "The Nanny Express" (Hallmark Channel, 2009). Working frequently in shorts and student films and carefully selecting her roles to build a long-lasting, respected career, Corinealdi's patience and talent were rewarded when she landed the starring role in Ava DuVernay's critically acclaimed drama "Middle of Nowhere" (2012). Playing a woman who puts her life and dreams on hold to support her incarcerated husband (Omari Hardwick) but discovers more about herself than she ever imagined, Corinealdi wowed critics with the complexity and depth of her portrayal, and earned considerable plaudits across the board. As ferociously talented as she was intelligent, Emayatzy Corinealdi inspired many critics and fans alike to hope that she would ascend to the professional ranks of her self-professed acting idols, Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.

Born in Fort Knox, KY, Emayatzy Corinealdi came by her striking first name when her Panamanian father wanted to name her after a princess from his home country, Ematy, and her mother wanted to name her Brandy, after her own mother. Their compromise and Corinealdi's world-traveled upbringing as an Army brat helped give her an exotic flair and self-composure that helped give her the strength to tackle the entertainment industry. Determined to build a career in the vein of her acting idols Meryl Streep or Denzel Washington, Corinealdi eschewed early advice from managers to change or drop her unique moniker and garnered valuable professional experience working in student films and attending classes at the William Esper Studio, Actor's Training Studio and the Playhouse West.

Eagle-eyed viewers caught her in small roles in projects like "Vampz" (2004) and "Beauty Shop" (2005) and she landed the starring role in a pilot, "Katrina" (2007) that never made it to series. Still, the actress persevered, landing a recurring role on "The Young and the Restless" (CBS, 1973- ) and a supporting role in the charming family telefilm "The Nanny Express" (Hallmark Channel, 2009). Achieving a reputation as a gifted actress in a string of indies and shorts, including "Akira's Hip Hop Shop" (2007), "Cordially Invited" (2007), "Think Twice" (2009) and "After the Storm" (2009), Corinealdi booked a guest spot on the Alyssa Milano sitcom "Romantically Challenged" (ABC, 2010) and a lead on the BET pilot "Gun Hill" opposite Larenz Tate.

Her breakthrough came when she landed the lead role of Ruby, a nurse who gives up her dreams of medical school to support her incarcerated husband (Omari Hardwick) in Ava DuVernay's powerful, Sundance Film Festival Award-winning "Middle of Nowhere" (2012). An intelligent, complicated woman who encounters both support and resistance for her chosen path by her sister (Edwina Findley) and mother (Lorraine Toussaint) while also realizing her marriage might not be as strong as she thought, Corinealdi's Ruby proved one of recent memory's most fascinating and complex onscreen characters, and a revolutionary step forward for both the portrayal of women and African-Americans on film. Telling the all-too-often overlooked story of the spouses, friends and family members affected by a loved one's incarceration, "Middle of Nowhere" dazzled critics, who praised Corinealdi for nailing such a difficult role, which frequently required her to convey oceans of conflicting emotion with little to no dialogue.

By Jonathan Riggs

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Emayatzy Corinealdi