Lynn Whitfield

Lynn Whitfield Headshot

Actress

Birth Date: May 6, 1953

Age: 71 years old

Birth Place: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Scion of an achievement-oriented Baton Rouge clan with roots in southern black aristocracy, toothsome, energetic leading lady Lynn Whitfield first watched the likes of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Bette Davis in "All About Eve" from the vantage of her grandmother's lap, attired in mink-trimmed frocks and seeing no reason she could not some day play those same types of roles. After gaining attention on the stage as one of the young women of color in Ntozake Shange's poetic panorama of the black female experience, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf," Whitfield began appearing in supporting roles in such films as "Doctor Detroit" (1982) and "Silverado" (1985) but did not achieve real success until starring in television films ("The George McKenna Story," "Johnnie Mae Gibson: FBI," both CBS 1986) and miniseries (the acclaimed "The Women of Brewster Place" ABC 1989). Whitfield vaulted to international attention in the title role of "The Josephine Baker Story" (1991), the HBO biopic requiring her to age from 18 to 68 to portray the Follies Bergere star turned Resistance and civil rights fighter. In a highly-publicized search that rivaled that of the hunt for Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind," she beat out more than 500 women considered world-wide for the role and won an Emmy, achieving "the greatest sense of accomplishment and realization of my vision. It absolutely called upon everything I thought I could do at that point." Her triumph as Baker, however, proved both a blessing and a curse as she became so closely identified with the Jazz Age legend that other opportunities were slow to come along. Whitfield had worked as a regular in two ABC series ("Heartbreak" and "Equal Justice") prior to playing Baker, and the dearth of good offers encouraged her to return to the small screen opposite Bill Cosby in "The Cosby Mysteries" (NBC, 1994-95). Gradually, the parts started coming her way again, and though critical response to such vehicles as "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" and "Gone Fishin'" (both 1996) was tepid, these features increased her exposure. Whitfield roared back into the winner's column with "Eve's Bayou" (1997), her part as head of a prosperous, socially prominent black family in Louisiana drawing heavily on her blue-blooded Baton Rouge upbringing. She returned to a similar milieu as snobby Martha's Vineyard matron Corinne Coles in the ABC miniseries "The Wedding" (1998), executive produced by Oprah Winfrey, who had also executive produced the earlier "The Women of Brewster Place." Certainly, these last two roles, along with that of Josephine Baker, are the kinds of parts Whitfield envisioned for herself as that little Louisiana princess so many years ago.

Credits

The Retirement PlanStream

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60%

My Other Mother

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2022

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2022

Fantasy IslandStream

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Judy
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62%

Get Into It With Tami Roman

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2021

Vacation FriendsStream

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2021
57%

Tales From the Hood 3Stream

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Marie Benoit
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2020

Tamron HallStream

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2019

Today 3rd Hour

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2018

The ResidentStream

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Josephine Okeke
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2018

Nappily Ever AfterStream

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Paulette Jones
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2018
67%

Sister Circle

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2017

Pickler & Ben

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2017

STEVE on Watch

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2017

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World

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2017

Solace

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Irene
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2017

Espionage Tonight

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2017

The Preachers

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2016

GreenleafStream

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Lady Mae Greenleaf
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2016

Greenleaf: Extras

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2016

Prayer Never Fails

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Curveball

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Dr. Layne
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2015

Hollywood Today Live

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2014

Chasing LifeStream

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Karen Callahan
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2014

The North Star

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Miss Grace
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2014

My Other Mother

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Mary Jo
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2014

The Fright Night Files

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2014

30 Days in Atlanta

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2014

The Real

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2013

MistressesStream

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Fatal Attraction

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2013

Fatal Attraction

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2013

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2013

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2013

Lonely Boy

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2013

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Dr. Christine Nolan
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2013

24 Hour Love

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Cynthia
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2013

King's Faith

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Steve Harvey

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2012

The Last LetterStream

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2012

The Trace

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Vivian
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2012

Battlefield America

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2012

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Francine
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2012

The Redemption of a Dog

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Somebody's Child

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2012

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2011

Things Fall Apart

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2011

Access Hollywood Live

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2010

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FlashForwardStream

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Anastasia Markham
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The Wendy Williams Show

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2008

The WomenStream

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Glenda Hill
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2008
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The Better Show

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2007

Kings of the Evening

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Grace Marigold
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2007

Our World With Black Enterprise

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2006

SharkStream

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2006
52%

Tyler Perry's Madea's Family ReunionStream

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26%

Confessions of a Call Girl

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Dr. Page
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2006

Redemption

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Barbara Becnel
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2004

Head of StateStream

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Debra Lassiter
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2003
30%

The Cheetah GirlsStream

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Dorothea
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2003
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Without a TraceStream

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2002

A Girl Thing

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Nia Morgan
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2001

Boston Public

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2000

Strong MedicineStream

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2000

Elizabeti's Doll

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2000

A Time for Dancing

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Linda Derricks
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2000

The Daily Show With Jon StewartStream

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1999

The Color of Courage

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Minnie McGhee
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1999

Dangerous Evidence: The Lori Jackson Story

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1999

Love Songs

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1999

Deep in My Heart

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Corrine Burrell
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1999

The Wedding

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Corinne Coles
Show
1998

StepmomStream

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Dr. P. Sweikert
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1998
44%

The View

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1997

Gone Fishin'

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Angie
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1997

Eve's BayouStream

Actor
Roz Batiste
Movie
1997
83%

The Planet of Junior Brown

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Mrs. Brown
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1997

Sophie and the Moonhanger

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Sophie
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1996

A Thin Line Between Love and HateStream

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Brandi Web
Movie
1996
15%

Touched by an AngelStream

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1994

The Cosby Mysteries

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1994

Los Misterios de Cosby

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1994

Bill Cosby

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1994

State of Emergency

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1994

The Cosby Mysteries

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1994

Thicker Than Blood: The Larry McLinden Story

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1994

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Taking the Heat

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1993

MartinStream

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1992

Manhattan Savoy

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1992

Stompin' at the Savoy

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1992

The Josephine Baker Story

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Movie
1991

A Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story

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1991

HeartBeat

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1988

Jaws: The RevengeStream

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Louisa
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1987
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Mace

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Sheila Freeman
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1987

MatlockStream

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1986

La Historia de Johnnie Gibson

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1986

The Johnnie Gibson Story

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Johnnie Mae Gibson
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1986

Johnnie Mae Gibson

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1986

The George McKenna Story

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1986

L'Histoire de Johnnie Gibson

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1986

Johnnie Mae Gibson: FBI

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Johnnie Mae Gibson
Movie
1986

SilveradoStream

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Rae Johnson
Movie
1985
78%

Miami ViceStream

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Odette Ribaud
Series
1984
71%

Mike Hammer

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1984

Trauma Center

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Teri Baylor
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1983

Doctor Detroit

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Thelma Cleland
Movie
1983

The Fall GuyStream

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Series
1981

Hill Street BluesStream

Guest Star
Jill Thomas
Series
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97%

Good Morning America

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1975

News aboutLynn Whitfield