Pearson, Felicia 1980-

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Pearson, Felicia 1980-


Born May 18, 1980, in Baltimore, MD; adopted daughter of Levi (an electrician) and Cora (a social services worker) Pearson. Education: Attended Baltimore School of the Arts.


Home—Baltimore, MD.


Actor, social activist, rapper, and memoirist. Actor on HBO television series The Wire, 2004-08. Cofounder, Moving Mountains, Inc. (a youth group), Baltimore, MD.


(With David Ritz) Grace after Midnight (memoir), Grand Central Publishing (New York, NY), 2007.


Felicia Pearson is a memoirist, social activist, and actor best known for her role as "Snoop," a cold-hearted assassin and enforcer for a drug lord on the popular HBO series The Wire, a police drama set in the harsh streets of urban Baltimore, Maryland. Pearson and her fictional counterpart share the same name, and they also share the hardened wisdom, flexibility, and toughness that can only be gained by growing up immersed in the lifestyle of lethal city streets. In her memoir, Grace after Midnight, written with David Ritz, Pearson presents a "gripping story of overcoming obstacles in the face of great adversity and finding hope in the most unlikely place—television," observed interviewer Lynette R. Holloway in Ebony.

Though Pearson is now a well-regarded and well-known actor, her early life was horrifically difficult. Born in 1980, she came into the world as a three-pound premature baby, so affected by the drugs in her mother's system that she was cross-eyed. Both her parents were in jail at the time of her birth. As a newborn, she had to be fed with an eye dropper, and there was little hope that she would survive. Yet within her tiny frame, ravaged by the harshness of the real world even before taking her first independent breath, Pearson possessed a tremendous strength that impelled her to survive. Her survival instinct would be tested time and again as she grew up in Baltimore. Much of her early life was spent in the city's foster care system. Though there was hope that she might eventually be reunited with her mother, any such hope was finally extinguished when her mother literally stole the clothes from the young Pearson's body to sell for drug money.

Pearson became the foster child of Levi and Cora Pearson, a couple who treated her kindly and raised her as their own. Later, the Pearsons adopted her and gave her their family name. Despite the loving and attentive atmosphere of her home, Pearson still had to contend with the brutality of inner-city life, where violence and crime were commonplace. At the age of eight, Pearson was given the nickname "Snoop" by Arnold Loney, a man who would become an important father figure in her life. In the late 1980s, no one had yet heard of Snoop Doggy Dogg. Loney coined the name because Pearson reminded him of Snoopy, from the Peanuts comic strip, a character that was "sweet but sad."

As a youngster, Pearson realized that she liked girls more than boys, and she would later become openly lesbian. She learned how to fight and how to hold her own in a tough, violent environment. As a teenager, she was an active drug dealer with a squad of male assistants. In 1995, her life took a downward turn when she shot and killed another girl, fifteen-year-old Okia Toomer, in what Pearson said was self-defense when Toomer came at her with a baseball bat. As a result, at age fifteen, Pearson was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive eight-year terms in prison at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup.

Serving time in prison turned out to be another defining experience for Pearson. When she learned that Loney had been killed, she realized that she had to make some drastic changes. She earned her GED and became determined to turn her life around. She was released after five years for good behavior. However, Pearson found it difficult to find and maintain a job, especially after employers learned of her criminal background and stint in prison. Soon, she had returned to some old habits in order to survive, including drug dealing.

Pearson's most important life-altering break came in 2004 after a random meeting in a Baltimore nightclub. There, she was spotted by actor Michael K. Williams, who played the character of Omar on the hit TV show The Wire. In the petite, confident Pearson, Williams saw the perfect fit for a new character that was slated to debut on the show. He invited her to visit the set and arranged a meeting with the show's producers, and soon Pearson was signed to the dramatic role that would transform her yet again, which she played until The Wire wrapped its fifth and final season in 2008. Since then, Pearson has been exploring other dramatic roles, appearing in music videos and working on her rap music, and working to bring education, awareness, and inspiration to other inner-city kids in order to help them avoid the hard life she experienced.

Grace after Midnight covers all aspects of Pearson's life and her "remarkable odyssey from drug runner to Jessup state penitentiary inmate to breakout TV star," observed Margeaux Watson in Entertainment Weekly. Philadelphia Inquirer critic Ellen Gray concluded that "Pearson's an original, a voice that without The Wire might never have been heard." A Kirkus Reviews writer called Pearson's memoir a "captivating, brutally honest tale of a life that came perilously close to being a complete waste" and "a hard-luck tale that never asks for pity." A reviewer in Publishers Weekly named it a "powerful story of someone trying to find her way in a dark world."



(With David Ritz) Grace after Midnight (memoir), Grand Central Publishing (New York, NY), 2007.


Advocate, February 26, 2008, Michael Giltz, "Snoop Speaks: In the Midst of the Fifth and Final Season of the Wire, Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson Talks about Life on Set, Dealing Drugs, Dating ‘Miss Fine’ … Oh, and That Murder Rap," interview with Felicia Pearson, p. 48.

Baltimore Sun, January 25, 2008, Laura Vozzella, "Art Imitates Life Imitates Art," profile of Felicia Pearson.

Ebony, November 1, 2007, Lynette R. Holloway, interview with Felicia Pearson, p. 30.

Entertainment Weekly, November 2, 2007, Margeaux Watson, "Felicia's Journey," review of Grace after Midnight, p. 67.

Jet, December 10, 2007, Margena A. Christian, "Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson: From Prison to Performing Actress Sets It off on The Wire," profile of Felicia Pearson, p. 40.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2007, review of Grace after Midnight.

New York Times, October 21, 2006, Walter Dawkins, "An Actress's Hard Life Feeds Wire Character," profile of Felicia Pearson, p. 9.

Philadelphia Daily News, November 2, 2007, Ellen Gray, "‘Snoop’ Brought a Lot to Her Wire Role," profile of Felicia Pearson.

Publishers Weekly, September 17, 2007, review of Grace after Midnight, p. 44.

Washington Post, March 16, 2007, Teresa Wiltz, "The Role of Her Life," profile of Felicia Pearson, p. C1.

ONLINE, (July 16, 2008), review of Grace after Midnight.

Black Voices, (June 20, 2007), Felicia Pride, "Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson: I'm Not Making Excuses," profile of Felicia Pearson.

City Paper Online, (January 2, 2008), Jaye Hunnie, "The Real Life Snoop Recounts Her Life from Jail to the Small Screen," profile of Felicia Pearson.

Felicia Pearson MySpace Page, (July 16, 2008).

HBO Web site, (July 16, 2008), biography of Felicia Pearson., (February 25, 2008), "Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson is Black, Female, and Out in Hollywood," biography of Felicia Pearson.

Si Entertainment Web site, (January 24, 2008), Omar Mazariego "Felicia Pearson: Through the Wire," interview with Felicia Pearson.

T.C. Wright's Web Log, (November 14, 2007), profile of Felicia Pearson.

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Pearson, Felicia 1980-

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