Devine, Loretta 1949-
Devine, Loretta 1949-
Born August 21, 1949, in Houston, TX; daughter of James (a laborer) and Eunice (a beautician; maiden name, O'Neal) Devine. Education: University of Houston, B.A., speech and drama education, 1971; Brandeis University, M.F.A., theatre arts, 1976; studied acting with Ed Koven and improvisation with Gary Austin. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Baptist.
Agent—Innovative Artists, 1505 Tenth St., Santa Monica, CA 90401. Manager—Essential Talent Management, 6565 Sunset Blvd., Suite 415, Los Angeles, CA 90028.
Actress, singer, and director. Appeared in advertisements. Julia C. Hester House, youth program director and activity coordinator, 1971-72, founder of Hester House Players and Hester House Dancers, 1971; Black Arts Center, Houston, TX, director of theater department, 1972-74; Ethnic Arts Center Players, founder, 1972-74; Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, instructor in English, 1974-76; Texas Southern University, instructor, summer, 1974; Harvard University, instructor, summers, 1975-76.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Citizen Advocates for Justice Award, 1984; Image Award nomination, best actress, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1988, Certificate of Recognition, Hollywood DramaLogue, 1988, and Hollywood DramaLogue Critics Award, best ensemble performance, 1989, all for The Colored Museum; Image Award, best actress, 1990, for Woman from the Town; San Diego Critics Circle Award nomination, best actress, 1990, for Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill; DramaLogue Award, acting, and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, best featured performance, both 1991, for The Rabbit Foot; Image Award, outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture, 1996, for Waiting to Exhale; Image Award, outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture, 1997, for The Preacher's Wife; Image Award nomination, outstanding performance in a youth or children's series/special, 1999, for One Day; Black Reel Award nomination, network/cable—best supporting actress, 2000, for Funny Valentines; Image Award nomination, outstanding actress in a television movie, miniseries, or dramatic special, 2001, for Freedom Song; Image Award nominations, outstanding supporting actress in a drama series, 2001 and 2002, Image awards, outstanding supporting actress in a drama series, 2003 and 2004, and Golden Satellite Award nominations, best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a series, drama, International Press Academy, 2003 and 2004, all for Boston Public; Image Award nomination, outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture, 2002, for Kingdom Come; Independent Spirit Award nomination, best supporting female, Independent Feature Project/West, and Image Award nomination, outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture, both 2005, for Woman Thou Art Loosed; Black Movie Award nomination, outstanding performance by an actress in a supporting role, 2005, and Black Reel Award (with others), best ensemble, 2006, both for Crash; Image Award nomination, outstanding actress in a television movie, miniseries, or dramatic special, 2007, for Life Is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story.
Dionne, Hair (musical; also known as Hair—Revival), Biltmore Theatre, New York City, 1977.
Gloria, Verandah, New Dramatists, New York City, 1977.
Title role, Karma, Richard Allen Center, New York City, 1977.
Minister, Godsong (musical), La Mama Etc., New York City, 1977.
Soloist, Langston Hughes, AMAS Repertory Theatre, New York City, 1977.
Soloist, Seasons Reasons, Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, New York City, 1977.
Loretta, Miss Truth, Apollo Theatre, New York City, 1978.
Ms. Dabney, Mahalia, Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, 1978.
Stan's lady and ensemble member, A Broadway Musical (musical), Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, Theatre of the Riverside Church, New York City, 1978.
Virtue, The Blacks, Richard Allen Center, 1978.
Bones, Circle in the Square, New York City, 1978.
Young Mary, Comin' Uptown (musical), Winter Garden Theatre, New York City, 1979.
Jewel, Lion and the Jewel, Lincoln Center, New York City, 1980.
Precious, Dementos, City Center, New York City, 1980.
Lorell Robinson, Dreamgirls (musical), Imperial Theatre, New York City, beginning 1981.
The Casting of Kevin Christian, Shepherd Street Art Gallery, 1983.
Mermaid, Gotta Getaway!, Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1984.
Janeen Earl-Taylor, Long Time Since Yesterday, Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, New Federal Theatre, New York City, 1985.
Lilly, Big Deal (musical), Broadway Theatre, New York City, 1986.
Lala, Wigs, and model, The Colored Museum, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theater, Susan Stein Shiva Theater, New York City, 1986-87, and produced elsewhere.
Cissy, Woman from the Town, 1990.
Delia, Spunk, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1990.
Hot Mikado (musical), c. 1990.
Charlesetta, East Texas Hot Links (one-act), The Met, Los Angeles, 1991.
Holly Day, The Rabbit Foot, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Los Angeles, 1991.
Soloist, Big Moments on Broadway, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House, Washington, DC, 1991.
Soloist, Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein Tribute, Embassy Theatre, 1991.
Charlesetta, East Texas Hot Links (one-act), New York Shakespeare Festival, Joseph Papp Public Theater, Anspacher Theater, New York City, 1994.
Also appeared in other productions, including A Midsummer Night's Dream.
El Majj Malik, Black Arts Center, Houston, TX, 1972.
Who's Got His Own, Black Arts Center, 1972.
Black Cycle, Black Arts Center, 1973.
The Warning: A Theme for Linda, Black Arts Center, 1973.
Black Girl, Black Arts Center, 1974.
Nigger's Still Your First Name, Black Arts Center, 1974.
Shoes, Black Arts Center, 1974.
Will, 20 West, 1981.
Ms. Benson (a schoolteacher), Anna to the Infinite Power (also known as Anna—voiman riivaama, Annas Geheimnis, and Salaperaeiset systerit), 1983.
Verna McLaughlin, Little Nikita (also known as The Sleepers, Espias sin identidad, Espios sem rosto, Kasvottomat vakoojat, Maly Nikita, Nikita, spie senza volto, O pequeno Nikita, and Spioner i familjen), Columbia, 1987.
Bertha, Stanley and Iris, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1988.
Diane, Sticky Fingers, Spectrafilm, 1988.
Blade's mother, Class Act (also known as Dos caraduras y un plan, Koko koulun rap-pari, and Uma dupla de classe), Warner Bros., 1991.
Nadine Biggs, Livin' Large! (also known as The Tapes of Dexter Jackson), Samuel Goldwyn, 1991.
Judy, Caged Fear (also known as Hotel Oklahoma, Innocent Young People, Jail Force, and Oklahoma Hotel), EAE, 1992.
Ula, Amos & Andrew (also known as Amos & Andrew—Zwei fast perfekte Chaoten, Amos es Andrew bilincsben, Amos et Andrew, Atrapen al ladron. Al blanco o al negro?, Companheiros a forca, Filarakia gia desimo, Kaikkien kidnappausten kingi, and Nao chame a policia!), Columbia, 1993.
Gloria Matthews, Waiting to Exhale (also known as Az igazira varva, Bir oh desem, Czekajac na milosc, Donne, Esperando un respiro, Falando de amor, 4 mulheres apaixonadas, Haalla Andan, Haku paeaellae, Ou sont les hommes?, Venus dans la vierge, and Warten auf Mr. Right), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1995.
Beverly, The Preacher's Wife (also known as Ask melegi, Dragoste de inger, Espirito do desejo, La femme du pasteur, La femme du predicateur, La mujer del predicador, Rakastuin enkeliin, Rendezvous mit einem Engel, and Uno sguardo dal cielo), Buena Vista, 1996.
Coco, Lover Girl (also known as Lover Girls), Bedford Entertainment, 1997.
Jackee, The Price of Kissing, Price of Kissing, 1997.
Pigfoot Mary, Hoodlum (also known as Gangster, Harlem, N.Y.C., Hoods, Hampones (Hoodlum), Homens perigosos, Kvodo Shel Gangster, Les seigneurs de Harlem, Os reis do sub-mundo, and Truand), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1997.
Reese Wilson, Urban Legend (also known as Mixed Culture, Rule, Urban Legends, Agada eronit, Duestere Legenden, Legende urbaine, Leggende metropolitane, Lenda urbana, Leyenda urbana, Leyendas urbanas, Mitos urbanos, Moerdande legender, Remsegek koenyve, Urban legend—kauhutarinoita, and Urbane legende), TriStar, 1998.
Sylvia Finkelstein, Love Kills (also known as Tappavat tunteet), Trident Releasing, 1998.
Voice of Raul's mother, Alyson's Closet (short film), Trackster Pictures, 1998.
Zenia, Down in the Delta (also known as Daroma La'Delta, Dem Laanga vaegen hem, Der Sommer, der alles veraenderte, Hem till Mississippi, Juuret Deltan sydaemessae, Juuret maalla, La reliquia, La vida en el sur, Loin d'ici, and Ressurreicao), Miramax, 1998.
Floria, The Breaks, Artisan Entertainment, 1999.
Michelle, Lillie, Universal, 1999.
Principal, Operation Splitsville, Cineville, Inc., 1999.
Flo the doorwoman, What Women Want (also known as Ce que femme veut, Ce que veulent les femmes, Ce-si doresc femeile?, Det kvinner vil ha, Do que as mulheres gostam, En que piensan las mujeres, Lo que ellas quieren, Mi kell a noenek?, Mitae nainen haluaa, O que as mulheres querem, Vad kvinnor vill ha, and Was Frauen wollen), Paramount, 2000.
Health counselor, Punks, e2 Filmworks, 2000.
Marguerite Slocumb, Kingdom Come (also known as El reino que se viene, Mejor en el cielo, Tjocka slaekten, Um ritual do barulho, Um ritual muito louco, and Venga il tuo regno), Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2000.
Reese Wilson, Urban Legends: Final Cut (also known as Rule 2, Urban Legend Final Cut, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Urban Legend 2, Urban Legend 2: The Final Cut, Duestere Legenden 2-Final Cut, Legendes urbaines: La suite, Legendes urbaines 2, Lendas urbanas 2, Lenda urbana 2, Leyendas urbanas: Corte final, Leyendas urbanas 2, Leyenda urbana 2, Mitos urbanos 2, Moerdande legender 2, Urban Legends—Kauhutarinoita 2, and Urban Legend 2: Coup de grace), Columbia, 2000.
Delores, Baby of the Family, DownSouth Filmworks, 2001.
Margaret Calgrove, I Am Sam (also known as A Nevem Sam, I Am Sam—A forca do amor, Ich bin Sam, Je suis Sam, Leccion de amor, Mi chiamo Sam, Mi nombre es Sam, Minae olen Sam, Sam je suis Sam, Uma licao de amor, and Yo soy Sam), New Line Cinema, 2001.
Herself, The Script (short film), 2002.
Cassey Jordan, Woman Thou Art Loosed, Magnolia Pictures, 2004.
Miss Gladys, King's Ransom, New Line Cinema, 2005.
Shaniqua Johnson, Crash (also known as Collision, L.A. Crash, Alto impacto, Crash—Alto impacto, Crash—Contatto fisico, Crash—No limite, Fatalna nesreca, Uetkoezesek, and Vidas cruzadas), Lions Fate Films, 2005.
Jazz singer, Dreamgirls (musical; also known as Drama, Devojke iz snova, Rueya kizlar, Sonadoras, and Sonadoras—Dreamgirls), DreamWorks, 2006.
Dolly, Cougar Club, Open Sky Entertainment, 2007.
Evelyn, Dirty Laundry, Codeblack Entertainment, 2007.
Ma Dear, This Christmas, Screen Gems, 2007.
Dr. Racine Marguerite, Spring Breakdown, Warner Bros., 2008.
First Sunday, Screen Gems, c. 2008.
Television Appearances; Series:
Stevie Rallen, A Different World, NBC, 1987-88.
Aunt Loretta Fontaine, Sugar and Spice, CBS, 1990.
Ellie, Simple Folks, CBS, beginning 1992.
Mo'Nique, UPN, 1999-2000.
Voice of Muriel Stubbs, The PJs (animated; also known as PJs: The Projects, Hausmeister Stubbs, and Les Stubbs), Fox, 1999-2000, The WB, 2000-2001.
Marla Hendricks, Boston Public, Fox, 2000-2005.
M. (Matilda) Pearl McGuire, Wild Card (also known as Zoe Busiek: Wild Card), Lifetime, 2004-2005.
Adele Webber, Grey's Anatomy (also known as Complications, Procedure, Surgeons, Under the Knife, and Grey's Anatomy—Die jungen Aerzte), ABC, 2005—.
Television Appearances; Miniseries:
Anne Maude Carter, The Murder of Mary Phagan, NBC, 1988.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Thelma, "Parent Trap III" (also known as "Ein Zwilling kommt selten allein," "Foeraeldrafaellan III," and "O novio das gemeas"), The Magical World of Disney (also known as Disneyland, Disneylandia, The Disney Sunday Movie, Disney's Wonderful World, Walt Disney, Walt Disney Presents, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, and The Wonderful World of Disney), NBC, 1989.
Irene, "The American Clock" (also known as "Arthur Miller's ‘The American Clock,’" "A maquina americana," "Die Stunde der Wahrheit," "El reloq americano," "Musta maanantai," and "O fim do sonho americano"), TNT Screenworks, TNT, 1993.
Nichols's secretary, The Hard Truth (also known as Golpe final, The Hard Truth—Gnadenlose Enthuellung, Mortelle verite, Uno sporco affare, and Voie sans issue), 1994.
Miss Mary, Rebound: The Legend of Earl the Goat Manigault (also known as Rebound and L'etoile de Harlem), HBO, 1996.
Everleen, Clover, 1997.
Dearie B., Funny Valentines (also known as En compania de Daerit B. and Minha nova vida), Black Entertainment Television, 1999.
Ruby Dandridge, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (also known as Face of an Angel), HBO, 1999.
Snookie Tate, Jackie's Back! (also known as Jackie's Back: Portrait of a Diva), Lifetime, 1999.
Connie Travers, Best Actress (also known as La mejor actriz), E! Entertainment Television, 2000.
Evelyn Walker, Freedom Song (also known as Freiheitsmarsch), TNT, 2000.
Interviewer, Book of Love (also known as Book of Love: The Definitive Reason Why Men Are Dogs), Black Entertainment Television, c. 2002.
Addie Collins, Life Is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story (also known as La historia de Fantasia Barrino), Lifetime, 2006.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Janine, "The Colored Museum," Great Performances, PBS, 1991.
One Day, 1998.
Judge, Iron Chef USA: Showdown in Las Vegas, UPN, 2001.
Herself, The Fourth Annual Soul Train Christmas Starfest, syndicated, 2001.
Presenter, Women Rock!, Lifetime, 2004.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
Presenter, The 39th Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1985.
Performer, The 42nd Annual Tony Awards, CBS, 1988.
The 27th Annual NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 1996.
Presenter, The 28th Annual NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 1997.
Presenter, The 30th Annual NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 1999.
The 2000 Essence Awards, Fox, 2000.
Presenter, The 33rd NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 2002.
Herself, The 34th NAACP Image Awards, Fox, 2003.
The 20th Annual IFP Independent Spirit Awards, Independent Film Channel and Bravo, 2005.
Cast presenter, The 2006 Black Movie Awards—A Celebration of Black Cinema: Past, Present & Future, TNT, 2006.
Presenter, The 2007 Film Independent Spirit Awards, Independent Film Channel, 2007.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Lyndia Cummings, "Court of Love," Amen, NBC, 1988.
Juror, "Marital Blitz," Cop Rock (musical), ABC, 1990.
Nurse Hawking, "The Bitch's Back," Murphy Brown, CBS, 1990.
Nurse Tilda Barclay, "The Wilding," Stat, Disney Channel, 1991.
Valerie Hall, "Hard Bargains," Reasonable Doubts, NBC, 1991.
Cynthia, "Rock Throws Joey Out," Roc (also known as Roc Live), Fox, 1992.
Cynthia, "You Don't Send Me No Flowers," Roc (also known as Roc Live), Fox, 1993.
June, "Salon, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, Goodbye," Family Album, CBS, 1993.
Marla Melrose, "Close Encounters," Picket Fences, CBS, 1995.
Mrs. Duncan, "Reality Check," Ned and Stacey, Fox, 1995.
Voice of mother, "The Golden Goose," Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (animated), HBO, 1995.
Tonya Hawkins, "Amazing Grace" (crossover episode with Touched by an Angel), Promised Land (also known as Home of the Brave), CBS, 1997.
Tonya Hawkins, "Amazing Grace" (crossover episode with Promised Land), Touched by an Angel, CBS, 1997.
Sean's mother, "Graduation," Clueless (also known as Clueless—Die wichtigen Dinge des Lebens, Clueless—Huolettomat, and Ni idea!), UPN, 1999.
Steph, "It Takes Two," Moesha, UPN, 1999.
Gloria Rivers, "Playing God," Family Law, CBS, 2000.
Nora Mills, "I Will Survive," Ally McBeal, Fox, 2000.
Herself, Intimate Portrait: Lela Rochon, Lifetime, 2001.
Cherisse, "Positive," Strong Medicine, Lifetime, 2002.
Herself, Headliners & Legends: Denzel Washington, MSNBC, 2002.
Erika, "The Big Phat Mouth Episode: Parts 1 & 2," Half & Half, UPN, 2003.
Herself, Pyramid, syndicated, 2003.
Judge Vashti Jackson, "Trial and Errors," Girlfriends, UPN, 2005.
Missouri Moseley, "Home," Supernatural (also known as Sobrenatural), The WB, 2005.
Herself, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (also known as The Late Late Show), CBS, 2005.
Judge Vashti Jackson, "Ain't Nothing over There," Girlfriends, UPN, 2006.
Judge Vashti Jackson, "Party over Here," Girlfriends, UPN, 2006.
Herself, "The Making of ‘Dreamgirls,’" HBO First Look, HBO, 2006.
Maxine (Chris's grandmother), "Everybody Hates Funerals, " Everybody Hates Chris (also known as Alle hassen Chris and Todo el mundo odia a Chris), UPN, 2006.
Maxine (Chris's grandmother), "Everybody Hates Dirty Jokes," Everybody Hates Chris (also known as Alle hassen Chris and Todo el mundo odia a Chris), The CW, 2007.
Maxine (Chris's grandmother), "Everybody Hates Math," Everybody Hates Chris (also known as Alle hassen Chris and Todo el mundo odia a Chris), The CW, 2007.
Appeared in other programs, including an appearance as a cult leader in Linc's, Showtime; and an appearance as Crystal in Out All Night, NBC.
Television Appearances; Pilots:
Cheryl Kelly, "Sirens," CBS Summer Playhouse, CBS, 1987.
Stevie Rallen, A Different World, NBC, 1987.
Tonia Harris, Heart and Soul, ABC, 1989.
Aunt Charlotte, In the House, NBC, 1991.
Valerie Hall, Reasonable Doubts, NBC, 1991.
Patti, Eli Stone, ABC, 2007.
Appeared in other pilots, including an appearance as Rosie, Cold Shoulder, CBS; and in a pilot for The WB.
Albums; with Others:
Dreamgirls 1982 original Broadway cast recording), Decca, 1982.
Inspired by … The Bible Experience, the New Testament, Zondervan, 2006.
Inspired by … The Bible Experience, the Old Testament, Zondervan, 2007.
Inspired by … The Bible Experience, the complete Bible, Zondervan, 2007.
Ruben Studdard, "What If," c. 2004.
Some sources state that Devine wrote the unsold television pilot Managing the Hunks.
Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 24, Gale Group, 2000.
Essence, April, 2001, p. 75.
"Devine, Loretta 1949-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/devine-loretta-1949
"Devine, Loretta 1949-." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/devine-loretta-1949
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
Devine, Loretta 1953–
Loretta Devine 1953–
Soft-spoken, dreamy-eyed Loretta Devine is a big-boned beauty who is instrumental in changing the way African American females are viewed on stage, television, and screen. Ebony writer, Lisa Jones Townsel, includes Devine as one of the “beautiful big women who continue to make significant strides.” Although she debuted on Broadway in 1977 in “Hair” and tasted a large dose of success in 1982 with her role in the Broadway blockbuster “Dreamgirls,” De-vine was not a household word until 19 years after she first appeared on Broadway when her role in the movie “Waiting to Exhale” earned her the 1996 Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.” Diane Haithman, a writer for the Los Angeles Times confirms that “Devine, a theater, film, and television veteran is probably best known for her role as a sensible single mom Gloria in the 1995 movie “Waiting to Exhale,” or in Broadway’s “Dreamgirls” in the mid-1980s.”
Loretta Devine, daughter of laborer, James Devine and beautician, Eunice O’Neal Devine was born in Houston, Texas on August 21, 1953. She worked her way through Brandeis University. According to Haithman, “Devine, who comes from a ‘large, poor’ Houston family… is a graduate of the University of Houston” and “received her master’s degree in fine arts from Brandeis University, working as a teacher and a dorm supervisor to help pay for her studies.” Devine wasted no time launching her career.
In 1977, she landed the role of Dionne in the hit musical “Hair.” Four years and at least 14 stage productions later, Devine was cast as Lorell Robinson, in “Dreamgirls,” at the Imperial Theatre in New York City in 1981. Although some would consider “Dreamgirls” to be the play that launched Devine’s career, she attributes it to her performance in another play five years later. In an article written by Emory Holmes II for the Los Angeles Times , Devine says it was George C. Wolfe’s play, “The Colored Museum” in 1986, that “really did project her career into the next phase.” Holmes quotes Devine as saying, “I had just finished doing ‘Dreamgirls,’ and the talk of the town around New York was that there was this new show coming. I read the script and said ‘Oh my God, I will never get a chance to do this.’ But I auditioned for
At a Glance…
Born Loretta Devine, August 21, 1953, in Houston, TX. Education: BA, Speech/Drama Educ., Univ. of Houston, 1971; MFA, Theater Arts: Brandeis Univ., 1976; Studied acting with Ed Koven and Improvisation with Gary Austin.
Career: Julia C. Hester House, youth prog. dir. and activity coord., 1971–72; founder of Hester House Players and Hester House Dancers, 1971; Black Arts Center, Houston, dir. of theater dept., 1972–74; Ethnic Arts Center Players, founder, 1972–74; Instructor in English and Dorm Supervisor at Brandeis Univ, 1974–76; TX Southern Univ., instructor, 1974; Harvard Univ., instructor, 1975–76; worked in repertory theater, Rhode Island, 1977. Credits include, stage: Big Deal, and Dreamgirls; The Colored Museum, and Spunk; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Hot Mikado, East Texas Hot Links, The Rabbit’s Foot, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill .Television: Jackie’s Back! (1999), Funny Valentines (1999), “The Pjs” (1999), The Parkers (1999), Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999), Clover (1997), Rebound: The Legend of Earl “The Goat” Manigault(1996), The American Clock (1993), Reasonable Doubts (1991), “Sugar and Spice” (1990), Parent Trap III (1989), The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988), Murphy Brown (1988), “A Different World” (1987), The Colored Museum (1986) .Motion pictures: Operation Splitsville (1999), Book of Love (1999), Lillie (1999), Urban Legend (1998), Down in the Delta (1998), Love Kills (1998), Hoodlum (1997), Lover Girl (1997), The Price of Kissing (1997), The Preacher’s Wife (1996), Waiting to Exhale (1995), The Hard Truth (1994), Amos & Andrew (1993), Caged Fear (1992), Livin’ Large (1991), Little Nikita (1988).
Selected awards: Best Actress Award nomination, NAACP, 1988; Best Supporting Actress Award, NAACP, 1990; Image Award “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Waiting to Exhale), 1996.
Addresses: Agent —Writers and Artists; 11726 San Vicente #300; Los Angeles, CA 90049
the La La part, and I got it. I was so amazed, because La La is so broad and huge compared to what I thought my personality was at the time. My agents were so upset because I chose this, making absolutely no money, and I had no idea that it would be the sort of thing that pivoted my career from where I was into the next phase.” As a result of her performance in “The Colored Museum,” Devine told Holmes, “I got a chance to go to London. I got a chance to come out here to L.A. to do the play.” And from that I got my first pilot for television, ’Sugar & Spice.’”
Since that time, she has not only become a familiar face on stage, television, and in motion pictures, but she has also become a familiar voice. Diane Haithman describes Devine as having a “…breathy, little-girl voice that belies her statuesque physique.” Devine’s unmistakably identifiable voice got her the role of Muriel Stubbs, wife of Thurgood (voiced by Eddie Murphy) in Murphy’s controversial animated TV series, “The PJs” in 1999.
Loretta Devine’s success opened doors for African American actresses who previously may have felt they had to be pencil-thin and light-skinned to make a mark in Hollywood. In fact, the role that won Devine the “Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” was Gloria, in “Waiting to Exhale.” Devine actually “gained 30 pounds for the role of a woman who struggled with weight along with her relationships with men.” Says Haithman, who notes that Devine “has since lost” the 30 pounds. Traditionally, it was never the heavier set or darker-skinned woman who got the sexy roles, but when Gloria (Loretta Devine) says ‘good-bye’ and walks away from her new neighbor (handsome Gregory Hines) in a scene in “Waiting to Exhale,” she turns and notices he is watching her, then changes her walk to a sexy strut as she goes on her way. As noted in USA Today, Devine’s prize-winning role also demonstrated that a black woman can play a sexy role that is respectable. “Unlike three of the movie’s four principle characters, many (upscale black women) don’t flaunt their bodies, fornicate, or commit adultery.” The USA Today article goes on to say, “That’s why there was so much applause for Gloria, played nicely by Loretta Devine… who doesn’t sleep around and still ends up with heartthrob (Gregory) Hines.”
Ellen Futterman, Entertainment Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Devine believes the movie captures the essence of sisterhood regardless of race. Devine told Futterman, “The problems these women are dealing with are problems for a lot of women. How can I get all of these other things in my life right and still be so off when it comes to men? Unfortunately, the way our society is, it’s hard to feel total and complete if you’re a woman and you don’t have a man.” Devine, a single woman herself, lives in Culver City. According to Diane Haithman, in the 1998 Los Angeles Times article, Devine “maintains a long-distance relationship with a man who lives in Alabama.”
Jack E. White, of Time Australia, says he can “remember the 1950s, when blacks were so rarely on television that the mere sight of one was enough to produce pandemonium,” in his neighborhood. “’Colored on TV, ’ someone would shout from the front porch,” He said “all normal activity ceased as everybody within earshot rushed to the nearest set for a moment of electronic racial solidarity.” Devine was just a baby in diapers back then, but today black actresses continue to struggle to find decent roles and keep busy, even proven talent like Devine. There is no doubt that Devine is one of the most talented actresses of her time. She has won numerous awards for her performances, including the 1996 Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” for her performance in “Waiting to Exhale.” For the African American actress, unfortunately, winning awards does not guarantee adequate work. “Actresses perennially complain of lack of work,” says Bob Ivry of The Record “And the roles they do get usually fall into the girlfriend-wife-mother category, playing second fiddle to men. As bad as things are for women in general, for black women it’s downright scary.” Ivry goes on to say that except for “…three films from the ‘98 roster — ‘Beloved’ ‘Down in the Delta,’ and ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’… African American women weren’t even a blip on the big screen in 1998. Devine appeared in one of those three films, “Down in the Delta.”
Bob Ivry says that “for every Cuba Godding Jr. who goes from ‘Boyz N the Hood’ to an Oscar for ‘Jerry Maquire,’ there are a dozen talented black actors who can’t find enough work, especially women.” In fact, Ivry gives the example of Dorothy Dandridge who was “the first African American female to be nominated for a best actress Oscar…” Yet, tragically, Ivry goes on to say that Dandridge’s “life fell apart after she could no longer find enough work.” Another example is given by John Stark of People who says that the actress who rose to fame with her role as the maid, Prissy, in “Gone With the Wind,” Butterfly McQueen, “spent eight years in Hollywood, but returned to Harlem in the late 1940s after being discouraged by the roles she was offered.” Half a century later, veteran actress Leslie Uggams (starred in the award-winning TV mini-series “Roots”) who, according to Janice Gaston of The Tampa Tribune, “was nominated for an Emmy.” has a problem finding work. “Nowadays, she sings with symphonies.” Says Gaston, who quotes Uggams as saying, “acting roles are hard to come by.” Gatson goes on to say that “the declining number of black people on television disappoints 56 year-old Uggams” who “has been performing since she was six.”
One reason for the struggle to find work was given by actress Halle Berry, who played the leading role in the movie portraying the life story of singer, dancer, actress “Dorothy Dandridge.” Devine played the mother of Dorothy Dandridge in the movie. “The industry has a hard time considering us for roles unless the script says ’black woman,’ ‘black man’.” Ivry quotes Berry as saying. “If it just says ‘woman’ or ‘man,’ they don’t even think of us.” Berry goes on to say that her struggle is “to get them to think of us just as people, not always make us black people. We’re people first.”
The multi-talented Devine’s ability to perform on stage as well as on TV and in films cannot guarantee that she will always find suitable work, however, it does allow her more choices than many other African American actresses. This, along with her obvious love for the theater, is probably the reason Devine, after being featured on TV and in movies, has not abandoned the stage. According to Diane Haithman of the Los Angeles Times, Loretta Devine helped “Black Artists Network Development (BAND) make the big leap to producing its first play (‘Blues for an Alabama Sky’ by Pearl Cleage)”. Devine is very active in Los Angeles community theatre. In the article, Haithman noted that Devine “is dedicated … to nurturing a black theater company in Los Angeles.” Haithman quoted Devine as saying, “A black theater is important, because I think that’s what gives longevity to the careers of actors who go on and on— Samuel Jackson, Denzel Washington, all of those people came from very strong theater backgrounds.”
Sherri A. McGee of Essence writes that for Devine, “time away from daily demands is a ritual.” McGee quotes Devine as saying, “I have this small place in my house that serves as a meditation room.” McGee says Devine “retreats to her miniature haven for morning prayer, to write in her journal, and to pen poetry.” McGee goes on to say that “Devine also frees her mind by engaging in hobbies that are both meditative and creative,” and quotes Devine as saying, “I’m constantly painting the walls and fixing things up. I retiled my entire bathroom and hand-dyed my carpet.”
“…People think this is an easy career. There is a lot of fun, and there are a lot of rewards, but there are a lot of ups and downs to it.” Devine told Diane Haithman. Devine’s point is confirmed by one of her ’Waiting to Exhale’ co-stars, actress Lela Rochon, who told Ellen Futterman, she “went from a year and a half… of nothing to … having all these wonderful scripts and choices. As an actress, all you want are choices. As a black actress, you never have choices.” Another of Loretta Devine’s “Waiting to Exhale” co-stars, actress Angela Bassett, gives Ann Oldenburg and Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today one of the reasons for this. “We know the history that black women are not considered beautiful-they are considered sexual but not beautiful.” says Bassett, who makes the point that she “couldn’t wear … braids 10 years ago going up for the nurse on ’Loving.’ Not that it was a big thing,” continues Bassett, “but it would affect people. I would have to wear my hair straight. It’s only hair, and everybody’s different… we should applaud differences.”
The multi-talented Devine, who is also a writer, knows that more scripts written by black writers, will mean more work for black actresses. Devine is the author of “Managing the Hunks,” an unsold television pilot. “For a young person interested in… acting as a career,” Devine told Haithman, “I would advise them to try to become as well trained as possible, and to be as family oriented as possible, or have some emotional center … And get as much training as you can, this will help you make the choices and do whatever it is you want to do.” Devine continues to make wise choices which not only keep her career rising to new heights, but gives encouragement and sets examples for actresses who may fall victim to negative, stereotypical typecasting.
Ebony February 1997, p 162,
Essence, October 1999, p. 21.
Los Angeles Times, February 1, 1998, p. 46; May 2, 1999, pp. 75.
Newsday, The Marvin Kitman Show, January 11, 1999, pp. B23.
People, December 1, 1986, pp. 69.
The Record (Bergen County, NJ), September 20, 1998, pp. y0l; February 21, 1999, pp. y0l.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 22, 1995, pp. 01D.
Tampa Tribune, August 17, 1999, pp. 1.
Time Australia, January 15, 1996, p. 62.
USA Today, December 22, 1995; December 29, 1995.
"Devine, Loretta 1953–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/devine-loretta-1953
"Devine, Loretta 1953–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/devine-loretta-1953