Dawnn Lewis

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Dawnn Lewis
Dawnn Lewis in 2012.jpg
Lewis in 2012
Dawnn Jewel Lewis

(1961-08-13) August 13, 1961 (age 60)
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
Alma mater University of Miami (BM)
Years active1985–present
(m. 2004;div. 2006)
Awards1990, 1991, 1992 – BMI TV Music Award (A Different World)
Website dawnnlewis.com

Dawnn Jewel Lewis [1] [2] (born August 13, 1961) is an American actress. Lewis is best known for her role as Jaleesa Vinson–Taylor on the NBC television sitcom A Different World from the series beginning in 1987 until the end of its fifth season in 1992, in addition to being on the show; Lewis co–wrote the theme song.


Lewis's other notable roles include portraying Robin Dumars on the ABC sitcom Hangin' with Mr. Cooper [3] for its first season (1992–93) and as Cheryl Spade in the 1988 film I'm Gonna Git You Sucka . Since then, Lewis has appeared in numerous TV series, including other sitcoms, and has also performed on stage.

Early life and education

Dawnn Lewis was born on August 13, 1961 [4] [5] [6] in Brooklyn, New York City, to Carl and Joyce Lewis, who are of African-American and Guyanese descent, [7] She began singing at the age of four and acting at eleven. At sixteen, Lewis graduated from the High School of Music & Art in New York City, now known as Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. In college, she majored in musical theatre with a minor in journalism, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree, cum laude, from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, in 1982. [8]


The Tap Dance Kid National Tour (1985-1986)

From August 1, 1985 to July 6, 1986, Lewis performed and understudied in the National Tour of the Broadway musical The Tap Dance Kid under the name "Dawnn J. Lewis". [9]

A Different World (1987–1992)

Lewis appeared for the first five of the six-season run as Jaleesa Vinson (later Vinson–Taylor) from 1987 until 1992. Lewis co-wrote the theme song to A Different World , with Bill Cosby and Stu Gardner, and co-performed the song for the first season. In A Different World, Although her character was married to another of the main characters on the show, her character disappeared from A Different World without explanation, like Chuck Cunningham of Happy Days . Lewis appeared in a special week-long segment of A Different World called the Hillman College Reunion airing on Nick at Nite, along with Lisa Bonet, Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Darryl M. Bell, Cree Summer, and Sinbad. On her Super Password appearance in 1988, she was paired with Dallas star Ken Kercheval, not any of her co-stars.

Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (1992–1993)

In September 1992, Lewis began starring in ABC's Hangin' with Mr. Cooper alongside Mark Curry and Holly Robinson. Lewis appeared in 20 of the 22 episodes of the first season as Robin Dumars, Mark's childhood best friend and roommate. Lewis did not appear on the two shows concurrently – she left A Different World to star in Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. Lewis and Holly Robinson, along with R&B quartet En Vogue, performed the theme song for season one of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. Sometime before the end of season one, The show producers decided to scale back on the updated version of the 1970s ABC sitcom Three's Company concept. Lewis left the show after the conclusion of the first season due to the producers deciding to change the direction of the show, replacing her character with a mother and child; Mark's cousin Geneva Lee (portrayed by Saundra Quarterman) and her daughter Nicole (portrayed by Raven-Symoné). [10]

Other work

Dawnn Lewis receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Next Dimension University, an unaccredited Bible school, on August 17, 2019 Dawnn Lewis receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2019.jpg
Dawnn Lewis receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Next Dimension University, an unaccredited Bible school, on August 17, 2019

Lewis provided additional voices in the video game, True Crime: New York City . [11] She portrayed Deloris Van Cartier in Peter Schneider's Sister Act the Musical , which opened at the Pasadena Playhouse on October 24, 2006. Lewis has voiced Storm of the X-Men in three games, most recently Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 . She also voiced Granny Grim on The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy , and voiced the female Shokan (Sheeva) in Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm . Lewis has also done voice work as LaBarbara Conrad, wife of Hermes Conrad, in the animated TV series Futurama , Detective Terri Lee on Spider-Man:The Animated Series , villainess Di Archer on Bruno the Kid , and voiced a number of characters on The Boondocks . Additionally, she voiced the character Sharona on King of the Hill .

Lewis co-starred in two Disney Channel Original Movies, The Poof Point as Marigold Ballord, and as Gail DeBarge in Let It Shine . In 2000, Lewis played Blabberwort the Troll in the five-episode NBC miniseries The 10th Kingdom .


In 2006, Lewis starred as Melba Early in the film adaptation of Dreamgirls . Lewis released her debut CD, entitled Worth Waiting For, in 2006. She played Addaperle in The Wiz with New York City Center's Encores! In 2009, Lewis played Denise Fields on One Tree Hill . In 2010, Lewis played a minor recurring role as Lauren's mother in The Secret Life of the American Teenager . In 2012, she voiced Malora in Strange Frame . She also appeared as Dr. Knapp on Days of Our Lives in 2012–2013. In 2014 Lewis starred in The Divorce along with Vanessa Bell Calloway, Tatyana Ali & Freda Payne. As of 2015, Lewis is playing a recurring role on Major Crimes as Patrice, a love interest for Lt. Provenza, whom he met during a case. In that same year, she also voiced Ruby's mother Helen Hanshaw in one episode of Sofia The First .

In March 2016, Lewis was cast in Disney Junior's animated series Doc McStuffins as the voice of Grandma McStuffins. [12] In 2017 she provided the voice of Maybelle Mundy in the film Bunyan and Babe . In 2018 she began voicing Fannie Granger on DreamWorks’s Spirit Riding Free and Dr. Jones in Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters , while in 2019 began voicing The Chief on Netflix’s animated Carmen Sandiego . She voiced Attorney General’s special agent Lenora Carter in The Simpsons episode “The Fat Blue Line” in 2019.

On November 7, 2019 Lewis began portraying Zelma, Tina Turner's mother in Tina on Broadway and working under the name "Dr. Dawnn Lewis." [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

From August 2020 she stars as the voice of Captain Carol Freeman in the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks . [20]



1988 I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Cheryl Spade
1992Stompin' at the SavoyElla FitzgeraldTV Movie
1993Mouse SoupVoiceShort
A Cool Like That ChristmasJarvis (voice)TV Movie
1994Race to Freedom: The Underground RailroadMinnieTV Movie
1996Bruno the Kid: The Animated MovieDi Archer (voice)Video
The Cherokee Kid Stagecoach Mary, Love GangTV Movie
1997 Bad Day on the Block Officer Sandy Tierra
1999 The Wood Woman in Cleaners
The Poof Point Marigold BallardTV Movie
2002Endgame: Ethics and Values in AmericaAlisonTV Movie
2003 Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure Bessie / Female Judge (voice)Video
2006 The Adventures of Brer Rabbit Mom (voice)Video
Holly Hobbie and Friends: Christmas Wishes Carolyn Baker (voice)Video short
Dreamgirls Melba Early
2007Holly Hobbie and Friends: Secret AdventuresCarolyn Baker (voice)Video short
The Last SentinelAngel - Tallis' Rifle (voice)
Futurama: Bender's Big Score LaBarbara Conrad (voice)Video
Hell on EarthAmber / JesseTV Movie
2009 Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder LaBarbara Conrad / Womens' Prison Warden (voice)Video
2010 Preacher's Kid Mya
2011Billion Dollar FreshmenMelanieTV Movie
2012 Strange Frame: Love & Sax Malora (voice)
Let It Shine Gail DeBargeTV Movie
JenniferDr. FoxShort
Dino Time Additional Voices
2013Second ChancesMariaTV Movie
Monsters University Additional Voices
Toy Story of Terror! Delivery Lady (voice)TV Short
WHOA! Comedy ShortKate SterlingShort
WHOAKate Sterling
2014The DivorceYolanda MasseyTV Movie
Mom and Dad UndergradsDianeTV Movie
2015 Megachurch Murder Lucille Williams
Inside Out Additional Voices
Alone TogetherKatieShort
2017 Bunyan and Babe Maybelle Mundy (voice)
The Legend of Master LegendTanaTV Movie
Cycle 2017Robyn
2020CodependentNina JamesTV Movie
Be the LightGladys
Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal Chief (voice)Short
2021The Good, the Bart, and the LokiRavonna Renslayer (voice)Short


1990 Kid 'n Play Lela (voice)TV Series
1987-92 A Different World Jaleesa Vinson-TaylorMain Cast: Season 1-5
1992-93 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper Robin DumarsMain Cast: Season 1
1995 ABC Weekend Special Temba's SisterEpisode: "Jirimpimbira: An African Folk Tale"
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Princess Songe (voice)Episode: "The Valiant Little Tailor"
The Savage Dragon VoicesMain Cast: Season 1
1996 Dream On Rema Hort3 Episodes
The Faculty Mrs. LowmanEpisode: "Daisy's Secret"
C Bear and Jamal Grandma (voice)Recurring Cast
Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm Sheeva (voice)3 Episodes
1995-97 Spider-Man Detective Terri Lee (voice)13 Episodes
1996-97 Bruno the Kid Di Archer (voice)3 Episodes
1997 The Steve Harvey Show Alise PeytonEpisode: "Coming to Chicago"
Sliders Dr. Natalie SylviusEpisode: "The Breeder"
Die GangStella TumbrellEpisode: "Das Duell"
The Burning Zone Dr. Janice RhodesEpisode: "Elegy for a Dream"
Waynehead CheetahEpisode: "Rebel Without a Paw"
The Parent 'Hood BernadetteEpisode: "Father Wendell"
The Incredible Hulk Agent Diana (voice)Episode: "Mission: Incredible"
1997-99 King of the Hill Sharona Johnson (voice)2 Episodes
1998 The Secret Files of the Spy Dogs Additional Voices (voice)Episode: "Hair/Homework"
1999 The Jamie Foxx Show Dr. KanellaEpisode: "Scareder Than a Mug"
Nash Bridges Winifred HoltEpisode: "Resurrection"
Early Edition Gayle ClarkEpisode: "Number One with a Bullet"
1999-12 Futurama LaBarbara Conrad / Various Voices (voice)13 Episodes
2000 The 10th Kingdom Blabberwort the TrollMain Cast
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Mary (voice)Episode: "Panic on Bathyos"
2000-02 Any Day Now Gail WilliamsRecurring Cast: Season 3-4
2001 The Legend of Tarzan Naoh (voice)Episode: "Tarzan and the Eagle's Feather"
2001-02 Heavy Gear: The Animated Series Sonja Briggs (voice)8 Episodes
2002 Andy Richter Controls the Universe JackieEpisode: "We're All the Same, Only Different"
2002-07 Grim & Evil Various Voices3 Episodes
2003 Strong Medicine Detective WrightEpisode: "Risk"
Ozzy & Drix Cilia Tyson (voice)2 Episodes
Girlfriends Linda Dent2 Episodes
2004 Static Shock Brickhouse (voice)Episode: "Army of Darkness"
Medical Investigation Dr. BurtonEpisode: "Little Girl"
NYPD Blue Jocelyn BarkerEpisode: "The 3-H Club"
2005-14 The Boondocks Various Voices3 Episodes
2007 Handy Manny Tanya (voice)Episode: "Musica/Ice Cream Team"
2008-09 One Tree Hill Denise Fields3 Episodes
2008-12 The Life & Times of Tim The Boss' Wife (voice)3 Episodes
2009Nick Jr. IDsVoiceEpisode: "Pilot"
2009-10 Glenn Martin, DDS Nurse (voice)2 Episodes
2010 The Secret Life of the American Teenager Lauren's Mom4 Episodes
2010-12 The Cleveland Show Various Voices3 Episodes
2011 Reed Between the Lines TrishelleEpisode: "Let's Talk About College Boys"
2012 CSI: Miami Stacy McCannEpisode: "At Risk"
Breaking In Janet JenkinsEpisode: "The Blind Sided"
2012-13 Days of Our Lives Dr. Knapp5 Episodes
Regular Show Various Voices2 Episodes
2013 The Soul Man Erica2 Episodes
Turbo Fast Queen Bananica (voice)Episode: "African Queen/Mega Snails"
2014 Castle YvonneEpisode: "That '70s Show"
Survivor's Remorse Vanessa MillerEpisode: "How to Build a Brand"
Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories AgentEpisode: "The Endorsement"
2014-18 Major Crimes Patrice PerryRecurring Cast: Season 3-6
2015 Better Call Saul JudgeEpisode: "Hero"
Sofia the First Helen Hanshaw (voice)Episode: "Buttercup Amber"
2015-21 Rick and Morty Assimilated Alien #1 (voice)2 Episodes
2016 Kirby Buckets MayorEpisode: "Call of Doodie"
Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh Guppa (voice)Episode: "Wrinkly Humans People/Piggy Piggy"
2016-20 Doc McStuffins April McStuffins (voice)Recurring Cast
2017 Stitchers Arlene GrantEpisode: "Dreamland"
2017-21 The Simpsons Various Voices9 Episodes
2018 This Is Us Rosemary2 Episodes
iZombie Mama "Renegade" LeoneRecurring Cast: Season 4
Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters Dr. Jones (voice)Episode: "Rise of the Tech Men"
Bravest Warriors Jeanette (voice)4 Episodes
2018-19 Spirit Riding Free Fannie Granger (voice)2 Episodes
Apple & Onion Various Voices6 Episodes
2018-20 Curious George Mrs. Parker (voice)2 Episodes
2019 Veronica Mars Marcia LangdonStarring Cast: Season 4
Spirit Riding Free: Pony TalesFannie Granger (voice)Episode: "The Healing Tree"
2019-21 Carmen Sandiego Chief (voice)Main Cast
The Rich and the Ruthless BethMain Cast: Season 3-4
2020 Cleopatra in Space Professor Klabrax V (voice)2 Episodes
Spirit Riding Free: Riding AcademyFannie Granger (voice)2 Episodes
The Boys ValerieEpisode: "Nothing Like It in the World"
2020-21 Star Trek: Lower Decks Carol Freeman (voice)Main Cast
2021 9-1-1 DanversEpisode: "Survivors"
Duncanville Episode: "Crimes and Misters Demean Her"
HouseBroken Various Voices4 Episodes

Video Games

2003 Gladius Additional Voices
2004 World of Warcraft Additional Voices
2005 X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse Storm
2006 True Crime: New York City Additional Voices
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Storm
2007 Spider-Man 3 Additional Voices
2008 The Rise of the Argonauts Additional Voices
2009 Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 Storm
2017 Tacoma Evelyn Victoria St. James
2018 Fallout 76 Kesha McDermott / Mayor Barbara / Clara Davis
2020 World of Warcraft: Shadowlands Additional Voices

Album appearances

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  1. Who's who Among African Americans – Ashyia N. Henderson – Gale Group, 2000
  2. University of Miami Alumni Association. Annual Report. 2008-2009. University of Miami Alumni Association. 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2021
  3. "Dawnn Lewis, Holly Robinson And Mark Curry Star In "Hangin' Wit Mr. Cooper"". JET Magazine (Google Books). Johnson Publishing Company. November 2, 1992. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  4. Your Birthday Card – Dawnn Lewis
  5. Historical Dictionary of African-American Television – Dawnn Lewis (1961–) – Kathleen Fearn-Banks, Anne Burford-Johnson
  6. The A to Z of African American Cinema – Lewis, Dawnn (1961–) – S. Torriano Berry, Venise T. Berry
  7. Dawnn Lewis Biography (1961–)
  8. Meet Olympic Diver Greg Louganis and Actor Dawnn Lewis at the Soc
  9. "Dawnn Lewis: Touring" on the Internet Broadway Database
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  11. Luxoflux. True Crime: New York City. Activision. Scene: Pause menu credits, 4:30:21 in, VOICE TALENT.
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