Loretta Devine

Last updated
Loretta Devine
Devine in December 2010
Education University of Houston (1971, BA)
Brandeis University (1976, MFA)
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1977–present
Glenn Marshall
(m. 2001)

Loretta Devine is an American actress and singer.

Devine is known for numerous roles across stage and screen. Her most high profile roles include Lorrell Robinson in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls , the long-suffering Gloria Matthews in the film Waiting to Exhale , and her recurring role as Adele Webber on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy , for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2011.


Early life

Loretta Devine was born in Houston, Texas. Her mother, Eunice O'Neal (née Toliver), was a beautician, and her father, James Devine, worked as a laborer. [1] She grew up in the Acres Homes area of Houston, where her mother was a single mother to six children. [2] She was very active on the pep squad, and performed in talent shows at George Washington Carver High School. [3]

In 1971, Devine graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Drama. [3] In 1976, she received a Master of Fine Arts in Theater from Brandeis University. [4]

She was initiated into the Epsilon Lambda Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha.


Stage work

Devine has worked extensively on Broadway. Her Broadway debut was in 1978 in a musical called A Broadway Musical , which closed after 14 previews and only one performance on December 21, 1978. She captured attention in her second Broadway show, called Comin' Uptown, which featured Gregory Hines. [5]

She rose to stardom in Dreamgirls , a smash 1981 Broadway musical loosely based on the history of The Supremes, in which she originated the role of Lorrell Robinson (a fictional character based on Mary Wilson). The story of Dreamgirls was created during workshops that were carried out in six-week workshops over the period of three years, which Devine, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Jennifer Holliday developed via improv. [5] She also received raves in the 1995 Apollo revival of The Wiz as Glinda the Good Witch of the South.


While rehearsing for Dreamgirls with a little girl in 1981, Devine was cast in Jessie Maple's Will , the first independent feature-length film directed by an African-American woman. [6] For her featured role in the low-budget film, Devine earned $500. [6]

Minor roles for Devine followed in films such as Little Nikita and Stanley & Iris . She has a cameo performance in the film version of Dreamgirls .

In 1995, she landed a major role as Gloria Matthews in Waiting to Exhale , opposite Whitney Houston, Gregory Hines, and Angela Bassett. The role earned her an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, as did her next movie, The Preacher's Wife , her second movie with Houston and Hines. She later co-starred opposite Alfre Woodard in Down in the Delta (1998) and Funny Valentines (1999).

Television and continued film successes

Devine played roles as a repertory character in the play The Colored Museum with Vickilyn Reynolds. Devine and Reynolds both went on to play sisters in the short-lived TV series Sugar and Spice . During the period between the play and the series, Devine appeared in the first season of the TV series A Different World as Stevie Rallen, a dormitory director at the fictional Hillman College.

From 2000 to 2004, Devine starred as high school teacher Marla Hendricks on the Fox drama series Boston Public . Devine won three more Image Awards for her work in the series. She also continued to work in film, playing prominent roles in Urban Legend , Urban Legends: Final Cut , and I Am Sam . Devine earned yet another Image Award nomination and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her work in the 2004 film Woman Thou Art Loosed . She also appeared in the 2005 film Crash . In 2007, she appeared in This Christmas , and in the next year had a series regular role on the ABC comedy-drama Eli Stone . Devine also was part of the ensemble casts of two Tyler Perry-directed films For Colored Girls and Madea's Big Happy Family . In 2008, she was featured prominently on George Michael's remake of "Feeling Good." She also appeared in First Sunday , Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Jumping the Broom . [5]

Devine had a recurring role in the Shonda Rhimes drama series Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Richard Webber's first wife, Adele. [7] In 2011 she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her performance. She was nominated for a second time for her performance in 2012. [8] Devine also won Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Female Actor in a Feature Role for Grey's Anatomy in 2012. [9]

In 2011, she also starred on the short-lived ABC Family comedy State of Georgia . In 2012, she was part of Being Mary Jane cast. She also played Hallie, a nurse, on Playhouse Disney's Doc McStuffins . Later that year she began starring in the Lifetime series The Client List , playing the role of Georgia Cummings, the owner of the massage parlor where the lead character Riley Parks works. The series was cancelled after two seasons. [10] Devine also played Cynthia Carmichael on the NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show . [11] [12]



1981 Will
1983 Anna to the Infinite Power Ms. Everett Benson
1988 Little Nikita Verna McLaughlin
1988 Sticky Fingers Diane Cooley
1989Heart and SoulTonia HarrisShort film
1990 Stanley & Iris Bertha Simmons
1990Sugar and SpiceLoretta Fontaine
1990Cop RockJuror Devine
1991 Livin' Large Nadine Biggs
1992Caged FearJudy Jane
1992 Class Act Myrna
1993 Amos & Andrew Ula
1994The Hard TruthRose Maxwell
1995 Waiting to Exhale Gloria Matthews NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1996 The Preacher's Wife Beverly NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1997The Price of KissingJackee Blaine
1997 Hoodlum Pigfoot Mary
1997 Lover Girl Leticia
1998 Urban Legend Reese Wilson
1998 Down in the Delta Zenia
1999LillieMichelle Collins
1999Operation SplitsvillePrincipal Edna Fields
1999 Funny Valentines Dearie B.
1999 The Breaks Floria
2000 Punks Aretha Stone
2000 Urban Legends: Final Cut Reese Wilson
2000 What Women Want Florence "Flo" Glover
2001 Kingdom Come Marguerite SlocumbNominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2001 I Am Sam Margaret Calgrove
2002Baby of the FamilyDelores Evans
2002 Book of Love Mary Baker
2003 Zoe Busiek: Wild Card Marie Bookerson
2004 Woman Thou Art Loosed Cassey JordanNominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2004 Crash Shaniqua JohnsonNominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress
2005 King's Ransom Miss Gladys
2006 Dirty Laundry Evelyn
2006 Dreamgirls Gladys Brooks
2007 Cougar Club Dolly
2007 This Christmas Shirley Ann "Ma'Dere" WhitfieldNominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2008 First Sunday Sister Doris
2008 Beverly Hills Chihuahua Delta (voice)
2008 Spring Breakdown Dr. Marguerite Tyson
2009 My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? Miss Willheima Roberts
2010 Death at a Funeral Cynthia
2010 Lottery Ticket Grandma Dorothy Carson
2010 For Colored Girls Juanita Sims / Green
2010 Politics of Love Shirlee Gupta
2011 Jumping the Broom Pamela Taylor
2011 Madea's Big Happy Family Shirley
2013 Khumba Mama Veronica aka Mama V (voice)
2014Comeback DadMalinda
2014 You're Not You Marilyn Jo
2015 Welcome to Me Mary the Lawyer
2016 Norm of the North Tamecia (voice)
2016 Caged No More Aggie James
2016 Grandma’s House Grandma Margie
2016No RegretsMrs. Carey
2017 My Other Home Mabel Marbury
2017 Naked Carol
2018 Sierra Burgess Is a Loser Ms. April Thomson
2018Jingle BelleEmory Simons
2019The TrapMama Jay
2019 A Family Reunion Christmas M'Dear Netflix film
2020 Spell Eloise
2021HeadShopJeanette Bergason
2021 Queen Bees Sally Heart
2021 The Starling Velma
TBA Mack & Rita SharonPost-production


1987 CBS Summer Playhouse CherylEpisode: "Sirens"
1987–1988 A Different World Stevie Rallen10 episodes
1988 The Murder of Mary Phagan Annie Maude CarterTelevision film
1988 Amen Lydia CummingsEpisode: "Court of Love"
1989 Parent Trap III Thelma PardrigeTelevision film
1990 Murphy Brown Nurse Diana HawkingEpisode: "The Bitch's Back"
1991 Great Performances Janine WillsEpisode: "The Colored Museum"
1991 Reasonable Doubts Valerie HallEpisode: "Hard Bargains"
1992–1993 Roc Cynthia Raine5 episodes
1993 The American Clock Irene Mack ShawTelevision film
1995 Picket Fences Marla MelroseEpisode: "Close Encounters"
1995 Ned and Stacey Mrs. Sally DuncanEpisode: "Reality Check"
1996 Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault Miss Mary JohnsonTelevision film
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child The MotherEpisode: "The Golden Goose"
1997 Touched by an Angel Tonya HawkinsEpisode: "Amazing Grace: Part 1"
1997 Promised Land Tonya HawkinsEpisode: "Amazing Grace: Part 2"
1997 Clover Everleen MooreTelevision film
1997 Don King: Only in America Connie HarperTelevision film
1999–2002 The PJs Muriel Stubbs (voice)43 episodes
1999 Moesha Gwen "Stephanie" "Steph" WatkinsEpisode: "It Takes Two"
1999 Clueless Phyllis HolidayEpisode: "Graduation"
1999 Funny Valentines Dearie B.Television film
1999 Jackie's Back Snookie TateTelevision film
1999 Introducing Dorothy Dandridge Ruby Dandridge Television film
2000–2004 Boston Public Marla Hendricks81 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2001, 2003–04)
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Television Series (2003–04)
2000 Family Law Gloria RiversEpisode: "Playing God"
2000 Ally McBeal Nora MillsEpisode: "I Will Survive"
2000 Freedom Song Evelyn WalkerTelevision film
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
2000Best ActressConnie TraversTelevision film
2003The SystemMrs. Marsha WatersUnsold TV pilot
2003 Half & Half Erika Duke2 episodes
2004–2005 Wild Card M. Pearl McGuire19 episodes
2005–2013 Grey's Anatomy Adele Webber22 episodes
Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2005, 2017 Supernatural Missouri Moseley2 episodes
2005–2006 Girlfriends Judge Vashti Jackson2 episodes
2006 Boston Legal Annabelle CarruthersEpisode: "The Nutcrackers"
2006 Life Is Not a Fairy Tale Addie CollinsTelevision film
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
2006–2007 Everybody Hates Chris Maxine Rock3 episodes
2007 Boston Legal Judge Victoria ThomsonEpisode: "Oral Contracts"
2008–2009 Eli Stone Patti Dellacroix26 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
2009 Cold Case Chandra Patterson '09Episode: "Soul"
2009Legally MadJeanette Woods Unaired pilot [13]
2010 Party Down Diane EllisonEpisode: "James Ellison Funeral"
2011 Glee Sister Mary ConstanceEpisode: "Original Song"
2011 State of Georgia Aunt Honey12 episodes
2012–2020 Doc McStuffins Hallie Hippo/Nurse Hattie (voice)115 episodes
2012 The Game Grandma Donna MackEpisode: "There's No Place Like Home"
2012 The Cleveland Show Shirley (voice)Episode: "Mama Drama"
2012 RuPaul's Drag Race HerselfEpisode: "Snatch Game"
2012 Shake It Up Judge Marsha ElliottEpisode: "Judge It Up"
2012–2013 The Client List Georgia Cummings25 episodes
2014 Psych Melba BirdsonEpisode: "1967: A Psych Odyssey"
2014–2015 Sirens Rosemary St. Claire3 episodes
2015 Being Mary Jane CeCe Robinson6 episodes
2015–2017 The Carmichael Show Cynthia Carmichael32 episodes
2016 Dinner in America with Brett Gelman HerselfTV special
2018 Dear White People SorbetEpisode: "Volume 2: Chapter VII"
2018 Living Biblically Estelle WilliamsEpisode: "Never Let Loyalty Love You"
2018 Love Is Rose Marie2 episodes
2019–present Family Reunion M'DearMain cast
2019 A Black Lady Sketch Show Pastor Rosetta DanielsEpisode: "Your Boss Knows You Don't Have Eyebrows"
2019 Black-ish Lynette MaeEpisode: "Pops the Question"
2020 P-Valley Grandma Ernestine2 episodes
2021 The Loud House Gayle McBride (voice)Episode: "Resident Upheaval"

Stage appearances

See also

Related Research Articles

Kim Stanley American actress

Kim Stanley was an American actress, primarily in television and theatre, but with occasional film performances.

<i>The Wiz</i> 1974 musical based on the 1900 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is a musical with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and book by William F. Brown. It is a retelling of L. Frank Baum's children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) in the context of contemporary African-American culture. It opened on October 21, 1974, at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, and moved to Broadway's Majestic Theatre with a new cast on January 5, 1975.

Stockard Channing American actress (b. 1944)

Stockard Channing is an American actress. She is known for playing Betty Rizzo in the film Grease (1978) and First Lady Abbey Bartlet in the NBC television series The West Wing (1999–2006). She is also known for originating the role of Ouisa Kittredge in the stage and film versions of Six Degrees of Separation; the 1993 film version earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She was also one of two comic foils of The Number Painter on Sesame Street.

Phylicia Rashad American actress, singer, and stage director

Phylicia Rashād is an American actress, singer and stage director. She is known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show (1984–92) which earned her Emmy Award nominations in 1985 and 1986. She was dubbed "The Mother Of The Black Community" at the 2010 NAACP Image Awards and played Ruth Lucas on Cosby (1996–2000).

Tyne Daly American actress

Ellen Tyne Daly is an American actress. She has won six Emmy Awards for her television work and a Tony Award, and is a 2011 American Theatre Hall of Fame inductee.

Renée Elise Goldsberry American actress and singer

Renée Elise Goldsberry is an American actress, singer and songwriter, known for originating the role of Angelica Schuyler in the Broadway musical Hamilton, for which she won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Her other Broadway credits include Nettie Harris in the original Broadway cast of The Color Purple, and Mimi Marquez in Rent. She has portrayed many roles on television, including Geneva Pine on The Good Wife, and Evangeline Williamson on One Life to Live, for which she received two Daytime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. As of 2021, she stars in the Peacock musical comedy Girls5eva. Also that year, she received nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in a Limited Series or Movie for her performance in the Disney+ live stage recording of Hamilton which was released in 2020.

<i>Dreamgirls</i> 1981 Broadway musical

Dreamgirls is a Broadway musical, with music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen. Based on the show business aspirations and successes of R&B acts such as The Supremes, The Shirelles, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and others, the musical follows the story of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called "The Dreams", who become music superstars.

Frances Conroy American actress

Frances Hardman Conroy is an American actress. She is best known for playing Ruth Fisher on the television series Six Feet Under (2001–2005), for which she won a Golden Globe and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. She is also known for playing the older version of Moira O'Hara in season one of the television anthology series American Horror Story, which garnered Conroy her first Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television nomination, and as well a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. Conroy subsequently portrayed The Angel of Death, Myrtle Snow, Gloria Mott, Mama Polk, Bebe Babbitt, and Belle Noir on seven further seasons of the show: Asylum, Coven, Freak Show, Roanoke, Cult, Apocalypse, and Double Feature, respectively. Conroy is the fourth actor who has appeared in most seasons of the show. For her performance in Coven, she was nominated again for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.

Eden Espinosa American actress and singer

Eden Erica Espinosa is an American actress and singer who is best known for her performances as Elphaba for the Broadway, Los Angeles, and San Francisco productions of the musical Wicked.

Sada Thompson

Sada Carolyn Thompson was an American stage, film, and television actress. She was known to television audiences as Kate Lawrence in Family (1976-1980).

Tina Chen is a Chinese-American stage, film, and television actress best known for her starring roles in the films Alice's Restaurant, Three Days of the Condor, and The Hawaiians.

Lois Nettleton American actress

Lois June Nettleton was an American film, stage, radio, and television actress. She received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won two Daytime Emmy Awards.

Lois Smith American actress

Lois Arlene Smith is an American character actress, whose career spans eight decades. She made her film debut in the 1955 drama film East of Eden, and later played supporting roles in a number of movies, including Five Easy Pieces (1970), Resurrection (1980), Fatal Attraction (1987), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), Dead Man Walking (1995), Twister (1996), Minority Report (2002), The Nice Guys (2016) and Lady Bird (2017).

Elizabeth Ashley American actress

Elizabeth Ann Cole, known professionally as Elizabeth Ashley, is an American actress of theatre, film, and television. She has been nominated for three Tony Awards, winning once in 1962 for Take Her, She's Mine. Ashley was also nominated for the BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for her supporting performance in The Carpetbaggers (1964), and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1991 for Evening Shade. Elizabeth was a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 24 times. She appeared in several episodes of “In the Heat of the Night" as Maybelle Chesboro

Alli Mauzey is an American actress and singer best known for her performance as Glinda in the Broadway and 1st national tour productions of Wicked and for originating the role of Lenora in the musical Cry-Baby, as well as the main character voice acting role of Lioness in the A.T.O.M. animated series.

Erin Mackey American stage actress and singer (born 1986)

Erin Ashley Mackey is an American stage actress and singer, known for playing the role of Glinda in the Chicago, Los Angeles, Broadway, and Second National Tour productions of the musical Wicked. She was also a double in 1998's The Parent Trap.

Uzo Aduba American actress

Uzoamaka Nwanneka Aduba is an American actress. She is known for her role as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black (2013–2019), for which she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014, an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2015, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series in 2014 and 2015. She is one of only two actors to win an Emmy Award in both the comedy and drama categories for the same role, the other being Ed Asner for the character Lou Grant.

Jasmine Cephas Jones American actress and singer

Jasmine Cephas Jones is an American actress, singer, and producer. She is best known for originating the dual roles of Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds in the Broadway stage musical Hamilton. In 2020, Cephas Jones won a Primetime Emmy for portraying Tyisha in #freerayshawn.

Asmeret Ghebremichael is an American actress and singer, known for her work in Submissions Only, Legally Blonde, and The Book of Mormon.

Will is a 1981 American drama film directed by Jessie Maple. It was the first independent feature-length film directed by an African-American woman. The movie was filmed on location in Harlem with a budget of $12,000 and featured an as-yet unknown actress, Loretta Devine, in her first film role. In 2013, the film was restored by the New York Women in Film and Television's Women's Film Preservation Fund.


  1. "Loretta Devine - Texas Birth Index". FamilySearch . 21 August 1949. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  2. Loewenstein, Melinda (19 August 2011). "Emmy Nominee Loretta Devine Reflects on a Divine Career". Backstage . Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  3. 1 2 Kelly, Chris (26 February 2013). "Devine Calling". Modern Luxury - Houston. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  4. Pease, Theresa (Summer 2011). "Achieving Devinity: Even if you don't know this Brandeis actress' name, you'll recognize her face". Brandeis Magazine. Brandeis University . Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 Smiley, Tavis (4 May 2011). "Actress Loretta Devine" (Video interview). Tavis Smiley . PBS . Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  6. 1 2 Oxendine, Alece (31 July 2013). "Remembering Jessie Maple And Her Landmark 1981 Feature-Length Film, 'Will'". Indie Wire. indiewire.com. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  7. Braxton, Greg (17 April 2008). "Devine counts many blessings". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  8. "| Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". Emmys.com. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  9. "2012 Gracie Awards". thegracies.org. Archived from the original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  10. "The Client List: canceled, no season three | canceled + renewed TV shows". TV Series Finale. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  11. Wells, Veronica (25 August 2015). "Loretta Devine Talks New Show, Waiting To Exhale & More". MadameNoire . Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  12. Raqiyah, Mays (26 August 2015). "Loretta Devine Tackles Topical Comedy on 'The Carmichael Show' [Interview]". Ebony . Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  13. Schneider, Michael (2009-05-11). "NBC passing on 'Legally Mad'". Variety . Retrieved 2019-12-28.