Robin Givens

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Robin Givens
Robin Simone Givens

(1964-11-27) November 27, 1964 (age 56)
New York City, U.S.
Alma mater Sarah Lawrence College
OccupationActress, model
Years active1978–present
  • (m. 1988;div. 1989)
  • Svetozar Marinković
    (m. 1997;div. 1998)
Partner(s) Murphy Jensen (1999–2002)

Robin Simone Givens (born November 27, 1964) is an American actress and model. She is also a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. [1]


Givens landed her breakthrough role of Darlene Merriman in the ABC sitcom Head of the Class in 1986, and remained on the series for its 5-year duration. Her troubled marriage to boxer Mike Tyson from 1988 [2] [3] drew considerable media attention, as did their acrimonious divorce. She later went on to become a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline for several years. [4]

Givens continued her career with film and television roles such as The Women of Brewster Place (1989) and Boomerang (1992). In 1996, Givens co-starred on the sitcom Sparks , which aired for two seasons on UPN. In January 2000, she took over hosting duties on the syndicated talk show Forgive or Forget . In 2007, Givens released her autobiography, Grace Will Lead Me Home. She has since had recurring roles on The Game , Tyler Perry's House of Payne , Chuck, Riverdale [5] and its spin-off Katy Keene .

Early life

Givens was born in New York City, to Ruth Roper (née Newby) and Reuben Givens, [6] who divorced when she was two.[ citation needed ] Her mother raised Givens and her sister Stephanie in Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, New York. [7] Givens was raised Catholic. [8] She occasionally modeled and acted as a teen. [9] As a model, she appeared in magazines such as Seventeen and Mademoiselle. She also had cameos in the films The Wiz (1978) and Fort Apache: The Bronx (1981). [7]

Givens graduated from New Rochelle Academy (a private school which closed in June 1987). At the age of 15, she enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College as a pre-medical major, becoming one of the youngest to attend the school. [7] [9] While in school she acted in daytime dramas. [7] She graduated at the age of 19 in 1984. [10] Givens claimed to have dropped out of Harvard Medical School to focus on her acting career, but the registrar's office stated that she never applied. [1] It was later reported that she took courses at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. [11]



In 1985, Givens auditioned for a guest spot on The Cosby Show. She won the spot and Bill Cosby became her mentor. [9] He convinced her to drop out of school and promised that if she wasn't successful in two years, he'd get her back into medical school and pay her tuition. [7] Soon after Givens appeared in Diff'rent Strokes and the 1986 television film Beverly Hills Madam , opposite Faye Dunaway. [7] That same year, she landed her breakthrough role as rich girl Darlene Merriman on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. [7] The series lasted five seasons, ending in 1991. In 1989, while starring in Head of the Class, she appeared in The Women of Brewster Place with Oprah Winfrey. She later appeared in Boomerang (1992).

In 1994, Givens posed nude for Playboy magazine. [12] During that period Givens felt she had lost her voice, so one of the reasons why she posed for the magazine was so that she could write her own article. [13] Givens was ranked No. 88 on Empire magazine's "100 Sexiest Stars in Film History" list in May 1995. [14] In 1996, Givens portrayed Claudia in the television movie The Face (also known as A Face to Die For) with Yasmine Bleeth. Later that year, she co-starred in the UPN sitcom Sparks , which ended its run in 1998. [15] [16] She also played Denise in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air . [17]


In January 2000, Givens appeared in a cameo in Toni Braxton's music video "He Wasn't Man Enough", as the wife of a cheating husband. [18] She returned to the entertainment industry later that year as the host of the talk show Forgive or Forget, replacing television personality Mother Love halfway through the show's second season. Ratings initially increased after Givens took over hosting duties, [19] but soon fell. The series was canceled after this season. [20]

In 2006, Givens attempted a return to television on MyNetworkTV's telenovela Saints and Sinners , [21] but the show garnered low ratings and was soon canceled. Givens continued acting in made-for-television films while also making appearances on Trinity Broadcasting Network's Praise the Lord program (July 12, 2007), and Larry King Live . In June 2007, she released her autobiography Grace Will Lead Me Home. [22] Givens returned to feature films in Tyler Perry's Southern drama The Family That Preys (2008). She also had a recurring role portraying a fictionalized version of herself on the CW comedy-drama The Game . Additionally, she has had a recurring role on the TBS show Tyler Perry's House of Payne , and a guest role on USA Network's Burn Notice . In addition to television and film roles, Givens has performed onstage. In 2001, she appeared in an off-Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues . [23] From February to April 16, 2006, she played the role of Roxie Hart in the Broadway play Chicago . [24] In 2007, she toured the country playing a part in the I'm Ready Productions play Men, Money & Golddiggers. Givens starred in the 2009 stage play A Mother's Prayer, which also starred Johnny Gill, Shirley Murdock, and Jermaine Crawford.

In 2007, Givens published a memoir entitled Grace Will Lead Me Home. In it, she reflects on the life of her praying grandmother, Grace, her experiences of domestic violence, her strong will to survive, feeling abandoned by her father, and her faith in God. [25] In 2011, she guest-starred in three episodes of NBC's spy-comedy Chuck : "Chuck Versus the Masquerade", "Chuck Versus the A-Team", and "Chuck Versus the Muuurder", as Jane Bentley. Later that year, she performed as Angel, a struggling blues singer, in the play Blues for An Alabama Sky at Pasadena Playhouse. [11] In 2015, she starred alongside Clifton Powell, Mishon Ratliff, and Malachi Malik in the segment "Mama's Boy" of TV One's anthology romance horror film Fear Files. [26]

Givens was the spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline for several years. [4] [13]

Personal life

At the age of 16, Givens met comedian Eddie Murphy at the Comedy Strip in New York. They dated for a year in the early 1980s. [7] [9] In 1986, she met basketball player Michael Jordan at a North Carolina golf tournament and they briefly dated until January 1987. [9] [7]

Givens began dating boxer Mike Tyson in 1987. [7] According to Givens, Tyson was physically abusive before they wed on February 7, 1988. [2] [27] Tyson stated that he was "severely traumatized by that relationship." [28] Tyson was then estimated to have $50 million; he and Givens did not have a prenuptial agreement. [29] [30] During their marriage, Givens bought a $4.3 million mansion in the affluent suburb of Bernardsville, New Jersey with money withdrawn from his brokerage account. [31] [32] [33] They appeared in a Diet Pepsi commercial together and on the cover of Life magazine. [34] [35]

After her miscarriage in June 1988, their marriage began to fall apart. [36] [37] Tyson believes Givens's pregnancy (and miscarriage) was a ruse only to rush him to the wedding altar, noting that in all the time she was supposedly pregnant Givens never gained a pound. [38] In a joint interview with Tyson on 20/20 in September 1988, Givens told Barbara Walters that life with him was "torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine," and she went on to describe his volatile temper. [39] In October 1988, Givens filed for divorce, citing spousal abuse and was granted a temporary restraining order. [34] Her attorney Marvin Mitchelson said, "She loves Michael Tyson, but there is continued violence, and she fears for her safety." [29] Tyson sought an annulment, accusing her of stealing millions of dollars and manipulating the public. [40] Givens responded by filing a $125 million libel suit for defamation. [41] Their divorce was finalized on Valentine's Day in 1989. [27]

Givens received negative press following her split from Tyson, particularly within sports and the African American community. [42] [43] [3] Headlines heralded her as "the Most Hated Woman in America" and she was described as a "gold digger who married Tyson solely for his millions." [44] [45] Givens denied that she received a reported divorce settlement of over $10 million from Tyson, stating that she "didn't receive one dime." [46] [47]

According to the 1989 biography Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson, Tyson admitted he punched Givens, stating "that was the best punch I've ever thrown in my entire life." [48] Tyson claimed the book was "filled with inaccuracies." [49] In 2009, Tyson joked about "socking" Givens on Oprah , which caused laughter in the audience. Winfrey later issued an apology to Givens. [4]

Following her separation from Tyson, Givens dated actor Brad Pitt. [50] In 1993, Givens adopted her first son Michael "Buddy" Givens. [51] In 1997, she married her tennis instructor, Svetozar Marinković. Givens filed for divorce months later. [14] In 1999, she had a second son, William "Billy" Jensen, with ex-boyfriend, tennis player Murphy Jensen. [52] She briefly dated radio host Howard Stern in 2000. [53]

In January 2004, Givens struck a pedestrian while driving an SUV through a Miami, Florida, intersection. [54] Givens was ticketed for failing to use due care with a pedestrian in a crosswalk, but the charges were later dismissed. [55] In June 2004, the injured party filed a civil lawsuit against Givens for an unspecified amount. [56]

A May 7, 2009, article in Forbes magazine reported that the Internal Revenue Service was suing Givens for unpaid federal income taxes totaling $292,000 ($352,000 in present-day USD when adjusted for inflation), an amount which included interest and penalties. The government had asked a federal court in Florida for a judgment against her on 39 assessments covering a span of eight years. [57]


1978 The Wiz Guest at Aunt Emma's PartyUncredited
1991 A Rage in Harlem Imabelle
1992 Boomerang Jacqueline Broyer
1994 Foreign Student April
1994 Blankman Kimberly Jonz
1995Dangerous IntentionsKaye Ferrar
2000 Everything's Jake
2001The EliteAshe
2002 Book of Love Iyanna
2002 Antibody Dr. Rachel Saverini Direct-to-video release
2003 Head of State Kim
2003 A Good Night to Die Dana
2003 Love Chronicles Monifa Burly
2005Flip The ScriptRain Jones
2006Restraining OrderDiane McNeil
2008 Queen of Media Wendy Williams
2008 The Family That Preys Abigail "Abby" Dexter
2008Little Hercules In 3-DDana
2009A Mother's PrayerBrendaDirect-to-DVD release
2010 Enemies Among Us GloriaDirect-to-DVD release
2012Unspoken WordsMrs. LewisDirect-to-DVD release
2012Double SidedMiranda JohnsonDirect-to-DVD release
2012The Love You SaveAlexis
2014Airplane Vs VolcanoDr. Whitmore
2016 God's Not Dead 2 Principal Kinney
2018 God Bless the Broken Road Kareena Williams
1985 The Cosby Show SusanneEpisode: "Theo and the Older Woman"
1986 Diff'rent Strokes AnnEpisode: "The Big Bribe"
1986 Beverly Hills Madam April BaxterTelevision movie
1986 Philip Marlowe, Private Eye Token WareEpisode: "Pickup on Noon Street"
1986–1991 Head of the Class Darlene Merriman114 episodes
1989 The Penthouse Dinah St. ClairTelevision movie
1989 The Women of Brewster Place Kiswana (real name Melanie)Miniseries
1992Angel StreetDet. Anita KingTelevision movie
1992 Angel Street Det. Anita KingUnknown episodes
1995 Me and the Boys Nina3 episodes
1995 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air DeniseEpisode: "Cold Feet, Hot Body"
1995 Courthouse Suzanne Graham11 episodes
1996 In the House Alex3 episodes
1996 A Face to Die For ClaudiaTelevision movie
1996–1998 Sparks Wilma Cuthbert40 episodes
1997 Moesha LadonnaEpisode: "Strike a Pose"
1999 The Love Boat: The Next Wave Dana ChaseEpisode: "Don't Judge a Book by Its Lover"
1999 Michael Jordan: An American Hero Juanita Vanoy/Juanita JordanTelevision movie
1999 Cosby Ms. Malone2 episodes
2000 The Expendables RandyTelevision movie
2000Chicken Soup for the SoulCounselorEpisode: "The Right Thing"
2000 DAG JenniferEpisode: "Jennifer Returns"
2001Spinning Out of ControlErinTelevision movie
2003 Hollywood Wives: The New Generation KyndraTelevision movie
2003–2004 One on One Sheila2 episodes
2005Captive HeartsJade MarloTelevision movie
2008 Tyler Perry's House of Payne Tanya6 episodes
2008Burn NoticeKandiEpisode: "Scatter Point"
2008 The Game Herself7 episodes
2008 Everybody Hates Chris StacyEpisode: "Everybody Hates Doc's"
2010My Parents, My Sister & MeKeela Goldman7 episodes
2010 Drop Dead Diva Ann SimpsonEpisode: "A Mother's Secret"
2010 Nikita Mary MiracleEpisode: "All the Way"
2011 Chuck Jane Bentley3 episodes
2011 Reed Between the Lines DominiqueEpisode: "Let's Talk About Jealousy"
2012 Suburgatory TulsaEpisode: "Independence Day"
2012 Retired at 35 Dr. KellerEpisode: "The Dates"
2013 90210 Cheryl3 episodes
2013–2014 Twisted Judy2 episodes
2014 The First Family MelanieEpisode: "The First Pageant"
2016 Man Seeking Woman Vicki ClausEpisode: "Tinsel"
2016 Lucifer Leila SimmsEpisode: "Sin-Eater"
2017–2019 Riverdale Sierra McCoyRecurring Role; 28 episodes
2017–2018 Once Upon a Time Eudora2 episodes
2019 Step Up: High Water Dana
2019 Ambitions Stephanie CarlisleSeries regular, 18 episodes
2019 The Fix Julianne JohnsonSeries regular, 7 episodes
2020 Katy Keene Sierra McCoyEpisode: "Chapter Six: Mama Said"

Awards and nominations

1991ShoWest Convention, USAWonFemale Star of Tomorrow
2004 Black Reel Awards NominatedTelevision: Best Supporting Actress Hollywood Wives: The New Generation


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