Rutina Wesley

Last updated

Rutina Wesley
Rutina Wesley by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Born (1978-12-21) December 21, 1978 (age 40)
Education University of Evansville (BFA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)
Years active2005–present
Jacob Fishel
(m. 2005;div. 2013)

Rutina Wesley (born December 21, 1978) [1] is an American actress. She is best known for her roles as Tara Thornton on the HBO television series True Blood and Nova Bordelon on the OWN television series Queen Sugar .

Americans citizens, or natives, of the United States of America

Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance.

Tara Thornton fictional character in Charlaine Harriss The Southern Vampire Mysteries

Tara Mae Thornton is a fictional character in Charlaine Harris's The Southern Vampire Mysteries and their television adaptation, HBO's True Blood.

HBO American pay television network

HBO is an American premium cable and satellite television network owned by the namesake unit Home Box Office, Inc.,, a division of AT&T's WarnerMedia. The program which featured on the network consists primarily of theatrically released motion pictures and original television shows, along with made-for-cable movies, documentaries and occasional comedy and concert specials.


Early life and education

Wesley was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. [2] Her father, Ivery Wheeler, is a professional tap dancer, and her mother, Cassandra Wesley, was a showgirl. [3] She attended high school at the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts. [4] She studied dance at Simba Studios and the West Las Vegas Arts Center. [5]

Showgirl a performer who highlights their physical attributes through dance and movement

A showgirl is a female dancer or performer in a stage entertainment show intended to showcase the performer's physical attributes, typically by way of revealing clothing, toplessness or nudity.

Las Vegas Academy high school in Las Vegas, Nevada

The Las Vegas Academy of the Arts is a magnet high school located in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Students are accepted through an audition process and claim a major pertaining to performing arts or visual arts.

While at the Las Vegas Academy, Wesley missed several other auditions for college training programs and was finally accepted by the University of Evansville in Indiana. She was hesitant in joining the university because of a lack of minorities in the state. [6]

University of Evansville private university in Evansville, Indiana, United States

The University of Evansville (UE) is a private liberal arts university in Evansville, Indiana. Founded in 1854 as Moores Hill College, the university is focused on liberal arts and science degrees, most with strong cooperative learning opportunities both on and off campus. The school is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Indiana State of the United States of America

Indiana is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Indiana is the 38th largest by area and the 17th most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis. Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816. Indiana borders Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Kentucky to the south and southeast, and Illinois to the west.

After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance in 2001, [7] her grandmother suggested that she do a nursing course, but Wesley insisted on pursuing her artistic education. [6] She joined the Juilliard School in 2001 [8] and graduated in May 2005 (Group 34), [9] which included a summer spent at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. [2] At Juilliard, she became close friends with her future co-star Nelsan Ellis [10] (Group 33: 2000–2004). [11]

A Bachelor of Fine Arts is the standard undergraduate degree for students in the United States and Canada seeking a professional education in the visual or performing arts.

Nursing activity within the health care sector

Nursing is a profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life. Nurses may be differentiated from other health care providers by their approach to patient care, training, and scope of practice. Nurses practice in many specialties with differing levels of prescription authority. Many nurses provide care within the ordering scope of physicians, and this traditional role has shaped the public image of nurses as care providers. However, nurse practitioners are permitted by most jurisdictions to practice independently in a variety of settings. In the postwar period, nurse education has undergone a process of diversification towards advanced and specialized credentials, and many of the traditional regulations and provider roles are changing.

Juilliard School American performing arts conservatory in New York City

The Juilliard School is a performing arts conservatory located in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1905, the school trains about 850 undergraduate and graduate students in dance, drama, and music. It is widely regarded as one of the world's leading drama, music and dance schools, with some of the most prestigious arts programs. In 2016, QS Quacquarelli Symonds ranked it as the world's best institution for Performing Arts in their inaugural global ranking of the discipline.


Wesley is at the International Comic-Con San Diego with Ryan Kwanten, Deborah Ann Woll, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Nelsan Ellis on this TV shows of True Blood in 2011. True Blood - 2011 International Comic-Con.jpg
Wesley is at the International Comic-Con San Diego with Ryan Kwanten, Deborah Ann Woll, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Nelsan Ellis on this TV shows of True Blood in 2011.

In December 2006, Wesley was featured in David Hare's Broadway play The Vertical Hour . [3] In 2007, Wesley also appeared in The Public Theater production of In Darfur by playwright Winter Miller, co-starring Heather Raffo and Aaron Lohr, among others. [12]

David Hare (playwright) English playwright, screenwriter and theatre and film director

Sir David Hare is an English playwright, screenwriter and theatre and film director. Best known for his stage work, Hare has also enjoyed great success with films, receiving two Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for writing The Hoursin 2002, based on the novel written by Michael Cunningham, and The Readerin 2008, based on the novel of the same name written by Bernhard Schlink.

The Vertical Hour is a play by David Hare. The play addresses the relationship of characters with opposing views on the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and also explores psychological tension between public lives and private lives.

The Public Theater theater in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, United States

The Public Theater is a New York City arts organization founded as the Shakespeare Workshop in 1954 by Joseph Papp, with the intention of showcasing the works of up-and-coming playwrights and performers. It is led by Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham. The venue opened in 1967, mounting the world-premiere production of the musical Hair as its first show.

Wesley had a minor role in the 2005 film Hitch , which was edited out in the final cut. [5] In 2007, she made her on-screen debut as the main character in the film How She Move , from British director Ian Iqbal Rashid. The character Raya Green, who enters a step-dancing competition to secure funds for her education, was inspired by Tony Manero, portrayed by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever . [13] Prior to the shooting of the film, Wesley underwent a five-week dance rehearsal period. [5] Portraying a woman of Jamaican descent, she also took dialect coaching for the role. [2]

<i>Hitch</i> (film) 2005 romantic comedy movie directed by Andy Tennant

Hitch is a 2005 American romantic comedy film directed by Andy Tennant and starring Will Smith. The film, which was written by Kevin Bisch, co-stars Eva Mendes, Kevin James, and Amber Valletta. Smith plays the main fictional character of the film, Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, who is a professional dating consultant who makes a living teaching men how to woo women. The film was released on February 11, 2005 by Columbia Pictures.

Film editing activity

Film editing is both a creative and a technical part of the post-production process of filmmaking. The term is derived from the traditional process of working with film which increasingly involves the use of digital technology.

<i>How She Move</i> 2007 drama film directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid

How She Move is a 2007 drama film directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid and starring Rutina Wesley, Clé Bennett and Romina D'Ugo. The film showcases the street culture of step dancing. The film is produced by Celluloid Dreams, Sienna Films, Paramount Vantage and MTV Films.

Wesley auditioned for the role Tara Thornton in the HBO series True Blood in 2007 and secured the part after creator Alan Ball chose her because "[she] was the first person who showed [Tara's] vulnerable side". [3]

In January 2015, it was announced that Wesley had been cast in a recurring role on the NBC drama series Hannibal . She portrayed Reba McClane, "a blind woman who enters into a relationship with Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), and helps soothe his murderous urges—at least at first." [14] Wesley appeared as Liza Warner in the fourth season of Arrow. [15] [16]

In 2016, Wesley was cast as lead character in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama series Queen Sugar , produced by Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey. [17]

Personal life

Wesley divides her time between Los Angeles and Astoria, Queens. In 2005, she married her former Juilliard classmate Jacob Fishel, an actor. Wesley filed for divorce on August 16, 2013, citing irreconcilable differences. [18]

In November 2017, Wesley announced her engagement to Shonda, a female chef from New Orleans. [19]



2007 How She Move Raya Green
2012 California Winter Marcy Sanchez
2013The Championship RoundsTinaShort film
2014 13 Sins Shelby
Last Weekend Nora Finley-Perkins
2015 The Perfect Guy Alicia


YearTV showsHearts ratesRolesNotes
2008 Numb3rs Sarah / Jenny Calandro"Magic Show"
2008–2014 True Blood Tara Thornton Main role
2009 The Cleveland Show Yvette (voice)"Ladies' Night"
2010True Blood: WebisodesTara Thornton"Sookie, Tara & Lafayette"
2010 Generator Rex Providence Cadet Kenwyn Jones (voice)"Basic"
2011 Generator Rex Providence Agent Kenwyn Jones (voice)"Lost Weekend"
2011 Bandwagon: The Series Auditioner"It's Your One Shot"
2011Top 100 Number OnesTV film
2012True Blood: Jessica's BlogTara Thornton"Big Vampire Sisters"
2012 The Cleveland Show Tori (voice)"Frapp Attack"
2015 Hannibal Reba McClaneRecurring role
2015Broad SquadJoannePilot
2015, 2017 Arrow Liza Warner/Lady Cop Episodes: "Beyond Redemption" and "The Sin-Eater"
2016present Queen Sugar Nova BordelonSeries regular
2019 The Walking Dead JocelynEpisode: "Scars"

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryNominated workResult
2009 5th Scream Awards Best Supporting Actress
True Blood
14th Satellite Awards Best Cast (or Best Ensemble) – Television Series Won
2010 16th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2013 44th NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesNominated
2017 48th NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Queen Sugar
17th Black Reel Awards Won
2018 49th NAACP Image Awards Nominated

See also

Related Research Articles

Brook Kerr is an American actress who is best known for her portrayal of Whitney Russell Harris on the television soap opera Passions.

Danielle Fishel American actress

Danielle Christine Fishel is an American actress and television personality. She is known for her role as Topanga Lawrence-Matthews on the 1993–2000 teen sitcom Boy Meets World, which ran on ABC, and its 2014–2017 successor Girl Meets World on Disney Channel.

Charisma Carpenter actress

Charisma Carpenter is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Cordelia Chase in the popular TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–1999) and its spin-off series Angel (1999–2004). She has also starred as Kyra on Charmed (2004), Kendall Casablancas on Veronica Mars (2005–2006), Rebecca Sewell on The Lying Game (2012–2013) and Lacy in The Expendables film series (2010–2012).

Alexa PenaVega American actress and singer

Alexa PenaVega is an American actress and singer. She is known for her role as Carmen Cortez in the Spy Kids film series and Shilo Wallace in the film Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008). In 2009, she starred as the title character Ruby Gallagher in the ABC Family series Ruby & the Rockits.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead American actress and singer

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an American actress and singer. Her first significant role came as Jessica Bennett on the NBC soap opera Passions (1999–2000) and she went on to appear in TV series such as Tru Calling (2004) and films including the superhero comedy Sky High (2005). She came to wider attention as a scream queen for her roles in the horror series Wolf Lake (2001–2002), the giant monster film Monster Island (2004), the supernatural horror film Final Destination 3 (2006), the slasher film Black Christmas (2006) and the exploitation horror film Death Proof (2007).

Evanna Lynch Irish actress, vegan activist, podcast host and narrator

Evanna Patricia Lynch, is an Irish actress, vegan activist, podcast host and narrator. She rose to prominence for her role as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film series, appearing in the last four films and their tie-in video games, as well as in the musical A Very Potter Senior Year.

<i>Red Dragon</i> (novel) 1981 book by Thomas Harris

Red Dragon is a novel by American author Thomas Harris, first published in 1981. The plot follows former FBI profiler Will Graham, who comes out of retirement to find and apprehend an enigmatic serial-killer nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy", who is committing familicidal murders. The novel introduced the character Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial-killer, to whom Graham reluctantly turns for advice and has a dark past with. The title refers to the figure from William Blake's painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun.

Janina Gavankar American actress

Janina Zione Gavankar is an American actress and musician. Gavankar is also trained as a pianist, vocalist, and orchestral percussionist. She majored in Theatre Performance at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Adina Elizabeth Porter is an American actress, best known for her television performances as Lettie Mae Thornton on the HBO dark fantasy horror series True Blood, Kendra James on HBO's The Newsroom, Indra on the CW post-apocalyptic science fiction drama series The 100, and Sally Freeman, Lee Harris, Beverly Hope, and Dinah Stevens on the first, sixth, seventh, and eighth seasons of the FX anthology series American Horror Story.

Carmen Electra American actress and model

Tara Leigh Patrick, better known by her stage name Carmen Electra, is an American glamour model, actress, television personality, singer, and dancer. She began her career as a singer after moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she met Prince, who produced her debut record. She later relocated to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a career as an actress, gaining notoriety for her role as Lani McKenzie on the television series Baywatch.

Strange Love (<i>True Blood</i>) 1st episode of the first season of True Blood

"Strange Love" is the pilot episode of True Blood. The episode was written and directed by Alan Ball and originally aired in the United States on HBO on September 7, 2008. In the episode, Sookie Stackhouse meets vampire Bill Compton and saves him from vicious vampire drainers, while her best friend Tara becomes the new bartender at Sam Merlotte's bar and Sookie's brother Jason finds himself accused of murder. The episode received generally positive reviews from critics. It was rated TV-MA for Adult Content, Adult Language, Nudity, Strong Sexual Content, and Violence.

Lady Cop

The Lady Cop is a fictional police officer, a comic book character published by DC Comics. She debuted in 1st Issue Special #4, and was created by Robert Kanigher and John Rosenberger.

Nelsan Ellis American film and television actor and playwright

Nelsan Ellis was an American actor and playwright. He achieved critical acclaim for his portrayal of Lafayette Reynolds in the HBO television series True Blood (2008–2014), for which he won a Satellite Award from the International Press Academy, among other accolades. He also starred as Shinwell Johnson in Elementary from 2016 to 2017, and played a variety of guest roles in other television series, including Veronica Mars and Without a Trace.

<i>True Blood</i> (season 1) season of television series

The first season of the American television drama series True Blood premiered on September 7, 2008 and concluded on November 23, 2008. It consists of 12 episodes, each running approximately 55 minutes in length and was, for the most part, based on the novel Dead Until Dark, the first entry in The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. The story takes place in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, two years after vampires have made their presence known to mankind, and follows telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse as she attempts to solve a series of murders that seem to be motivated by a hatred of vampires.

Willow Shields American actress

Willow Shields is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Primrose Everdeen in The Hunger Games film series.

LeeLee is an American singer.

Samira Denise Wiley is an American actress. She is best known for playing Poussey Washington in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black and for playing Moira in the Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale, for which she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2018.

Tina Lifford is an American actress and playwright. She is best known for her leading role as single mother Joan Mosley in the critically acclaimed but short-lived Fox comedy-drama series, South Central (1994), and her recurring role as Renee Trussell in the NBC drama series, Parenthood (2010-2015). She has starring roles in the feature films Grand Canyon (1991), Blood Work (2002), and Hostage (2005). In 2016, Lifford began starring as Violet Bordelon in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama series, Queen Sugar.

Dawn-Lyen Gardner is an American actress. She is best known for her leading role in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama series Queen Sugar.


  1. "Correction To Rutina Wesley's Birthday Post". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Williams, Kam (January 20, 2008). "Rutina Wesley "How She Move" Interview with Kam Williams". News Blaze. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 Rochlin, Margy (October 30, 2008). "Flesh and Blood in a Town of Vampires". The New York Times . Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  4. Staff, (2015-02-06). "Rutina Wesley | Biography and Filmography | 1979". Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  5. 1 2 3 Cling, Carol (January 29, 2008). "Las Vegas Academy grad a shooting star". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  6. 1 2 "Spotlight: Training to Act". Back Stage. Nielsen Business Media Inc. January 17, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  7. "Rutina Wesley". Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  8. "Q&A With Rutina Wesley". Alumni News. The Juilliard School. May 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  9. "How She Make a Movie: Rutina Wesley on Auditions, Epsom Salts, and Belief in Self". The Juilliard Journal. The Juilliard School. March 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-03-16. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  10. "Interview with Rutina Wesley". myFanbase. February 19, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  11. "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. May 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  12. Pincus-Roth, Zachary (April 11, 2007). "Public's in Darfur to Star Raffo, Lohr, Washington, Wesley, Jah". Playbill. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  13. Marchand, Philip (January 24, 2008). "'How She Move' shows dance as escape". Toronto Star Inc. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  14. Prudom, Laura. "'Hannibal' Casts Rutina Wesley as 'Red Dragon's' Reba McClane". Variety. Variety. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  15. Otterson, Joe; Sneider, Jeff. "'True Blood' Alum Rutina Wesley in Talks to Join 'Arrow' for Multi-Episode Arc (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  16. "'Arrow' scoop: Get details on Rutina Wesley's role -" . Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  17. Nellie Andreeva. "Rutina Wesley To Star In OWN Drama Series 'Queen Sugar' - Deadline". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  18. "Rutina Wesley Divorcing Jacob Fishel". August 20, 2013.
  19. Gilchrist, Tracy E. (20 November 2017). "True Blood's Rutina Wesley Comes Out in Heartfelt Instagram Engagement Post" . Retrieved 21 November 2017.