Birthplace: New York City
This Yale-educated actress starred in August Wilson plays on Broadway before making her move to films with leading roles in Boyz in the Hood (1991) and Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992), in which she played Betty Shabazz opposite Denzel Washington. She did not receive widespread recognition, however, before her breakthrough role as Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress and was nominated for an Oscar. She played leading roles in both of Terry McMillan's novels-turned-movies, Waiting to Exhale (1995) and How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998) and appeared in Music of the Heart (1999). In 2002 she portrayed Rosa Parks in the television movie The Rosa Parks Story and also starred in John Sayles's Sunshine State. She played CIA Director Hayden Chase in TV's Alias (2005), starred in 2006's Akeelah and the Bee, is the voice of Mildred in Meet the Robinsons (2007), and is scheduled to costar with Don Cheadle in the Danny Glover-helmed biopic Toussaint about Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture. She is married to actor Courtney B. Vance.