She won fans' affection for her role as Bernadine Harris in the 1995 film, Waiting to Exhale, and played Voletta Wallace in Notorious.
She worked as a receptionist in a beauty salon, and earned a B.A. degree from Yale in 1980.
She became known for portraying real life characters in films, including Tina Turner and Betty Shabazz.
She married Courtney B. Vance in 1997, and the couple welcomed twins in 2006.
She was nominated for a BET Award for Best Actress for her role as Rosa Parks in the 2002 film, The Rosa Parks Story.
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