Loretta Devine

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Loretta Devine
Born (1949-08-21) August 21, 1949 (age 73)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Houston (BA)
Brandeis University (MFA)
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1977–present
Glenn Marshall
(m. 2001)
AwardsFull list

Loretta Devine (born August 21, 1949) is an American actress, singer and voice actor. She 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[edit]

Loretta Devine was born in Houston, Texas, on August 21, 1949.[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.[citation needed]


Stage work[edit]

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[edit]

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 voiced the character Hallie, on the Disney Junior series 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 canceled after two seasons.[10] Devine also played Cynthia Carmichael on the NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show.[11][12] Devine currently stars on the Netflix series, Family Reunion, with Richard Roundtree and Tia Mowry-Hardrict.



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Will Will's Wife
1983 Anna to the Infinite Power Ms. Everett Benson
1988 Little Nikita Verna McLaughlin
Sticky Fingers Diane Cooley
1990 Stanley & Iris Bertha Simmons
1991 Caged Fear Judy
Livin' Large Nadine Biggs
1992 Class Act Ms. Brown
1993 Amos & Andrew Ula
1994 The Hard Truth Rose Maxwell
1995 Waiting to Exhale Gloria Matthews
1996 The Preacher's Wife Beverly
1997 The Price of Kissing Jackee Blaine
Hoodlum Pigfoot Mary
Lover Girl Leticia
1998 Love Kills Sylvia Finkelstein
Down in the Delta Zenia
Urban Legend Reese Wilson
Operation Splitsville Principal
Alyson's Closet Raul's Mother (voice) Short
1999 Funny Valentines Dearie B.
The Breaks Floria
Lillie Michelle
2000 Punks Aretha Stone
Urban Legends: Final Cut Reese Wilson
What Women Want Florence "Flo" Glover
2001 Kingdom Come Marguerite Slocumb
I Am Sam Margaret Calgrove
2002 Book of Love: The Definitive Reason Why Men Are Dogs Mary Baker
Baby of the Family Delores Evans
2004 Woman Thou Art Loosed Cassey Jordan
Crash Shaniqua Johnson
2005 King's Ransom Miss Gladys
2006 Dirty Laundry Evelyn
Dreamgirls Gladys Brooks
2007 Cougar Club Dolly
This Christmas Shirley Ann "Ma'Dere" Whitfield
2008 First Sunday Sister Doris
Beverly Hills Chihuahua Delta (voice)
2009 Spring Breakdown Dr. Marguerite Tyson
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? Miss Willheima Roberts
2010 Death at a Funeral Cynthia
Lottery Ticket Grandma Dorothy Carson
For Colored Girls Juanita Sims / Green
Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 Delta (voice) Video
2011 Madea's Big Happy Family Shirley
Jumping the Broom Pamela Taylor
Politics of Love Shirlee Gupta
2012 In the Hive Mrs. Inez
2013 The Get Away Ms. Crawford Short
Khumba Mama Veronica aka Mama V (voice)
A Very Larry Christmas Mrs. Claus
2014 Comeback Dad Malinda
Welcome to Me Barb Vaughn
The Sound and the Fury Dilsey
You're Not You Marilyn Jo
2015 Back to School mother Meghan Graham
1440 and Counting Mrs. Nickel Short
For the Love of Ruth Naomi
2016 Norm of the North Tamecia (voice)
Caged No More Aggie James
Grandma's House Grandma Margie
36 Hour Layover Mrs. Carey
2017 My Other Home Mabel Marbury
Naked Carol
Violets Marcy Short
2018 Sierra Burgess Is a Loser Ms. April Thomson
2019 The Trap Mama Jay
First Day Back Superintendent Lola Greene Short
Postmarked Hattie Short
2020 The Last Starship Dorothy Short
Spell Eloise
Always and Forever Elda
The McHenry Trial – Don't Judge a Kid by Their Hoodie Doris McHenry Short
2021 Queen Bees Sally Heart
The Starling Velma
Christmas Déjà Vu -
2022 Mack & Rita Sharon


Year Title Role Notes
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Cheryl Episode: "Sirens"
1987–88 A Different World Stevie Rallen Main cast (season 1)
1988 The Murder of Mary Phagan Annie Maude Carter Episode: "Episode #1.1 & #1.2"
Amen Lydia Cummings Episode: "Court of Love"
1989 Parent Trap III Thelma Pardrige TV movie
Heart and Soul Tonia Harris TV movie
1990 Murphy Brown Nurse Diana Hawking Episode: "The Bitch's Back"
Sugar and Spice Loretta Fontaine Main cast
Cop Rock Juror Devine Episode: "Marital Blitz" & "No Noose Is Good Noose"
1991 Great Performances Janine Wills Episode: "The Colored Museum"
Reasonable Doubts Valerie Hall Episode: "Hard Bargains"
1992 Love & War Donna Episode: "For John"
1992–93 Roc Cynthia Raine Recurring cast (season 2)
1993 Out All Night Crystal Episode: "The Way We Were"
The American Clock Irene Mack Shaw TV movie
Family Album June Episode: "Salon, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehn, Goodbye"
1995 Picket Fences Marla Melrose Episode: "Close Encounters"
Ned and Stacey Mrs. Sally Duncan Episode: "Reality Check"
1996 Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault Miss Mary Johnson TV movie
1997 Touched by an Angel Tonya Hawkins Episode: "Amazing Grace: Part 1"
Promised Land Tonya Hawkins Episode: "Amazing Grace: Part 2"
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Mother (voice) Episode: "The Golden Goose"
Clover Everleen Moore TV movie
Don King: Only in America Connie Harper TV movie
1999 Moesha Gwen "Stephanie" "Steph" Watkins Episode: "It Takes Two"
Clueless Phyllis Holiday Episode: "Graduation"
Jackie's Back Snookie Tate TV movie
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge Ruby Dandridge TV movie
1999–2001 The PJs Muriel Stubbs (née Warren) (voice) Main cast
2000 Freedom Song Evelyn Walker TV movie
Best Actress Connie Travers TV movie
Family Law Gloria Rivers Episode: "Playing God"
Ally McBeal Nora Mills Episode: "I Will Survive"
2000–04 Boston Public Marla Hendricks Main cast
2003 Half & Half Erika Duke Episode: "The Big Phat Mouth Episode: Part 1 & 2"
2004–05 Wild Card M. Pearl McGuire Main cast (season 2)
2005–06 Girlfriends Judge Vashti Jackson Episode: "Trial and Errors" & "...Ain't Nothing Over There"
2005–13 Grey's Anatomy Adele Webber Recurring cast (season 2-4 & 7-8), guest (season 5-6 & 9)
2005–17 Supernatural Missouri Moseley 2 episodes
2006 Boston Legal Annabelle Carruthers Episode: "The Nutcrackers"
Life Is Not a Fairy Tale Addie Collins TV movie
2006–07 Everybody Hates Chris Maxine Rock Guest (season 1), Recurring cast (season 2)
2007 Boston Legal Judge Victoria Thomson Episode: "Oral Contracts"
2008–09 Eli Stone Patti Dellacroix Main cast
2009 Cold Case Chandra Patterson '09 Episode: "Soul"
Legally Mad Jeanette Woods Unaired pilot[13]
2010 Party Down Diane Ellison Episode: "James Ellison Funeral"
2011 Glee Sister Mary Constance Episode: "Original Song"
State of Georgia Honey Dupree Main cast
2012 Shake It Up Judge Marsha Elliott Episode: "Judge It Up"
The Game Grandma Donna Mack Episode: "There's No Place Like Home"
The Cleveland Show Shirley (voice) Episode: "Mama Drama"
RuPaul's Drag Race Herself Episode: "Snatch Game"
2012–13 The Client List Georgia Cummings-Clemens Main cast
2012–20 Doc McStuffins Hallie Hippo/Nurse Hattie (voice) Main cast
2013 Teachers Doris TV movie
2014 Psych Melba Birdson Episode: "1967: A Psych Odyssey"
Sullivan & Son Rose Episode: "Hank Goes Black"
Turbo Fast Lydia Episode: "Zoo Lander/Balloonatics"
2014–15 Sirens Rosemary St. Claire Recurring cast (season 1), guest (season 2)
2015 Being Mary Jane CeCe Robinson Recurring cast (season 3)
2015–17 The Carmichael Show Cynthia Carmichael Main cast
2016 Nubbin & Friends Mrs. Sandy Johnson Episode: "The Letter "A""
2017 The Lost Souls Cafe Geneva TV movie
2018 Behind the Movement Jo Ann Robinson TV movie
Dear White People Sorbet Episode: "Volume 2: Chapter VII"
Living Biblically Estelle Williams Episode: "Never Let Loyalty Love You"
Love Is Rose Marie Recurring cast
Jingle Belle Emory Simons TV movie
2019 A Black Lady Sketch Show Pastor Rosetta Daniels Episode: "Your Boss Knows You Don't Have Eyebrows"
Black-ish Lynette Mae Recurring cast (season 6)
A Sweet Christmas Romance Mrs. Rose TV movie
2019–22 Family Reunion M'Dear Main cast
2020 Cherish the Day Herself Episode: "Catharsis"
Game On: A Comedy Crossover Event Amelia 'M'Dear' McKellan Episode: "Family Reunion: Remember the Family's Feud?"
Connecting Dayleen Episode: "Day 82" & "Day 90"
2020–22 P-Valley Earnestine Recurring cast
2021 Teenage Euthanasia God (voice) Episode: "First Date with the Second Coming"
Christmas in Harmony Mama TV movie
2021–22 The Loud House Gayle McBride (voice) 4 episodes
2022 Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem Angela Main cast (season 2)
RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race Herself/Fabulosity Episode: "I'm Coming Out: First Time in Drag!"
Eureka! Wanda (voice) 2 episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2015 King's Quest Muriel Hobblepot (voice)

Stage appearances[edit]

  • Minister, Godsong, La MaMa E.T.C., New York City, 1978
  • (Broadway debut) Dionne, Hair (revival), Biltmore Theatre, 1977
  • Soloist, Langston Hughes, AMAS Repertory Theatre, 1977
  • Title role, Karma, Richard Allen Center, New York City, 1977
  • Gloria, Verandah, New Dramatists, 1977
  • Soloists, Seasons Reasons, Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, New York City, 1977
  • Yenta lady, A Broadway Musical, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, New York City, 1978
  • Loretta, Miss Truth, Apollo Theatre, New York City, 1978
  • Bones, Circle in the Square Theatre, New York City, 1978
  • Glinda the Good Witch of the South, The Wiz, Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, 1978
  • Virtue, The Blacks, Richard Allen Center, New York City, 1978
  • Young Mary, Comin' Uptown, Winter Garden Theatre, New York City, 1979
  • Jewel, Lion and the Jewel, Lincoln Center, New York City, 1980
  • Precious, Dementos, City Center, New York City, 1980
  • Lorell Robinson, Dreamgirls, Imperial Theatre, New York City, 1981
  • The Casting of Kevin Christian, Shepherd Street Art Gallery, 1983
  • Mermaid, Gotta Getaway!, Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1984
  • Janeen Earl-Taylor, Long Time Since Yesterday, Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, New York City, 1985
  • Lilly, Big Deal, Broadway Theater, New York City, 1986
  • Lala, Wigs, and model, The Colored Museum, Public Theaters/Susan Stein Shiva Theater, New York City, 1986
  • Delia, Spunk, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1990
  • Billie Holiday, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, CA, then Little Theatre, Phoenix, AZ, 1991
  • Holly Day, Rabbit Foot, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Los Angeles, 1991
  • Charlesetta, East Texas Hot Links, The Met, Los Angeles, 1991
  • Soloist, Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein Tribute, Embassy Theatre, 1991
  • Soloist, Big Moments on Broadway, Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington, DC, 1991
  • Glinda The Good Witch of The South, The Wiz, Apollo Revival, 1995
  • Also appeared as Cissy, Woman from the Town and in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Hot Mikado in 1990.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Title Outcome
1996 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Waiting to Exhale Won
1997 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture The Preacher's Wife Won
2001 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Boston Public Won
NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Freedom Song Won
2002 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Kingdom Come Nominated
2003 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Boston Public Won
Satellite Awards Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Television Series Boston Public Nominated
2004 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Boston Public Won
2005 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Woman Thou Art Loosed Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female Woman Thou Art Loosed Nominated
2007 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Life Is Not a Fairy Tale Nominated
2008 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture This Christmas Nominated
2009 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Eli Stone Nominated
2011 Primetime Emmy Awards Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Grey's Anatomy Won
2012 Gracie Allen Awards Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role Grey's Anatomy Won
NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Grey's Anatomy Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Grey's Anatomy Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series Grey's Anatomy Nominated
2013 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Grey's Anatomy Won
2022 Children's and Family Emmy Awards Children's and Family Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Performance Family Reunion Pending

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McCann, Bob (2009). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-7864-5804-2.
  2. ^ Loewenstein, Melinda (August 19, 2011). "Emmy Nominee Loretta Devine Reflects on a Divine Career". Backstage. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Kelly, Chris (February 26, 2013). "Devine Calling". Modern Luxury – Houston. Retrieved August 5, 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 August 5, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Smiley, Tavis (May 4, 2011). "Actress Loretta Devine" (Video interview). Tavis Smiley. PBS. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Oxendine, Alece (July 31, 2013). "Remembering Jessie Maple And Her Landmark 1981 Feature-Length Film, 'Will'". Indie Wire. indiewire.com. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  7. ^ Braxton, Greg (April 17, 2008). "Devine counts many blessings". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  8. ^ "| Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". Emmys.com. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  9. ^ "2012 Gracie Awards". thegracies.org. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  10. ^ "The Client List: canceled, no season three | canceled + renewed TV shows". TV Series Finale. November 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  11. ^ Wells, Veronica (August 25, 2015). "Loretta Devine Talks New Show, Waiting To Exhale & More". MadameNoire. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  12. ^ Raqiyah, Mays (August 26, 2015). "Loretta Devine Tackles Topical Comedy on 'The Carmichael Show' [Interview]". Ebony. Retrieved August 5, 2016..
  13. ^ Schneider, Michael (May 11, 2009). "NBC passing on 'Legally Mad'". Variety. Retrieved December 28, 2019.

External links[edit]