On this day in 1953, actress Alfre Woodard was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In her teens, she discovered her love for acting, and decided to pursue a degree in fine arts and theater from Boston University. After graduating in 1974, Woodard took up improv and shortly after landed a role in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, a stage production by Ntozake Shange.
Following her breakout role, she appeared in two Robert Altman projects, H.E.A.L.T.H. and Remember my Name. In 1983, her spectacular performance in the police drama Hill Street Blues won her an Emmy Award. Shortly thereafter, she appeared in Cross Creek, winning a nomination for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award.
Her big-screen projects include Love and Basketball (2000), The Forgotton (2004), Beauty Shop (2005), and The Family that Preys (2008). She’s done much narration and voice-over work as well throughout her career.
In 2012, Woodard was part of the ensemble cast of Steel Magnolias, a Lifetime movie, for which she received an Emmy nomination. Her most famous television series include The Last Ship, State of Affair, and Cooper.
As of 2014, Woodard has received 17 Emmy nominations. Of these, she has won four, most notably for her role in HBO’s Miss Evers’ Boys as Nurse Eunice Rivers.
Additionally, Woodard is one of the founders of a group called Artists for a Free South Africa, a charity that promotes social and political equality while fighting the AIDS epidemic as well.