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Obscure Black C-List Actors: CCH Pounder, Lorraine Toussaint, and Lynne Thigpen!

8 December 2007 18 Comments

Maybe it’s just me, but do people in your office accidentally call you by other black employee’s names, even if you’re lightskinned, weigh 250 lbs, and have an afro, and the name you get called belongs to a dark little 115 pound chick with hair down to her shoulders? Although I usually focus on one c-lister at a time, when I decided to feature CCH Pounder I realized that I’d have to point out that she is NOT Lorraine Toussaint, who in turn is NOT the same person as Lynne Thigpen. Not that you thought they were the same person or anything, but hopefully this post will serve as a handy guide to the unfortunate phenomenon of any black actress who is older than Halle Berry but younger than Ruby Dee getting a little lost in the shuffle.

CCH Pounder, who is Guyanese, is arguably a b-lister because she currently appears on The Shield. By her strong delivery and presence, I’m sure you can tell that she has done a great deal of stage work and was classicly trained in Britain. CCH has spent almost 30 of her 55 years playing a professional no-nonsense type – doctor, lawyer, professor – including runs on E.R. and The Practice. My favorite guest spot of her’s was when she played Max’s highly accomplished and exacting mother on Living Single – I happen to know this type of black woman exists (she was like my mom except not as funny or pretty), but they rarely end up on televison.

Lorraine Toussaint, who is Trini, appears mostly on periodical dramas such as Law & Order, CSI, Crossing Jordan, and Saving Grace. I know her best as a “nay-sayer type” from Law and Order, the Colored But Cancelled sitcom Where I Live (soon to be featured on this blog), and Dangerous Minds. She is 47 years old. Is it just me or is always a little off about her hair – I suspect that the pouffiness and lack of scalp showing is because she has dreds under that weave.

Lynne Thigpen, who was born in Illinois and died suudenly at the age of 54 in 2003, is perhaps best remembered as the anti- Joe Clark parent in Lean On Me, Grandma in Blankman, and from Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?. Like many black c-listers, Lynne Thigpen won a Tony award for her stage work. Her last role was on The District (which I watched loyally while living in France even though it wasn’t very good), and it was extra sad when she passed away because they wrote her death into the show. She is my favorite of all of these women.


  • theblackactor.com said:

    CCH Pounder always seems to show up. In fact, I saw her in a movie last night. She was playing a judge. She must work regularly. Good. I don’t know Toussant. I remember Lynn Thigpen from All My Children and other stuff. I was saddened when she passed.

  • Ginneh said:

    Wasn’t Lorraine Toussaint on that lifetime series “Any Day Now”? I used to love that show. She was a lawyer on there and was best friends with the chick from Designing Women. Now she plays some stud lesbian convict on Ugly Betty

  • Invisible Woman said:

    CCH Pounder is a great woman…I had the fortunate experience of having a conversation with her once; she is very wise, and has her head on completely straight (or so it seemed).

  • dara said:

    i love CCH Pounder’s acting, and i love that voice!

    yep, Toussaint played ‘Renee’ on “Any Day Now.” and her best friend was ‘Mary Elizabeth (ME)’ played by Annie Potts. One of my all-time favorite shows.

    although i know Thigpen has played many roles, I always think of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” when i see her face.


  • Malcolm: said:

    I would arguably put all 3 of these actresses in the B-list category. I had forgotten about CCH’s guest shot on “Living Single”.

    I really enjoyed Lorraine’s work on “Any Day Now” (one of the best depictions of race relations in America). You might be right about Lorraine wearing dreads underneath a weave (just as S. Epatha Merkerson did for her “Law and Order” character). If I am not mistaken, Lorraine’s recurring character on “Law and Order” wore dreads.

    Somebody had mentioned Lynne’s role on AMC… I remember her from that as well.

  • justjudith said:

    i loved lynne thigpen. she was also the faceless dj in the warriors!! she was great.

    “warriors come out & play–ee–ay!” or something like that.

  • Ehav Ever said:

    CCH Pounder also did some voice acting work as Amanda Waller on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. Her character was initially a bad person, but became good later.

  • nar said:

    Boy how I loved Lynne on WITWICS! It was so exciting to have a black woman in an educated, take no ish role…this sounds sad, but Michelle Obama reminds me of her. 😀

  • LaJane Galt said:

    Lynne RIP was also the DJ in the Warriors.

    LT kills me on Ugly Betty.

    CCH Pounder & LT did Law & Order from time to time.

  • Ill Mami said:

    It’s funny you placed CC and Lorraine next to each other. They are actually really good friends and cool peoples. Like sisters from another mother.

  • Dub-B said:

    i love CCH pounder but she doesnt hold a candle to S. Epatha Merkerson

  • donny said:

    weren,t they all on law and order? seriously


    I love them all, but Lorraine Toussaint is my girl! Esp watching her on Ugly Betty…as an escaped convict with her lacefront corn rows! it’s hilarious!

  • Mes Deux Cents said:


    I wouldn’t consider CCH Pounder a B-lister. I think her ability and film credits make her a definite A lister. (maybe A minus)

  • Thembi said:

    Im suprised that I have to clarify this, but I guess a lot of people are new to my blog…

    The term “C-lister” or any other lister is NOT a measure of the actor’s actual ability or quality. A-F “List”is simply the way that Hollywood classifies the popularity of people in the industry. I did not make this up, and if anyone wants to offer me a better measure of popularity please be my guest. A-listers are people like Denzel, Brad Pitt, and Halle Berry – acting chops have NOTHING to do with it, its simply a measure of what films are likely to draw an audience. You’ll probably never see Lorraine Toussaint headlining a movie because no one is flocking to the theater for her – which is what makes her c-list. CCH Pounder could rob a bank and dance through the streets of LA nude and it would end up in Yahoo Odd News instead of mentioned on TMZ every 30 minutes like it would be if Paris Hilton did the same thing.

    The whole point of this feature is to highlight people who no one really talks about. Thanks.

    Get it?

  • jazzfan360 said:

    Thigpen was my favorite too. My friends and I LOVED her. Beloved to leagues and leagues of children and now adults as The Chief. Damn, I miss that woman. She was really great on a Gimme a Break! ep where she played Nell’s sister, and she and Nell and Telma Hopkins sang together. Wonderful.

    Pounder is not just on The Shield, it should be noted–she’s a Best Supporting Actress Emmy nominee for The Shield. And man, her as Max’s mother was some of the most brilliantly perfect casting ever. Just PERFECT.

    And speaking of the Emmys, Toussaint deserves a Guest nod for her sidesplitting work on Ugly Betty this season, which even in spite of the leading role on Any Day Now for several years is probably the most high-profile work she’s had. You gotta be pretty good to steal scenes from Judith Light. (Anyone who only knows Light from Who’s the Boss doesn’t know she’s actually one of the finest and most versatile actresses working today.)

  • jazzfan360 said:

    BTW, if you wanna see Pounder WAY out of character, hunt down a bizarre episode of 227 where Mary and Sandra lead a girl scout troup (including baby Countess Vaughn) and Pounder plays a crazy-ass nappyheaded hatchet killer who’s running loose in the woods. (And Vickilyn Reynolds, who deserves to have one of these entries, plays the nutzo ranger who’s mistaken for the killer.)

  • Ezzy said:

    I love Lorraine. She is one of my favorite actress. Making that crack about her hair makes me crazy. Why do we put each other down. In no way do I consider her an obscure C-list actor, as a matter of fact I do not think of any of these ladies has C-list actress. People put others down. I do not think we should. They are black women trying to do their thing and they do it well.

    I use to watch Lynne Thigpen and I thought that she was one of the most hard working people in showbiz. She is severely missed and no one can take her place. She died of cancer.

    CCH Pounder I love to see her act and she improves every movie she is in.

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