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