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Fresh Black Girls: Loretta Devine!

13 November 2008 8 Comments

One of the most coveted natural talents is the gift of a dictinctive voice, and Loretta Devine’s high-pitched, breathy voice has just that kind of distinction I wish I was born with. She got her start in Broadway musicals, most notably originating the role of Lorell in Dreamgirls alongside Sheryl Lee Ralph and Jennifer Holiday. Her first major television role was as dorm directer Stevie Hallen on A Different World, a role that went to Mary Alice after Lisa Bonet left the show in 1988. It’s hard to believe that aside from starring in two Colored But Canceled sitcoms – Heart & Soul and Sugar & Spice – Loretta Devine didn’t play a major character on-screen until 1995’s Waiting To Exhale. Was I the only person who read this book and imagined Loretta Devine playing Gloria before she was even cast? She parlayed this mainstream success into roles on Boston Public and Greys Anatomy, while continuing to pursue more earthy roles in Down In The Delta (I loved her in this!) and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Loretta Devine has consistently played the same type of black woman – a little bigger, a little sassier, a little bit vulnerable, and always ready to cut her eyes at something. I don’t like to call it typecasting, I’d rather say that she has a niche. Above all else, from The PJs to Beverly Hills Chihuahua, you must need to clean your ears out if you don’t recognize that unmistakable voice! She is a Fresh Black Girl worth admiring!

h/t Afrobella for that Ebony cover photo!

8 Comments »

  • Bonnie said:

    I LOVE HER! She is one of my favorite under-rated actresses…

  • Phil said:

    I actually thought about this yesterday when I watched “Hoodlum” on DVD. She did her thing in that.

  • jazzfan360 said:

    Ha! I thought I was the only person in the universe who remembered Sugar & Spice. That was the first place I saw Vickilynn Reynolds (who went on to do other random things like that bitchy woman in Polly! and Smokey's mama in Friday), Stephanie Hodge (best known for Nurses and as the mom who left Unhappily Ever After cause she got overshadowed by the daughter), and little Leslie Jordan (who of course later won an Emmy for his great work on Will & Grace). That was back before the weight gain, when TV was trying to push Loretta as The Next Jackee. I think gaining weight did wonders for her career, though, because it gave her a niche that's much more timeless. She spoke for millions of black women in W2E. (I can't stand that movie, but she and Angela Bassett were just fantastic. "He's watchin' me walk away!" God, I love it lol.)

    I am here to tell you this woman was robbed of at LEAST two Emmys for her stellar work on Boston Public. She worked that mess ALL the way out–what a truly GREAT performance. That show was so roundly screwed over by the TV Academy anyway, though, and don't even get me started on Chi McBride…

    Meanwhile, I *know* they didn't leave Jennifer Holliday up off that Ebony cover. You wanna talk about heinous…

    But for real. You picked a really deserving subject. Great entry.

  • Dub-B said:

    She acted her ass off in Boston Public….she was amazing in that role.

  • bklyn6 said:

    from The PJs to Beverly Hills Chihuahua, you must need to clean your ears out if you don’t recognize that unmistakable voice!

    Exactly. Loved her as the voice of Muriel Stubbs on “The PJs.”

  • Tafari said:

    I actually think she has a sexy voice. On the phone I bet she could be one hot cougar!!!

    Tafari

  • Julian said:

    I loved her in Beverly Hills Chihuahua

  • Just Marlon said:

    Love her in “Eli Stone”…she steals every scene she’s in.

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