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Jenifer Lewis is best known for her role as Lana Hawkins, the no-nonsense receptionist who maintains order in the clinic, in Lifetime Television’s hit drama series “Strong Medicine.” Her innate ability to captivate an audience stems from her versatile voice, her bawdy sense of humor and her powerful acting performances honed largely in Broadway hits like Eubie, Comin’ Uptown, Dreamgirls, Rock ‘N Roll! The First 5,000 Years, and Neil Simon’s Promises Promises. It was her tour with Bette Midler as an infamous Harlotte, however, that got Hollywood calling.
Once there, Lewis immediately garnered two NAACP Image Award nominations as Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Tina Turner’s mother, in What’s Love Got to Do With It and in the romantic comedy The Preacher’s Wife. Lewis has appeared in over than 60 feature films, displaying her versatility as both a dramatic actress and comedic star, such as The Antwone Fisher Story, directed by Denzel Washington; Corrina Corrina with Whoopi Goldberg; The Mighty, Renaissance Man, Sister Act and Sister Act II, Dead Presidents, Blast From the Past, The Brothers, Mystery Men, Poetic Justice, and Castaway with Tom Hanks. She has lent her unique and distinctive voice to such smash animated features as Shark Tale and Pixar’s blockbuster hit Cars and appeared as the voice of the 200-year-old wise witch doctor Mamma Odie in Disney’s animated feature film The Princess & The Frog with Oprah Winfrey, Anika Noni Rose, and John Goodman. Her 70+ television show appearances include “The Temptations,” “Friends,” “Touched by an Angel,” “The Cosby Show,” “Murphy Brown,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Boston Legal,” “Shark,” “Girlfriends” and “Courthouse.” It was her role as Jackie Washington in Lifetime’s cult movie Jackie’s Back! however that firmly established her as a “diva” and an icon.
Lewis’ recent stage work includes starring alongside Meryl Streep in Shakespeare in the Park’s summer 2006 production of Mother Courage and her Children and returned to her roots on Broadway in April 2008 to play Motormouth Maybelle in the hit musical Hairspray.
Lewis resides in Los Angeles with her adopted daughter Charmaine and is a relentless supporter and activist to find a cure for breast cancer and HIV/AIDS.