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Lela Rochon (born Lela Rochon Staples; April 17, 1964)[1] is an American actress, best known for her breakthrough role as Robin Stokes in the 1995 romantic drama film Waiting to Exhale.[2] She also had starring roles in films The Chamber (1996), Gang Related (1997), Knock Off (1998), Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998), and Any Given Sunday (1999).

Lela Rochon
Lela Rochon 1998.jpg
Rochon at the 1998 New York City Essence Awards
Lela Rochon Staples

(1964-04-17) April 17, 1964 (age 55)
EducationCerritos High School
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Years active1984–present
Home townLos Angeles, California
Adolfo Quiñones
(m. 1982; div. 1987)

Antoine Fuqua (m. 1999)


Early lifeEdit

Rochon was born in Los Angeles County, California,[1] the daughter of Zelma, a nurse practitioner, and Samuel Staples, a business owner and graphic artist.[3] She graduated from Cerritos High School in Cerritos, California. She attended California State University, Dominguez Hills where she earned a BA in Broadcast Journalism, with minors in Sociology and Theatre.[4] In 2016, Rochon returned to give the commencement speech at California State University, Dominguez Hills.[5]


Early worksEdit

In 1982, Rochon appeared as an extra in the movie Breakin’, where she met the man who would later become her husband. From 1986 to 1988, while attending college, Rochon was one of the "Spudettes" featured in over 30 national spots for the Spuds MacKenzie Budweiser/Bud Light TV commercials. She also appeared in the 1985 made-for-television film A Bunny's Tale starring Kirstie Alley and Delta Burke, based on Gloria Steinem's experiences as a Playboy Bunny. She appeared as the love interest of Gerald Levert in the video for "My Forever Love" by Levert,[6] and in Luther Vandross' "It's Over Now" video. She also appeared in the music video for Lionel Richie's single "All Night Long (All Night)", in Al B. Sure's video for the song "Natalie",[7] and in Tupac Shakur's video "I Get Around" as one of the female dancers. She had many guest starring roles in a number of sitcoms, include The Cosby Show, Amen, 227, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper.

Rochon made her film debut in 1985, when she starred opposite Fred Williamson in Fox Trap. In 1987, she played the role of Debby in the film The Wild Pair, starring Beau Bridges and Bubba Smith. In 1989, Rochon acted opposite Eddie Murphy in 1989's Harlem Nights, as the memorable "Sunshine" character. She again worked with Murphy in the successful 1992 romantic comedy, Boomerang. In 1995, she was regular cast member during the first season of The WB sitcom, The Wayans Bros.[8]


Rochon in 2010

In 1995, Rochon landed one of the lead roles opposite Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine in the adaptation of the Terry McMillan novel and highly successful drama film Waiting to Exhale. She played the character Robin Stokes, for which she was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. Rochon was chosen by People magazine as one of the "50 most beautiful people in the world" in 1996.[9]

In 1996, Rochon starred opposite Timothy Hutton in the Showtime cable network film Mr. and Mrs. Loving, receiving a Cable Ace Award nomination for Best Actress. Later that year, she played the female lead in the crime thriller film The Chamber. The following year, she starred alongside Jim Belushi and Tupac Shakur in the crime thriller Gang Related. In 1998, Rochon had the leading role alongside Halle Berry and Vivica A. Fox in the romantic drama Why Do Fools Fall in Love, and well starred in Knock Off with Jean-Claude Van Damme, and The Big Hit, as love interest to Mark Wahlberg's leading character. In 1999, she appeared in Any Given Sunday directed by Oliver Stone. In 2001, Rochon made her return to television with one of leading roles alongside Bonnie Bedelia, Nancy McKeon, Tracey Needham, and Lisa Vidal in the Lifetime crime drama series, The Division. She left the series after a single season.[10]


In 2004, Rochon co-starred opposite Katie Holmes in the romantic comedy film First Daughter.[10] In 2009, she had cameo in crime drama Brooklyn's Finest directed by her husband, Antoine Fuqua.[10] In 2013, she played one of leading roles in Regina King's directorial debut Let The Church Say Amen, the film adaptation of ReShonda Tate Billingsley's 2005 novel for BET.[11] She later had roles in films Supremacy (2014) with Danny Glover and Derek Luke, and Reversion (2015), playing Aja Naomi King's character's mother.[12][13][14] In 2017, she had a recurring role in the CBS crime drama series Training Day, and in 2019 on the Oprah Winfrey Network drama David Makes Man.[15]

Personal lifeEdit

Rochon was married to actor Shabba Doo from 1982 to 1987. In 1999, she married film director Antoine Fuqua. Together, they have two children, Asia and Brando.



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Breakin' Extra Uncredited
1984 Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo Dancer
1985 A Bunny's Tale Charlotte Television film
1986 Foxtrap Lindy
1986 Stewardess School School Instructor
1987 The Wild Pair Debby
1987 Into the Homeland Exquisite Woman
1989 Harlem Nights Sunshine
1991 Extralarge: Black and White Wendy
1992 Boomerang Christie
1993 The Meteor Man Vanessa
1995 Waiting to Exhale Robin Stokes Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1996 Mr. and Mrs. Loving Mildred Loving Television film
Nominated — CableACE Award for Outstanding Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
1996 The Chamber Nora Stark
1997 Gang Related Cynthia Webb
1997 Legal Deceit Sydney Banks
1998 Ruby Bridges Lucielle 'Lucy' Bridges Television film
1998 The Big Hit Chantel
1998 Knock Off Karen Lee
1998 Why Do Fools Fall in Love Emira Eagle
1999 Any Given Sunday Vanessa Struthers
1999 The Charlotte Austin Story Charlotte Austin Also executive producer
2000 Labor Pains Lulu Brown
2004 First Daughter Liz Pappas
2006 Running Out of Time in Hollywood
2009 Balancing the Books Sharlene Also executive producer
2009 Brooklyn's Finest Investigator Cameo
2010 Blood Done Sign My Name Roseanna Allen
2013 Let the Church Say Amen Loretta Jackson Television film
2014 Supremacy Odessa
2015 Reversion Maya


Year Title Role Notes
1987 The Facts of Life Diana Episode: "The Greek Connection"
1987 The Cosby Show Veronica Episode: "The Shower"
1988 Amen Young Bride Episode: "Wedding Bell Blues"
1990 21 Jump Street Denise Price Episode: "Change of Heart"
1990 227 Leslie Episode: "Gone Fishing"
1990 1st & Ten Joy Brock Episode: "Don't Powerburst My Bubble"
1991 Generations Brandy Alexander Recurring role
1991 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Cindy Episode: "Will Gets a Job"
1992 Homefront Mary Louise Episode: "At Your Age"
1992 Roc Carol Episode: "Roc Throws Joey Out"
1992 Tales from the Crypt Mercedes Episode: "Werewolf Concerto"
1993 Out All Night Victoria Episode: "Mall in the Family"
1993 The Sinbad Show Denise Episode: "Pilot"
1994 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper Denise Episode: "The Courtship of Mark Cooper"
1995 The Wayans Bros. Lisa Series regular, 13 episodes
1997 The Outer Limits Beth Carter Episode: "The Awakening"
2001 The Division Inspector Angela Reide Series regular, 22 episodes
2011 Reed Between the Lines Sherri Episode: "Let's Talk About Affairs"
2017 Training Day Mrs. Craig Recurring role, 3 episodes
2018 Alone Together Rose Episode: "Dinner Party"
2019 David Makes Man Alma Recurring role


  1. ^ a b "The Birth of Lela Staples". California Birth Index. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "Angela Bassett Reaches a Stellar Groove at Last". The Los Angeles Times. 1996-03-30. Retrieved 2010-12-22.
  3. ^ Lela Rochon Biography (1964?-). Retrieved on 2012-06-12.
  4. ^ Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 1998. ISSN 0021-5996.
  5. ^ "2016 Graduates Relish in the 'Words' and Draw from the 'Wisdom' Shared by Keynote Speakers During 5 Commencement Ceremonies" (Press release). California State University, Dominguez Hills. May 25, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  6. ^ Levert. "My Forever Love". music video. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  7. ^ Sure!, Al B. "Natalie". music video. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
  8. ^ Tony Scott. "The Wayans Bros". Variety. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Lela Rochon". Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c "Lela Rochon". Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  11. ^ Tambay A. Obenson (14 September 2012). "Steve Harris, Naturi Naughton, Lela Rochon Headline Regin - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  12. ^ Tambay A. Obenson (26 June 2014). "Deon Taylor's Racially-Charged Thriller 'Supremacy' Picke - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  13. ^ Dave McNary. "Danny Glover Supremacy U.S. Distribution - Variety". Variety. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  14. ^ Tambay A. Obenson (18 September 2015). "EXCLUSIVE Trailer & Poster: Aja Naomi King Headlines Sci- - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  15. ^ Petski, Denise; Petski, Denise (25 October 2018). "OWN's 'David Makes Man' Adds Ten To Cast". Retrieved 20 March 2019.

External linksEdit