Loretta Devine

Loretta Devine (born August 21, 1949)[1] is an American actress and singer.

Loretta Devine
Devine in December 2010
Born (1949-08-21) August 21, 1949 (age 71)
EducationUniversity of Houston (1971, BA)
Brandeis University (1976, MFA)
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1977–present
Glenn Marshall
(m. 2001)

Devine is known for numerous roles across stage, television and film. Her most high profile roles include Lorrell Robinson in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, the long-suffering Gloria Matthews in the film Waiting to Exhale, and her recurring role as Adele Webber on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2011.

Early lifeEdit

Loretta Devine was born in Houston, Texas. Her mother, Eunice O'Neal (née Toliver), was a beautician, and her father, James Devine, worked as a laborer.[1] She grew up in the Acres Homes area of Houston, where her mother was a single mother to six children.[2] She was very active on the pep squad, and performed in talent shows at George Washington Carver High School.[3]

In 1971, Devine graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Drama.[3] In 1976, she received a Master of Fine Arts in Theater from Brandeis University.[4]

She was initiated into the Epsilon Lambda Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha.


Stage workEdit

Devine has worked extensively on Broadway. Her Broadway debut was in 1978 in a musical called A Broadway Musical, which closed after 14 previews and only one performance on December 21, 1978. She captured attention in her second Broadway show, called Comin' Uptown, which featured Gregory Hines.[5]

She rose to stardom in Dreamgirls, a smash 1981 Broadway musical loosely based on the history of The Supremes, in which she originated the role of Lorrell Robinson (a fictional character based on Mary Wilson). The story of Dreamgirls was created during workshops that were carried out in six-week workshops over the period of three years, which Devine, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Jennifer Holliday developed via improv.[5] She also received raves in the 1995 Apollo revival of The Wiz as Glinda the Good Witch of the South.


While rehearsing for Dreamgirls with a little girl in 1981, Devine was cast in Jessie Maple's Will, the first independent feature-length film directed by an African-American woman.[6] For her featured role in the low-budget film, Devine earned $500.[6]

Minor roles for Devine followed in films such as Little Nikita and Stanley & Iris. She has a cameo performance in the film version of Dreamgirls.

In 1995, she landed a major role as Gloria Matthews in Waiting to Exhale, opposite Whitney Houston, Gregory Hines, and Angela Bassett. The role earned her an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, as did her next movie, The Preacher's Wife, her second movie with Houston and Hines. She later co-starred opposite Alfre Woodard in Down in the Delta (1998) and Funny Valentines (1999).

Television and continued film successesEdit

Devine played roles as a repertory character in the play The Colored Museum with Vickilyn Reynolds. Devine and Reynolds both went on to play sisters in the short-lived TV series Sugar and Spice. During the period between the play and the series, Devine appeared in the first season of the TV series A Different World as Stevie Rallen, a dormitory director at the fictional Hillman College.

From 2000 to 2004, Devine starred as high school teacher Marla Hendricks on the Fox drama series Boston Public. Devine won three more Image Awards for her work in the series. She also continued to work in film, playing prominent roles in Urban Legend, Urban Legends: Final Cut, and I Am Sam. Devine earned yet another Image Award nomination and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her work in the 2004 film Woman Thou Art Loosed. She also appeared in the 2005 film Crash. In 2007, she appeared in This Christmas, and in the next year had a series regular role on the ABC comedy-drama Eli Stone. Devine also was part of the ensemble casts of two Tyler Perry-directed films For Colored Girls and Madea's Big Happy Family. In 2008, she was featured prominently on George Michael's remake of "Feeling Good." She also appeared in First Sunday, Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Jumping the Broom. [5]

Devine had a recurring role in the Shonda Rhimes drama series Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Richard Webber's wife, Adele.[7] In 2011 she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her performance. She was nominated for a second time for her performance in 2012.[8] Devine also won Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Female Actor in a Feature Role for Grey's Anatomy in 2012.[9]

In 2011, she also starred on the short-lived ABC Family comedy State of Georgia. In 2012, she was part of Being Mary Jane cast. She also played Hallie, a nurse, on Playhouse Disney's Doc McStuffins. Later that year she began starring in the Lifetime series The Client List, playing the role of Georgia Cummings, the owner of the massage parlor where the lead character Riley Parks works. The series was cancelled after two seasons.[10] Devine also played Cynthia Carmichael on the NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show.[11][12]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Will
1983 Anna to the Infinite Power Ms. Everett Benson
1988 Little Nikita Verna McLaughlin
1988 Sticky Fingers Diane Cooley
1989 Heart and Soul Tonia Harris Short film
1990 Stanley & Iris Bertha Simmons
1990 Sugar and Spice Loretta Fontaine
1990 Cop Rock Juror Devine
1991 Livin' Large Nadine Biggs
1992 Caged Fear Judy Jane
1992 Class Act Myrna
1993 Amos & Andrew Ula
1994 The Hard Truth Rose Maxwell
1995 Waiting to Exhale Gloria Matthews NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1996 The Preacher's Wife Beverly NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1997 The Price of Kissing Jackee Blaine
1997 Hoodlum Pigfoot Mary
1997 Lover Girl Leticia
1998 Urban Legend Reese Wilson
1998 Down in the Delta Zenia
1999 Lillie Michelle Collins
1999 Operation Splitsville Principal Edna Fields
1999 Funny Valentines Dearie B.
1999 The Breaks Floria
2000 Punks Aretha Stone
2000 Urban Legends: Final Cut Reese Wilson
2000 What Women Want Florence "Flo" Glover
2001 Kingdom Come Marguerite Slocumb Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2001 I Am Sam Margaret Calgrove
2002 Baby of the Family Delores Evans
2002 Book of Love Mary Baker
2003 Zoe Busiek: Wild Card Marie Bookerson
2004 Woman Thou Art Loosed Cassey Jordan Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2004 Crash Shaniqua Johnson Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress
2005 King's Ransom Miss Gladys
2006 Dirty Laundry Evelyn
2006 Dreamgirls Gladys Brooks
2007 Cougar Club Dolly
2007 This Christmas Shirley Ann "Ma'Dere" Whitfield Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2008 First Sunday Sister Doris
2008 Beverly Hills Chihuahua Delta (voice)
2008 Spring Breakdown Dr. Marguerite Tyson
2009 My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? Miss Willheima Roberts
2010 Death at a Funeral Cynthia
2010 Lottery Ticket Grandma Dorothy Carson
2010 For Colored Girls Juanita Sims / Green
2010 Politics of Love Shirlee Gupta
2011 Jumping the Broom Pamela Taylor
2011 Madea's Big Happy Family Shirley
2013 Khumba Mama Veronica aka Mama V (voice)
2014 Comeback Dad Malinda
2014 You're Not You Marilyn Jo
2015 Welcome to Me Mary the Lawyer
2016 Norm of the North Tamecia (voice)
2016 Caged No More Aggie James
2016 Grandma’s House Grandma Margie
2016 No Regrets Mrs. Carey
2017 My Other Home Mabel Marbury
2017 Naked Carol
2018 Sierra Burgess Is a Loser Ms. April Thomson
2018 Jingle Belle Emory Simons
2019 The Trap Mama Jay
2019 A Family Reunion Christmas M'Dear Netflix film
2020 Spell Eloise
2021 HeadShop Jeanette Bergason Post-production
2021 Queen Bees Sally Heart Post-production
TBA The Starling Post-production
TBA Mack & Rita Sharon Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Cheryl Episode: "Sirens"
1987–1988 A Different World Stevie Rallen 10 episodes
1988 The Murder of Mary Phagan Annie Maude Carter Television film
1988 Amen Lydia Cummings Episode: "Court of Love"
1989 Parent Trap III Thelma Pardrige Television film
1990 Murphy Brown Nurse Diana Hawking Episode: "The Bitch's Back"
1991 Great Performances Janine Wills Episode: "The Colored Museum"
1991 Reasonable Doubts Valerie Hall Episode: "Hard Bargains"
1992–1993 Roc Cynthia Raine 5 episodes
1993 The American Clock Irene Mack Shaw Television film
1995 Picket Fences Marla Melrose Episode: "Close Encounters"
1995 Ned and Stacey Mrs. Sally Duncan Episode: "Reality Check"
1996 Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault Miss Mary Johnson Television film
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child The Mother Episode: "The Golden Goose"
1997 Touched by an Angel Tonya Hawkins Episode: "Amazing Grace: Part 1"
1997 Promised Land Tonya Hawkins Episode: "Amazing Grace: Part 2"
1997 Clover Everleen Moore Television film
1997 Don King: Only in America Connie Harper Television film
1999–2002 The PJs Muriel Stubbs (voice) 43 episodes
1999 Moesha Gwen "Stephanie" "Steph" Watkins Episode: "It Takes Two"
1999 Clueless Phyllis Holiday Episode: "Graduation"
1999 Funny Valentines Dearie B. Television film
1999 Jackie's Back Snookie Tate Television film
1999 Introducing Dorothy Dandridge Ruby Dandridge Television film
2000–2004 Boston Public Marla Hendricks 81 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2001, 2003–04)
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Television Series (2003–04)
2000 Family Law Gloria Rivers Episode: "Playing God"
2000 Ally McBeal Nora Mills Episode: "I Will Survive"
2000 Freedom Song Evelyn Walker Television film
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
2000 Best Actress Connie Travers Television film
2003 The System Mrs. Marsha Waters Unsold TV pilot
2003 Half & Half Erika Duke 2 episodes
2004–2005 Wild Card M. Pearl McGuire 19 episodes
2005–2013 Grey's Anatomy Adele Webber 22 episodes
Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2005, 2017 Supernatural Missouri Moseley 2 episodes
2005–2006 Girlfriends Judge Vashti Jackson 2 episodes
2006 Boston Legal Annabelle Carruthers Episode: "The Nutcrackers"
2006 Life Is Not a Fairy Tale Addie Collins Television film
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
2006–2007 Everybody Hates Chris Maxine Rock 3 episodes
2007 Boston Legal Judge Victoria Thomson Episode: "Oral Contracts"
2008–2009 Eli Stone Patti Dellacroix 26 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
2009 Cold Case Chandra Patterson '09 Episode: "Soul"
2009 Legally Mad Jeanette Woods Unaired pilot[13]
2010 Party Down Diane Ellison Episode: "James Ellison Funeral"
2011 Glee Sister Mary Constance Episode: "Original Song"
2011 State of Georgia Aunt Honey 12 episodes
2012–2020 Doc McStuffins Hallie Hippo/Nurse Hattie (voice) 115 episodes
2012 The Game Grandma Donna Mack Episode: "There's No Place Like Home"
2012 The Cleveland Show Shirley (voice) Episode: "Mama Drama"
2012 RuPaul's Drag Race Herself Episode: "Snatch Game"
2012 Shake It Up Judge Marsha Elliott Episode: "Judge It Up"
2012–2013 The Client List Georgia Cummings 25 episodes
2014 Psych Melba Birdson Episode: "1967: A Psych Odyssey"
2014–2015 Sirens Rosemary St. Claire 3 episodes
2015 Being Mary Jane CeCe Robinson 6 episodes
2015–2017 The Carmichael Show Cynthia Carmichael 32 episodes
2016 Dinner in America with Brett Gelman Herself TV special
2018 Dear White People Sorbet Episode: "Volume 2: Chapter VII"
2018 Living Biblically Estelle Williams Episode: "Never Let Loyalty Love You"
2018 Love Is Rose Marie 2 episodes
2019–present Family Reunion M'Dear Main cast
2019 A Black Lady Sketch Show Pastor Rosetta Daniels Episode: "Your Boss Knows You Don't Have Eyebrows"
2019 Black-ish Lynette Mae Episode: "Pops the Question"
2020 P-Valley Grandma Ernestine 2 episodes
2021 The Loud House Gayle McBride (voice) Episode: "Resident Upheaval"

Stage appearancesEdit

  • Minister, Godsong, La MaMa E.T.C., New York City, 1978
  • (Broadway debut) Dionne, Hair (revival), Biltmore Theatre, 1977
  • Soloist, Langston Hughes, AMAS Repertory Theatre, 1977
  • Title role, Karma, Richard Allen Center, New York City, 1977
  • Gloria, Verandah, New Dramatists, 1977
  • Soloists, Seasons Reasons, Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, New York City, 1977
  • Yenta lady, A Broadway Musical, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, New York City, 1978
  • Loretta, Miss Truth, Apollo Theatre, New York City, 1978
  • Bones, Circle in the Square Theatre, New York City, 1978
  • Glinda the Good Witch of the South, The Wiz, Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, 1978
  • Virtue, The Blacks, Richard Allen Center, New York City, 1978
  • Young Mary, Comin' Uptown, Winter Garden Theatre, New York City, 1979
  • Jewel, Lion and the Jewel, Lincoln Center, New York City, 1980
  • Precious, Dementos, City Center, New York City, 1980
  • Lorell Robinson, Dreamgirls, Imperial Theatre, New York City, 1981
  • The Casting of Kevin Christian, Shepherd Street Art Gallery, 1983
  • Mermaid, Gotta Getaway!, Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1984
  • Janeen Earl-Taylor, Long Time Since Yesterday, Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, New York City, 1985
  • Lilly, Big Deal, Broadway Theater, New York City, 1986
  • Lala, Wigs, and model, The Colored Museum, Public Theaters/Susan Stein Shiva Theater, New York City, 1986
  • Delia, Spunk, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1990
  • Billie Holiday, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, CA, then Little Theatre, Phoenix, AZ, 1991
  • Holly Day, Rabbit Foot, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Los Angeles, 1991
  • Charlesetta, East Texas Hot Links, The Met, Los Angeles, 1991
  • Soloist, Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein Tribute, Embassy Theatre, 1991
  • Soloist, Big Moments on Broadway, Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington, DC, 1991
  • Glinda The Good Witch of The South, The Wiz, Apollo Revival, 1995
  • Also appeared as Cissy, Woman from the Town and in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Hot Mikado in 1990.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Loretta Devine - Texas Birth Index". FamilySearch. 21 August 1949. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  2. ^ Loewenstein, Melinda (19 August 2011). "Emmy Nominee Loretta Devine Reflects on a Divine Career". Backstage. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b Kelly, Chris (26 February 2013). "Devine Calling". Modern Luxury - Houston. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  4. ^ Pease, Theresa (Summer 2011). "Achieving Devinity: Even if you don't know this Brandeis actress' name, you'll recognize her face". Brandeis Magazine. Brandeis University. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Smiley, Tavis (4 May 2011). "Actress Loretta Devine" (Video interview). Tavis Smiley. PBS. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b Oxendine, Alece (31 July 2013). "Remembering Jessie Maple And Her Landmark 1981 Feature-Length Film, 'Will'". Indie Wire. indiewire.com. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  7. ^ Braxton, Greg (17 April 2008). "Devine counts many blessings". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  8. ^ "| Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". Emmys.com. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  9. ^ "2012 Gracie Awards". thegracies.org. Archived from the original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  10. ^ "The Client List: canceled, no season three | canceled + renewed TV shows". TV Series Finale. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  11. ^ Wells, Veronica (25 August 2015). "Loretta Devine Talks New Show, Waiting To Exhale & More". MadameNoire. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  12. ^ Raqiyah, Mays (26 August 2015). "Loretta Devine Tackles Topical Comedy on 'The Carmichael Show' [Interview]". Ebony. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  13. ^ Schneider, Michael (2009-05-11). "NBC passing on 'Legally Mad'". Variety. Retrieved 2019-12-28.

External linksEdit