Renn Woods (born Ren Woods; January 1, 1958) is an American film, television and stage actress, vocalist and songwriter. She is best known for her role as Fanta in Roots, and also for her role as Aquarius in the film version of Hair (1979).[1]

Renn Woods
City of Los Angeles -june 2014 1037126 68... 0(1) .jpg
Woods in Los Angeles, 2014
Ren Woods

(1958-01-01) January 1, 1958 (age 62)
OccupationActress, vocalist, songwriter
Years active1976–2019
Home townPortland, Oregon, U.S.

Woods was born in Chicago and raised in Portland, Oregon, where she attracted attention as part of Three Little Souls, a local musical trio she formed at age ten. The group subsequently became known as Sunday's Child, and toured internationally through Wood's adolescent years, appearing on television with such acts as Bob Hope. In adulthood, Woods transitioned into acting, starring as Fanta in Roots (1977), and Aquarius in Hair (1979). She also had a supporting role in the comedy The Jerk (1979).

She has also appeared onstage as Dorothy in the first national touring production of The Wiz,[2] and as The Moon in a critically acclaimed stage production of Caroline, or Change.


Early lifeEdit

Woods was born in Chicago, Illinois, one of six children, and was raised in Portland, Oregon by her divorced mother, who was a nurse.[3] Woods described her mother as a "politically conscious and very unusual woman."[3] Woods and her siblings attended private Catholic schools in Portland.[3][4] At age eight, Woods began singing in a trio with two friends in her neighborhood, performing as the Three Little Souls.[3]

She added an extra "n" to her first name to lessen confusion with a company that used the domain name Renwoods.[5]

Career beginningsEdit

Renn began singing at the age of six.[6] By age 10, she and two girlfriends began performing under the group name Sunday's Child, and performed on television programs with Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby.[4] The trio toured the world, performing the very last tour of duty with Bob Hope in Vietnam.[6]

In 1979, she released a solo album, Out of the Woods, which was produced by Earth, Wind & Fire member Al McKay. A second album, Azz Izz, was released in 1982.[7] Azz Izz was well received. The second album featured a new composition by Prince titled "I Don't Wanna Stop." Woods released a third album featuring jazz standards, Crazy, in 2015.[7]

Renn is currently recording her first American Songbook CD.

Acting careerEdit

Woods achieved fame as Fanta in Roots in 1977, a role for which she won a People's Choice Award. She also starred as Aquarius in Miloš Forman’s movie musical version of Hair (1979). She appeared in other American television series, including What's Happening!!, Lou Grant, Hill Street Blues, The White Shadow,[6] The Jeffersons, Roc, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Beauty and the Beast and NYPD Blue. She starred as Edie in the Golden Globe-winning tv series Beauty and the Beast. She starred as Mrs. McGill in the tv movie Detention: The Siege at Johnson High.

In 2015, she appeared in the TVOne documentary series Unsung. In 2016, she appeared in the TruInside tv documentary The Jerk, about the film she had co-starred in with Steve Martin, exploring what makes the comedy a classic.

She subsequently appeared as Dorothy in the first national Broadway tour of "The Wiz." She created a one-woman autobiographical musical, A Diva Like Me, in the 1990s, which she expanded into an ensemble version, Sold: Renn Woods in Concert (A Play in Rhythm and Blues).[6][1][8]

She also appeared in the Tony Award-nominated production of "Caroline, Or Change" (the role of "The Moon") at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.



Year Title Role Notes
1976 Sparkle Jim Dandy Singer Uncredited
1976 Car Wash Loretta
1978 Youngblood Sybil
1979 Hair 'Aquarius' soloist
1979 The Jerk Elvira
1980 Xanadu Jo
1980 9 to 5 Barbara
1982 Penitentiary II Nikki
1984 The Brother from Another Planet Bernice
1985 Beer Mary Morrison
1986 Jumpin' Jack Flash Jackie
1987 Walker Alta Kewen
1988 From Hollywood to Deadwood Christine
1992 Judgement Hollie Glass
1996 Crazy World Wilma
1997 Detention: The Siege at Johnson High Mrs. McGill
2007 The Blue Hour Aria
2010 Church Sister Dee
2015 Unsung Hollywood Herself Documentary
2016 TruInside "The Jerk" Herself Documentary


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Roots Fanta Miniseries
1977 What's Happening!! Brenda Episode: "Dwayne's Dilemma"
1977 We've Got Each Other Donna 9 episodes
1978 Insight Angie Episode: "It Can't Happen to Me"
1979 The White Shadow Darlene Robinson Episode: "Pregnant Pause"
1982 Lou Grant Karly Episode: "Suspect"
1984 The Jeffersons Rhonda Episode: "A New Girl in Town"
1986–1987 Hill Street Blues Hooker / Jackie Lowrie 2 episodes
1989 TV 101 Teenage Pregnancy Counselor Episode: "First Love: Part 2"
1987–1989 Beauty and the Beast Edie 44 episodes
1989 Monsters Cora Episode: "Love Hurts"
1993 Roc Pam Episode: "Shove It Up Your Aspirin"
1995 The Client Doctor Episode: "The Prodigal Father"
1995 NYPD Blue Lisa Episode: "These Old Bones"
1996 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Mrs. Hecht Episode: "Pilot"
1996 Relativity Receptionist Episode: "Jake Gets a Job"
2001 That's Life Clerk Episode: "Larva"


  1. ^ a b Sharon Eberson (October 4, 2013). "Preview: Actress Renn Woods writes musical based on life story". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  2. ^ Eberson, Sharon (October 4, 2013). "Preview: Actress Renn Woods writes musical based on life story". Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on May 9, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Breslauer, Jan. "Easing On Down Life's Road With Her Own Songs". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 9, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Actress Renn Woods explains how she ended up in East Falls". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. February 25, 1999. p. 43 – via  
  5. ^ Bob Leszczak (November 2, 2012). Single Season Sitcoms, 1948–1979: A Complete Guide. McFarland. p. 198. ISBN 9780786493050. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "Renn Woods' Musical SOLD: RENN WOODS IN CONCERT Makes Industry Debut at Shelter Studios, 10/20". Broadway World. October 19, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "CD of the Month: Renn Woods – Crazy". The Funk Show. January 24, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  8. ^ "'Sold: Renn Woods in Concert'". New Pittsburgh Courier. October 18, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2017.

External linksEdit