Shari Headley

Shari Headley (born July 15, 1964) is an American actress and former model. She is best known for her role as Lisa McDowell in the 1988 box-office hit romantic comedy film Coming to America and its sequel Coming 2 America (2021). Headley also has appeared in films The Preacher's Wife (1996) and Johnson Family Vacation (2004).

Shari Headley
Born (1964-07-15) July 15, 1964 (age 57)
  • Actress
  • model
Years active1977–present
Known forLisa McDowell – Coming to America
(m. 1993; div. 1995)

On television, Headley starred as Detective Mimi Reed in the ABC daytime soap opera All My Children on a regular basis from 1991 to 1994. As lead actress, she starred in the Fox short-lived drama series 413 Hope St. (1997–1998), for which she received NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series nomination. From 2014 to 2016, Headley starred as villainous Jennifer Sallison in the Oprah Winfrey Network primetime soap opera The Haves and the Have Nots.

Early lifeEdit

Born in Queens, New York City, Headley is the youngest of four children. She is of part Trinidadian descent.[1] Headley began her career as a model, appearing in magazines such as Glamour and Mademoiselle.[2]


Headley made her acting debut appearing in an episode of NBC sitcom The Cosby Show in 1985. Headley later appeared on Miami Vice, Quantum Leap, and Matlock. In 1988, she was cast in a leading role opposite Eddie Murphy in the romantic comedy film, Coming to America.[3] The film was a box-office success grossing a worldwide total of $288,752,301.[4] The following year, Headley had starring role alongside Louis Gossett, Jr. in the short-lived ABC drama series, Gideon Oliver. Later that year, she co-starred in the Kojak television film series. In 1991, Headley joined the cast of ABC daytime soap opera, All My Children playing police officer Mimi Reed. At the 25th NAACP Image Awards, she received NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series nomination, but lost to Victoria Rowell.[5] She was regular on All My Children from 1991 to 1994, and returned to the series in 1995 and 2005. After leaving the soap, she guest-starred on New York Undercover, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Cosby. In 1996, she had supporting role in the comedy-drama film The Preacher's Wife directed by Penny Marshall. In 1997, Headley landed a leading role in the short-lived FOX drama series, 413 Hope St. alongside Richard Roundtree.[6] The series was cancelled after only ten episodes, but Headley received NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series nomination for her performance.[7]

In early 2000s, Headley returned to daytime television playing the recurring roles on Guiding Light (2001–2002) and The Bold and the Beautiful (2004–2005). In 2004, she played Mack Johnson's (portrayed by Steve Harvey) wife Jacqueline in the comedy film, Johnson Family Vacation.[8] In 2007, she appeared in the comedy-drama film Towelhead.[9] She also had guest starring roles on Veronica Mars, House, Castle, and Switched at Birth. In 2014, she joined the cast of Oprah Winfrey Network primetime soap opera, The Haves and the Have Nots created by Tyler Perry, playing District Attorney Jennifer Sallison.[10] She was promoted to series regular as of season four. In 2019, she had a recurring role in the On Becoming a God in Central Florida. Headley reprised her role of Queen Lisa Joffer from Coming to America in the sequel Coming 2 America in 2021.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

Headley was married to actor/entertainer Christopher Martin, better known as "Play" from the hip-hop duo Kid N' Play, from May 1993 until they divorced in June 1995.[12][13]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 The Pick-up Artist Girl painter with ladder (uncredited)
1988 Coming to America Lisa McDowell
1989 Kojak: Ariana Trish Van Hogan TV Movie
1990 Kojak: None So Blind Trish Van Hogan TV Movie
Paris Is Burning Herself Documentary
1996 The Preacher's Wife Arlene Chattan
1997 A Woman Like That Herself
2004 Johnson Family Vacation Jacqueline Johnson
2007 Towelhead Mrs. Bradley
2008 Belly 2: Millionaire Boyz Club Alexis Video
2013 Act Like You Love Me Tianna
2014 The Congregation Maple
2015 Ex-Free Wendy
2018 Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween Mrs. Carter
2019 Three's Complicated Imani TV Movie
2021 Coming 2 America Lisa McDowell


Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Cosby Show Mrs. Dubois Episode: "Denise's Friend"
1986 Miami Vice Cindy Episode: "French Twist"
1989 Gideon Oliver Zina Oliver Main Cast
1990 Quantum Leap Violet Walters Episode: "Pool Hall Blues"
Matlock Model Carla Royce Episode: "The Cover Girl"
1991–96 All My Children Det. Mimi Reed Regular Cast
1995 New York Undercover Leanne Episode: "Brotherhood"
1996 Walker, Texas Ranger Vanessa St. John Episode: "Behind the Badge"
Cosby Victoria the Nude Model Episode: "No Nudes Is Good Nudes"
1997–98 413 Hope St. Juanita Barnes Main Cast
1998 Love Boat: The Next Wave Barbara Episode: "Smooth Sailing"
Getting Personal Fake Robyn Episode: "Bring in 'Da Milo, Bring in 'Da Robyn"
Malcolm & Eddie Veronica Episode: "Twisted Sisters"
For Your Love Maya Episode: "The Sister Act"
1999 The Wayans Bros. Dawn Episode: "Crazy 4 U" & "Three on a Couch"
2001–02 The Guiding Light Felicia Boudreau Regular Role
2003 Half & Half Barbara Episode: "The Big Bitter Baby Shower Episode"
2004 One on One Pamela Episode: "Sleepless in Baltimore"
2004–05 The Bold and the Beautiful Heather Engle Regular Cast
2005 All My Children Det. Mimi Reed Regular Cast
Veronica Mars Vanessa Hamilton Episode: "Lord of the Bling"
House M.D. Dr. Arlene Marks Episode: "Kids"
2009 Castle Nicole Cameron Episode: "Love Me Dead"
2010 10 Things I Hate About You Marcheline Episode: "The Winner Takes It All"
2014 Love That Girl Maxine Episode: "Gullible Is as Gullible Does"
2014–16 The Haves and the Have Nots Jennifer Sallison Recurring Cast: Season 2-3, Main Cast: Season 4
2015 Switched at Birth Gwendolyn Berdick 2 Episodes
2019 Star Houston Connelly 2 Episodes
On Becoming a God in Central Florida Harmony Recurring Cast

Music video appearancesEdit

Year Title Artist
1985 "Half Crazy" Johnny Gill
1988 "Sarah Sarah" Jonathan Butler
1994 "Before I Let You Go" Blackstreet
1999 "Wild Wild West" Will Smith


  1. ^ "Shari Headley Stars At Home And In The Community". Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  2. ^ "Ebony". Johnson Publishing Company. March 3, 1989 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Coming to America". June 29, 1988. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  4. ^ "Coming to America (1988) – Box Office Mojo". Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  5. ^ "The Crisis". Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  6. ^ "Wayans Takes a Detour to the Gritty Side With '413 Hope St.'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  7. ^ "Image Award". Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  8. ^ "Johnson Family Vacation". April 7, 2004. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  9. ^ "Towelhead". September 8, 2007. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  10. ^ "Shari Headley Stars at Home and in Community". Fierce for Black Women. June 10, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  11. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (August 12, 2019). "'Coming 2 America' Sequel: Shari Headley Officially Returning".
  12. ^ "Ebony". Johnson Publishing Company. February 3, 1993 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ "Jet". Johnson Publishing Company. March 29, 1993 – via Google Books.

External linksEdit