Mosaic Woman Legend
Tony Award Winning Actress, Singer, Director and Producer
Whether she is bringing laughter to millions of television viewers around the world, moving theatre-goers to tears, thrilling movie fans, offering new insights to students by teaching Master Classes at renowned learning institutions that include Howard University, Julliard, and Carnegie Mellon, serving on Boards of prestigious organizations, or breaking new ground as a director, Phylicia Rashad is one of the entertainment world’s most extraordinary performing artists.
A native of Houston, Texas, Rashad graduated Magna Cum Laude from Howard University.
A versatile performer, Rashad became a household name when she portrayed “Claire Huxtable” on The Cosby Show, a character whose appeal has earned her numerous honors and awards for over two decades. She teamed up with Bill Cosby in later years on television as “Ruth Lucas” on Cosby. Recently, she portrayed the role of Dr. Vanessa Young in the NBC series, Do No Harm. While television was a catalyst in the rise of Rashad’s career, she has also been a force on the stage, appearing both on and off-Broadway, often in projects that showcase her musical talent such as “Jelly’s Last Jam, “Into The Woods, “Dreamgirls” and “The Wiz”.
As a dramatic actress, Rashad has performed on Broadway as “Violet Weston” in August Osage County, “Big Mama” in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ( a role that she reprised on the London Stage), “Aunt Ester” in August Wilson’s Gem Of The Ocean,( Tony Award nomination) and “Queen Britannia” in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at Lincoln Center. Ms. Rashad received both the Drama Desk and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her riveting performance as “Lena Younger” in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun. She appeared in Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, and starred in Perry’s highly acclaimed film version of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.
Behind the scenes, Phylicia made her directorial debut at the Seattle Repertory Theater with August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. Critics gave her first foray into the directing world rave reviews, saying “Rashad steers Seattle Rep’s show with great sensitivity and understanding - for both the text and actors.”
Of her work at the helm of The Ebony Repertory Theatre’s production of A Raisin in the Sun in the Spring of 2011, the Los Angeles Times hailed Rashad’s California directing debut by stating that she “…nails the play’s rich humor in a solidly rendered production.” She remounted the production at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles and at the Westport County Playhouse in Westport Connecticut. Ms. Rashad has also directed Paul Oakley Stovall’s Immediate Family at the Goodman Theater ,Michael Benjamin Washington’s Blueprints at La Jolla Playhouse, August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and Fences at the Longwharf Theatre and the McCarter Theatre.
Respected in the academic world, Rashad is the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Spelman College where First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the 2011 commencement address. Rashad also holds Honorary Doctorates from Fordham University, Carnegie Mellon University, Howard University, Providence College, Morris Brown College, Clark Atlanta University, Barber Scotia College, St. Augustine College, and Brown University.
Among the awards that decorate her walls and shelves are the Texas Medal of Arts, the National Council of Negro Women’s Dorothy L. Height Dreammaker Award, AFTRA’s AMEE Award for Excellence in Entertainment, the Board of Directors of New York Women In Film and Television’s Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement, Dallas Women In Film Topaz Award, Peoples’ Choice Awards, several NAACP Image Awards, and the Pan African Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Rashad serves on the Advisory Board of the PRASAD Project and the Board of Directors of True Colors Theatre, the Broadway Inspirational Voices, The Actors Center, the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, and the ADEPT Center which is steering the restoration of the historic Brainerd Institute.
Phylicia Rashad is also the mother of two adult children.