African American leading lady Lynn Whitfield made her film bow in 1983's Dr. Detroit. Three years later, the Louisiana born and bred Whitfield played the title character in the fact-based TV movie Johnnie Mae Gibson: FBI, the story of the first black female FBI agent. After gaining recognition for her work in a number of TV dramas, including The Women of Brewster Place (1990), Whitfield won an Emmy award and international acclaim for her starring performance in the HBO biopic The Josephine Baker Story in 1991. Whitfield subsequently split her efforts between TV and film, doing particularly strong work in Kasi Lemmons' much-feted Eve's Bayou (1997) as a family matriarch struggling with her husband's infidelity. In 1999, she earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for her work in Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding, a 1950s drama in which she was cast as the wealthy mother of a young woman (Halle Berry) intent on marrying a poor white musician.
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by Hal Erickson biography