Blonde-dreadlocked actress and filmmaker Kasi Lemmons was born in Missouri but raised in Massachusetts after her parents divorced. She performed in Boston Children's Theatre as a kid before studying at N.Y.U. and U.C.L.A. Starting at the tender age of 18, she acted professionally throughout the '80s in television and films, including a small role in Spike Lee's School Daze. With an interest in making documentaries, she went to film school at the New School for Social Research in N.Y.C. and made her first film, Fall From Grace, a short documentary about homelessness. Though she continued to develop her writing, she kept acting in order to pay the bills with supporting roles in The Silence of the Lambs, Candyman, Hard Target, and Fear of a Black Hat. Frustrated with her acting career and the lack of good roles for black women in Hollywood, she went to work on her screenplay for Eve's Bayou, a Southern Gothic drama about a girl growing up in Louisiana. In 1997, she appeared in Gridlock'd, the debut feature film by her husband, actor/director Vondie Curtis-Hall. That same year she became pregnant with her first child and made the short film Dr. Hugo -- based on a segment of her script and starring her husband in the lead role -- in order to convince the studios that she could direct Eve's Bayou herself. By the time shooting began, her son Henry Hunter Hall was just three months old. With Samuel L. Jackson as co-producer, Eve's Bayou was a critical success, winning Lemmons an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. In 2001, she teamed with Samuel L. Jackson again for the psychological thriller The Caveman's Valentine, adapted from a novel by George Dawes Green.