Born in Los Angeles, actress Lisa Gay Hamilton moved across the country to attend N.Y.U. and then Juilliard. She made her film debut in the cult favorite rap movie Krush Groove (1985) and made her television debut on Homicide: Life on the Street. By 1993, she was appearing on-stage at the New York Shakespeare Festival and on Broadway in August Wilson's The Piano Lesson. She moved on to film comedies, playing a bumbling crook's wife in the crime caper Palookaville and a trusty gal pal in the romantic comedy Nick and Jane. After a few small roles in Jackie Brown and Drunks, she moved on to television as associate attorney Rebecca Washington on David E. Kelley's ABC drama The Practice. After her Emmy nomination, she remained on the show until the 2003 season. Staying with more dramatic fare, she played the young Sethe in Jonathan Demme's Beloved and a devoted wife in Clint Eastwood's True Crime. She found stellar roles in made-for-television movies, as a woman accused of murder for having an abortion in Swing Vote, a cotton plantation slave in A House Divided, and Ophelia in Hamlet. Back on the big screen, she provided a monologue for Ten Tiny Love Stories and worked with director Demme again on The Truth About Charlie. After writing with the Sundance screenwriter's lab, Hamilton made her directorial debut with the HBO documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, a biography of the late actress, poet, and playwright Beah Richards.