A Broadway actress by training, Valarie Pettiford earned a Tony nomination for her role in the principal cast of the musical Fosse. She would also earn critical acclaim for roles in shows like Chicago, but most viewers would become acquainted with Pettiford for her film at TV work. Beginning with appearances on shows like Another World and Walker, Texas Ranger, Pettiford spent the '90s building up her résumé. In 2002, she was cast in the recurring role of Gayle Noland on the crime drama The District. Around the same time, she took on the role of Big Dee Thorn on the comedy series Half and Half, which she'd stay with for the next four years. In 2008, she began a professional relationship with Tyler Perry, playing Sandra on the sitcom House of Payne, and playing weary wife Harriet in Perry's 2010 dramedy Why Did I Get Married Too?