Born in Guyana on December 25, 1952, actress CCH Pounder made her first film appearance as a nurse in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz (1979). Pounder went on to play a small part in Prizzi's Honor before her first big role as truckstop owner Brenda in Bagdad Cafe. Her first TV-series assignment was as husband-murderer Dawn Murphy in the short-lived FOX sitcom Women in Prison. Many dramatic TV movies followed, including Leap of Faith, Third Degree Burn, Murder in Mississippi, and the two-part CBS miniseries Common Ground. On the big screen, she had supporting parts in Postcards From the Edge, Kurt Baker's version of The Importance of Being Earnest, and the romantic comedy Benny & Joon. After appearing in Sliver and Robocop 3, she returned to television for the role of Dr. Angela Hicks on ER, earning her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress. She left the show in 1997 and went on to countless TV movies (Final Justice, Netforce, A Touch of Hope, just to name a few), as well as a couple feature films (Face/Off, End of Days) and TV miniseries (House of Frankenstein, To Serve and Protect). In 2001, she narrated the PBS documentary series Race: The Power of an Illusion and played a judge in Allison Anders' independent drama Things Behind the Sun. In 2002, she was back on television as Detective Claudette Wynn on the FOX police drama The Shield.
Pounder continued to work on The Shield until the series concluded in 2007, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for her role as Detective Wynn. The actress appeared in 2009's psychological horror The Orphan, and voiced Mo'at, the spiritual leader of the Omaticaya clan, in James Cameron's mega-blockbuster Avatar the same year. 2009 would prove a rewarding year for Pounder, as her guest appearances on the BBC/HBO series No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency would earn her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.