Alfre Woodard is a critically-acclaimed, multiple award-winning actor, and a committed activist on human rights and social justice issues in South Africa and America. She was the organizing founder and is an active board member of Artists for a New South Africa.
Recently she directed Artists for a New South Africa’s new audiobook version of Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales, which was released in August 2009, to raise money for children in South Africa orphaned or impacted by HIV/AIDS. Earlier this year, she and Annette Bening traveled to Iran with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for educational and cultural exchanges with Iranian filmmakers, students, and others from Iran’s artistic community.
Woodard, who grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and graduated from Boston University, has been involved in progressive politics for most of her life. She spent many months on the road stumping as an official Presidential campaign surrogate for Barak Obama and since the inauguration, has worked with Michelle Obama’s efforts to reach out to inner-city school children to encourage them to set career goals and reach for their dreams. Woodard has served as a surrogate for the Democratic National Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus. She spoke at the 2004 Democratic Convention, was a long-term member of the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, and has campaigned for numerous national and local political candidates including Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barbara Lee, Ron Dellums, and Tom Hayden.
She has been active in campaigns to protect voting rights and increase voter turn out, ensure human and civil rights, combat environmental racism and poverty, prevent HIV/AIDS, increase equality, and empower young people in both the US and South Africa.
In 1995, Woodard was honored by Liberty Hill Foundation with the Upton Sinclair Award in recognition of her exemplary activism.
Woodard is currently starring in the much-anticipated CBS medical drama Three Rivers, which premieres in October 2009. She recently starred in American Violet, a true story about racial disparity in the criminal justice system, and in The Family that Preys, alongside Kathy Bates. In 2008, she starred with Christian Slater in NBC’s My Own Worst Enemy and, prior to that, Woodard appeared as Betty Applewhite on the ABC hit drama Desperate Housewives.
Additional recent credits include Take the Lead, Something New, The Water Is Wide, Beauty Shop, The Forgotten, Radio, The Core, The Singing Detective and K-PAX. Other credits include Showtime’s Holiday Heart (for which she was nominated for a 2000 Best Actress Golden Globe Award), Love ‘N Basketball, Down in the Delta, What’s Cooking and Mumford. Always versatile, Woodard also has lent her voice to animation, portraying the cheetah mother in The Wild Thornberrys Movie, as well as a lemur named Plio in the summer blockbuster Dinosaur.
An Academy Award nominee and four-time Emmy Award winner, Woodard was first honored in 1984 for her performance as the grieving mother of a child killed by a police officer in the acclaimed NBC series Hill Street Blues. She won her second Emmy Award for her portrayal of a rape victim on L.A. Law, and the same year was nominated for her role in the John Sayles’ telefilm, Unnatural Causes. Her third Emmy was for Best Actress in a Television Mini-Series or Movie in HBO’s Miss Ever’s Boys, for which she also received a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Cable Ace Award. Most recently, Woodard received an Emmy in 2003 for her guest-starring role on The Practice. She has been nominated for additional Emmys and, in 1984, was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Martin Ritt’s Cross Creek.
Woodard’s starring performance in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of August Wilson’s play The Piano Lesson earned her a Best Actress Award from the Screen Actors Guild, as well as another Emmy nomination. In addition, she was honored with an ACE Award for her portrayal of Winnie Mandela in the HBO presentation Mandela, starring Danny Glover.
Other films Woodard has starred include How To Make An American Quilt, Crooklyn, The Member of the Wedding, Star Trek: First Contact, Primal Fear, Passion Fish, Bopha!, Rich In Love, Blue Chips, Heart And Souls, Grand Canyon, Scrooged, Follow Me Home, and Miss Firecracker.