#ThursdayReads: Jenifer Lewis

Jenifer Lewis is one of Hollywood’s most familiar faces, with more than 300 appearances in film and television. Dubbed a “national treasure” by TV Guide.com, Jenifer stars on the hit show Black-ish (ABC), where her hilarious portrayal of “Ruby Johnson” earned her a nomination for the 2016 Critics Choice Award.

Jenifer’s most recent movies include The Wedding Ringer, Think Like A Man, Think Like A Man Too and Baggage Claim. She delivered legendary performances as Tina Turner’s mother in What’s Love Got to Do With It and in The Preacher’s Wife as the mother of Whitney Houston’s character. Jenifer starred opposite Matt Damon in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter and for director Tyler Perry, Jenifer created unforgettable characters in Madea’s Family Reunion and Meet the Browns. In the movie Castaway, Jenifer portrayed Tom Hanks’ boss. In animated films, Jenifer’s uniquely recognizable voice is adored by Disney fans worldwide in roles such as “Flo” in Cars and Cars 2 and as “Mama Odie” in The Princess and the Frog.

Jenifer’s TV roles have ranged from regular appearances as “Aunt Helen” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to guest star roles on Friends, Boston Legal and Girlfriends. For six seasons, Jenifer portrayed “Lana Hawkins” on Lifetime’s hit series Strong Medicine.

Although best known for her Hollywood success, Jenifer has enjoyed a wide-ranging and varied career in music and theater. Jenifer has performed in four Broadway shows, including Hairspray in the role of “Motormouth Mable.” In 2014, she received an electrifying standing ovation at Carnegie Hall when she sang with the New York Pops orchestra. All told, Jenifer has presented more than 200 concerts, performing in 49 states and on four continents.

Jenifer was born and raised in Kinloch, Missouri. Her accomplishments as an entertainer and community activist have been recognized with an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Webster University in St. Louis and by the American Black Film Festival’s Career Achievement Award.

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