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Yolanda Toussieng

Yolanda Toussieng

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A commanding character actress with a powerful screen presence, Lorraine Toussaint graduated from Juilliard and built a theatrical career as a Shakespearean actress before she tackled screen acting, landing supporting roles in such films as "Hudson Hawk" (1991), "Point of No Return" (1993) and "Dangerous Minds" (1995) and a series regular role opposite Annie Potts on the then-and-now best friends drama "Any Day Now" (Lifetime, 1998-2002), for which she earned five Outstanding Lead Actress Image Award nominations. She recurred on "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010), "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006-2010) and "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 2006-08; The 101 Network, 2008-2011), earned a series regular role opposite Holly Hunter on "Saving Grace" (TNT, 2007-2010) and notched a supporting turn in the Jamie Fox/Robert Downey, Jr. drama "The Soloist" (2009). An immensely gifted actress who had long flown under the radar, Toussaint earned a massive critical boost with her powerful supporting turn in the indie "Middle of Nowhere" (2012), as a hardworking mother who struggles to support her daughter's (Emayatzy Corinealdi) decision to put her life on hold to support her incarcerated husband (Omari Hardwick). One of the best...

A commanding character actress with a powerful screen presence, Lorraine Toussaint graduated from Juilliard and built a theatrical career as a Shakespearean actress before she tackled screen acting, landing supporting roles in such films as "Hudson Hawk" (1991), "Point of No Return" (1993) and "Dangerous Minds" (1995) and a series regular role opposite Annie Potts on the then-and-now best friends drama "Any Day Now" (Lifetime, 1998-2002), for which she earned five Outstanding Lead Actress Image Award nominations. She recurred on "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010), "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006-2010) and "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 2006-08; The 101 Network, 2008-2011), earned a series regular role opposite Holly Hunter on "Saving Grace" (TNT, 2007-2010) and notched a supporting turn in the Jamie Fox/Robert Downey, Jr. drama "The Soloist" (2009). An immensely gifted actress who had long flown under the radar, Toussaint earned a massive critical boost with her powerful supporting turn in the indie "Middle of Nowhere" (2012), as a hardworking mother who struggles to support her daughter's (Emayatzy Corinealdi) decision to put her life on hold to support her incarcerated husband (Omari Hardwick). One of the best and most striking character actresses in the business, Lorraine Toussaint left many critics and fans hoping her considerable talents would be even more widely recognized.

Born April 4, 1960 in Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago, Lorraine Toussaint moved to Brooklyn, NY as a child and went on to earn dramatic training, graduating from the famed High School of Performing Arts as well as Juilliard. After a successful stage career that included multiple Shakespearean roles, Toussaint made her screen debut in the Dianne Wiest-starring telefilm "The Face of Rage" (ABC, 1983) and worked her way up to a series regular role on the soap opera "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968-2012) and a supporting role as superspy Almond Joy in the epic Bruce Willis bomb "Hudson Hawk" (1991). Working steadily, Toussaint landed roles in such high-profile telefare as "Queen" (CBS, 1993), "Class of '61" (ABC, 1993) and on the sitcom "The Sinbad Show" (Fox, 1993-94) as well as supporting roles in the big-screen thrillers "Point of No Return" (1993) and "Mother's Boys" (1994). She landed series regular roles on the Doug. E. Doug sitcom "Where I Live" (ABC, 1993) and the Patty Duke drama "Amazing Grace" (NBC, 2005), took a supporting role in "Dangerous Minds" (1995) and recurred on "Murder One" (ABC, 1995-97).

As a successful journeywoman actress, Toussaint went on to book roles in the telefilms "If These Walls Could Talk" (HBO, 1996) and "The Cherokee Kid" (HBO, 1996) as well as a regular role on the series "Leaving L.A." (ABC, 1997), and returned to the big screen in the Patrick Swayze trucker thriller "Black Dog" (1998). That same year, however, she landed a breakout role opposite Annie Potts on the acclaimed drama series "Any Day Now" (Lifetime, 1998-2002). The show followed lifelong friends and Alabama natives Rene (Toussaint) and M.E. (Potts) in both their current day timelines as adults and in their 1960s childhoods, touching on such issues as race, class and women's rights. Impressing fans and critics alike for her powerful work as an ambitious, overachieving lawyer, Toussaint earned five Outstanding Lead Actress Image Award nominations. After the series ended its run when Potts left to focus on her family, Toussaint booked recurring roles on "Crossing Jordan" (NBC, 2001-07), "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010) and "Threat Matrix" (ABC, 2003-04) and essayed a supporting turn in the Oprah Winfrey-produced adaptation of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (ABC, 2005).

After recurring on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS, 2000-15) and "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006-2010), she played Jamie Foxx's mother in the based-on-real-life story of a homeless musical prodigy, "The Soloist" (2009) and booked a series regular role as a police captain on the Holly Hunter drama "Saving Grace" (TNT, 2007-2010). She impressed critics and fans alike with a sensitive performance as the mother of Jess (Jurnee Smollett) on "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 2006-08; The 101 Network, 2008-2011) and continued to line up guest spots on everything from "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ), "Drop Dead Diva" (Lifetime, 2009-14) and "Scandal" (ABC, 2012- ). After a career of accomplished, masterful performances that earned her excellent reviews, Toussaint reached a new high-water mark with her star-making performance in Ava DuVernay's indie "Middle of Nowhere" (2012), the story of a young wife (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who makes life-changing sacrifices to support her incarcerated husband, which causes friction with her mother (Toussaint). For her powerful performance, Toussaint earned an Indie Spirit Award nod for Best Supporting Actress. After guest arcs on the procedural crime drama "Body of Proof" (ABC 2011-13) and family drama "The Fosters" (ABC Family 2013- ), Toussaint joined the cast of the comedy drama "Orange is the New Black" (Netflix 2013- ) for its second season, playing the drug-running prisoner Yvonne Parker.

By Jonathan Riggs

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