Author: Institute of Caribbean Studies | Date: 19 June 2017
Lorraine Toussaint is a Trinidadian-American actress and producer. She began her career in theatre and graduated from Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts in 1978. She then attended the Juilliard School's drama division as a member of Group 11 (1978-1982),where her classmates in 1982 included Megan Gallagher, Penny Johnson Jerald, Jack Kenny, and Jack Stehlin.Toussaint graduated from Juilliard with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.She then began her career as Shakespearean actress before tackling screen acting in television and film.
After graduating from Juilliard, Toussaint started supporting performances in films such as Breaking In (1989), Hudson Hawk (1991), and Dangerous Minds (1995). As lead actress, she is best known for her role as Rene Jackson in the critically acclaimed Lifetime television drama series Any Day Now, from 1998 to 2002, and her recurring role as defense attorney Shambala Green in the NBC legal drama Law & Order.
Toussaint later appeared as a regular cast member in the NBC police procedural Crossing Jordan (2002-03) and the TNT crime drama Saving Grace (2007-10).She has also made over 30 guest appearances on television, starred in a number of made-for-television movies, and had recurring roles in Ugly Betty, Friday Night Lights, Body of Proof, and The Fosters. She co-starred in the ABC fantasy-drama series Forever (2014-15), and recently co-starred in the Fox comedy-drama Rosewood.
Toussaint received critical acclaim and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her performance in the 2012 drama film Middle of Nowhere, written and directed by Ava DuVernay. In 2014, she played the role of Yvonne "Vee" Parker, the main antagonist in the second season of the Netflix comedy-drama series Orange is the New Black, for which she received critical acclaim and a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She later played the role of Amelia Boynton Robinson in the 2014 historical drama film Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay.
Toussaint and her daughter currently split their time between New York and Los Angeles.