A veteran of nearly 80 films and television shows and recurrent character on 2 serial shows, Boston University graduate Alfre Woodard has definitely redefined Hollywood's view of fiercely-independent black women in starring roles. She is known throughout America for her honest portrayals of flawed but strong women, from her established role of Dr. Roxanne Turner in St. Elsewhere (1982-1988) to her memorable (and oftentimes sheepish) role of Lily Sloane in Star Trek VIII: First Contact ("It's my first ray gun.").
Born 8 November, 1952 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Woodard took her first role in 1978's psychological thriller Remember My Name, a forgettable film starring Geraldine Chaplin and Anthony Perkins. Though the movie was hailed as a flop, Woodard impressed some folks over in television world, and in 1982 she began her two-year character in the soap opera St. Elsewhere, the long-winded story of the men and women of St. Eligius Hospital. When she left St. Elsewhere, she joined the cast of Steven Bochco's LA Law pilot episode as Adrianne Moore, in 1986. She did not stay on the cast for the run of the show.
Since then, she's appeared in a variety of TV shows and movies, many geared towards bringing to light the stories of women and African Americans in America (for example 1995's How to Make an American Quilt, and narrating a 2000 PBS special on Eleanor Roosevelt). She has also appeared in a variety of science fiction films, including The Core and K-PAX (though calling K-PAX a scifi flick is probably breaking rules somewhere, but I figure the presence of aliens and stuff makes this appropriate, even if the aliens are not real).
Woodard's first Emmy (Best Actress in a Drama Series) came to her for her performance as a grieving mother, Doris Robson, of a child killed by a police officer in Hill Street Blues (3 episodes in total) in 1984. Her second Emmy for Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series in an episode of LA Law, as a rape victim, in 1987. Her third Emmy for Actress in a Miniseries or a Special came from her role in Miss Evers' Boys in 1997, a stunning miniseries about the Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiments, in which African Americans were infected with syphilis and allowed to die--in the name of science--in 1932. Ms. Woodard has only been nominated once for an Academy Award for her performance in 1983's Cross Creek, the true story of the woman who wrote "The Yearling" starring Mary Steenburgen and Rip Torn.
She lives with her husband, writer Roderick Spencer and her two children, Mavis and Duncan.
References at www.imdb.com and www.eonline.com.