Born: July 8, 1960
Birthplace: Queens, NY
Zodiac Sign: Cancer
Career and Life
Valarie Pettiford is an American stage and television actress, dancer, and jazz singer. She received a Tony nomination for her role in the broadway production Fosse. She is also known for her role as "Big Dee Dee" Thorne on the UPN sitcom Half & Half.
Pettiford began her career as a dancer and choreographer in Bob Fosse productions on Broadway. Alvin Klein of the New York Times wrote of her role in the 1983 musical revue Ladies and Gentlemen, Jerome Kern! that "You will not for a moment take your eyes off Valarie Pettiford, the show's standout: a sinewy dancer who can be sultry or sweet, measure for measure, as prescribed.... Miss Pettiford appears to be a superbly trained dancer, schooled in balletic finesse and Broadway-style razzmatazz - and a stunning presence." Leah Frank, also in the NYT, wrote of Pettiford's appearance in West Side Story in 1987: "The mainstay of the supporting cast is Valarie Pettiford, whose Anita is spicy, sensual and full of fire. She is an exciting actress who has a special quality needed to ignite a number such as America."
In 1994, she played black lesbian Cassandra Keefer in The Naked Truth, and from 1995 to 1996 starred as Julie in a touring production of Show Boat.
Pettiford received a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical and a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for her role in the Broadway production Fosse from 1998 to 1999. Variety said Pettiford gave "a coolly elegant vocal rendition, [and she] is also a sultry, powerful dancer." She left Fosse to appear as Velma Kelly in Chicago in the West End in London from August 1999 to February 2000, alongside Chita Rivera as Roxie Hart.
In 2007 Pettiford won the Backstage Bistro Award for her cabaret debut at the Metropolitan Room, and won an NAACP Theatre Award for her lead role in The Wild Party. In 2008, she starred in a solo show, Valarie Pettiford - Thankful that played in New York and Los Angeles. In 2009, she starred in the solo show Valarie Pettiford - The Concert in Manhattan.
Pettiford's first film role was in 1978 at the age of 18 while still at the High School of Performing Arts, as part of the ensemble in The Wiz. She starred as Mariah Carey's mother in the 2001 film Glitter, had a part in Stomp the Yard in 2007, and played Aunt Geneva in the 2011 film, Jumping the Broom.
In the 1990s, Pettiford appeared on daytime soap operas, including Another World and One Life to Live (where she originated the role of Sheila Price). Her Half & Half role from 2002-6 as Big Dee Dee Thorne gained her three NAACP Image Award nominations. From 2008 to 2009, she played Sandra Lucas in the comedy-drama series Tyler Perry's House of Payne. She also appeared in the HBO pilot Anatomy of Hope, directed by JJ Abrams. And currently has a re-occurring role as the wife to Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) Assistant Director of the FBI Counter-Terrorism Division, on the NBC drama The Blacklist.