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Hamilton with her Peabody Award, 2005
|Born||March 25, 1964|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Education||Carnegie Mellon University|
New York University (BFA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)
Robin D. G. Kelley (m. 2009)
LisaGay Hamilton (born March 25, 1964) is an American actress who has portrayed roles in films, television, and on stage. She is best known for her role as attorney Rebecca Washington on the ABC's legal drama The Practice (1997-2003). She also portrayed Melissa Thoreau on the TNT comedy-drama Men of a Certain Age (2009-2011), Celia Jones on the Netflix series House of Cards (2016), Suzanne Simms on the Hulu series Chance (2016), and Kayla Price on the Hulu series The First (2018).
Hamilton’s film credits include roles in 12 Monkeys (1995), Jackie Brown (1997), Beloved (1998), True Crime (1999), The Sum of All Fears (2002), The Soloist (2009), Beastly (2011), Beautiful Boy (2018), and Vice (2018). Her theater credits include Measure for Measure (Isabella), Henry IV Parts I & II (Lady Hotspur), Athol Fugard’s, Valley Song and The Ohio State Murders. Hamilton was also an original cast member in the Broadway productions of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Gem of the Ocean. In 2005 she won a Peabody Award for creating and directing the 2003 documentary film Beah: A Black Woman Speaks.
Hamilton was born in Los Angeles, California but spent most of her childhood in Stony Brook, New York on Long Island. Her father, Ira Winslow Hamilton, Jr., hailed from Bessemer, Alabama, and her mother, the former Eleanor Albertine "Tina" Blackwell, was from Meridian, Mississippi. Both parents graduated from historically black colleges—Tina attended Talladega while Ira went to Morehouse—and they both became successful professionals. Ira worked for a while as an engineer and then went into business as a general contractor. Tina eventually earned a master's degree in social work and worked for the Girl Scouts for many years.
Hamilton fell in love with theater at an early age. During the 1970s, she saw several off-Broadway productions by the Negro Ensemble Company, including A Soldier's Story and The First Breeze of Summer. She enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University to study theater, but after a year was accepted into New York University’s Tisch Drama School where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater in 1985. She then pursued graduate studies at the The Juilliard School where she earned a M.A. in Drama in 1989.
Early on, Hamilton set her sights on classical theater. In one of her first notable roles, she played opposite Kevin Kline in Measure for Measure in the New York Shakespeare Festival. Her performances in Much Ado About Nothing, Tartuffe, Reckless, Family of Mann, and Two Gentlemen of Verona, earned her a reputation as a serious dramatic actor. In 1995-96, her portrayal of a young, aspiring South African singer in Athol Fugard's Valley Song garnered an Obie Award, the Clarence Derwent Award, the Ovation nomination for best actress, and a Drama Desk nomination. More recently, Hamilton earned critical acclaim, her second Obie, and a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for her role as Suzanne Alexander in Adrienne Kennedy’s, The Ohio State Murders.
Hamilton appeared in over two dozen films, including The Truth About Charlie and Beloved for director Jonathan Demme, Clint Eastwood’s True Crime, the independent films; Palookaville, Drunks, Showtime’s A House Divided, and as Ophelia in director Campbell Scott’s film version of Hamlet. She has worked on several projects with director Rodrigo García, notably his films Ten Tiny Love Stories, Nine Lives, and Mother and Child. Honeydripper directed by John Sayles and The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright.
Hamilton won a Peabody Award in 2005 for creating and directing the 2003 documentary film Beah: A Black Woman Speaks. The film tells the story of pioneering black actress Beah Richards, who had broken ground for African-American actresses. The two women had met on the set of Beloved (1998). Over the next two years, Hamilton made a record of more than 70 hours of their conversations. Hamilton's film explored Richards' political activism as well as her poetry. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Film Festival. After Richards died in 2000, Hamilton collaborated with illustrator R. Gregory Christie to turn one of her poems into a children's book. Keep Climbing Girls was published by Simon and Schuster in 2006.
|1990||Reversal of Fortune||Mary|
|1993||Naked in New York||Marty|
|1997||Nick and Jane||Vickie|
|1998||Halloween H20: 20 Years Later||Shirley 'Shirl' Jones (voice)|
|1999||True Crime||Bonnie Beechum|
|2002||The Sum of All Fears||Capt. Lorna Shiro|
|2002||Ten Tiny Love Stories||Three|
|2002||The Truth About Charlie||Lola Jansco|
|2008||Deception||Det. J Russo|
|2009||The Soloist||Jennifer Ayers|
|2009||Mother and Child||Leticia|
|2012||The Hypnotist||The Hypnotist||Short film|
|2013||Go for Sisters||Bernice|
|2013||Life of a King||Sheila King|
|2019||Ad Astra||Adjutent General Amelia Vogel||In post-production|
|2019||The Last Full Measure||Celia||In post-production|
|1993||Homicide: Life on the Street||Latoya Kennedy||"A Dog and a Pony Show"|
|1994||All My Children||Celia Wilson||TV series|
|1994||New York Undercover||Suki||"To Protect and Serve"|
|1995||Law & Order||Denise Johnson||"Purple Heart"|
|1995||Clarissa||Porter Russell||TV film|
|1996||One Life to Live||Dr. Laura Reed||TV series|
|1997-2003||The Practice||Rebecca Washington||Series regular|
|1998||The Defenders: Choice of Evils||Jeanne Baptiste||TV film|
|1998||Ally McBeal||Rebecca Washington||"The Inmates"|
|1999||Swing Vote||Virginia Mapes||TV film|
|2000||A House Divided||Julia||TV film|
|2002||Sex and the City||Kendall||"Critical Condition"|
|2005||ER||Nadine Hopkins||"All About Christmas Eve"|
|2006||Without a Trace||Sherise Gibbs||"The Calm Before"|
|2006||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Teresa Randall||"Venom"|
|2007||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Teresa Randall||"Screwed"|
|2007||Numb3rs||Sari Kinshasa||"Money for Nothing"|
|2009-2011||Men of a Certain Age||Melissa Thoreau||Series regular|
|2013||Grey's Anatomy||Dr. Connie Ryan||"Readiness Is All", "Perfect Storm"|
|2013||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Teresa Randall||"Presumed Guilty"|
|2014||Line of Sight||Ruby Jensen||TV film|
|2014||Grimm||Mrs. Pittman||"The Last Fight"|
|2014||Scandal||Ambassador||"Where the Sun Don't Shine"|
|2016||House of Cards||Celia Jones||Recurring role|
|2016||The Wilding||Emily Bergom||"Pilot"|
|2016||Chance||Suzanne Silver||Series regular|
|2018||The First||Kayla Price||Series regular|
|2018||Sorry for Your Loss||Bobby Greer||Episode: "I Hate Chess"|
Awards and nominations
|1999||Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Ensemble||The Practice||Nominated|
|2000||Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Ensemble||The Practice||Nominated|
|2000||NAACP Image Award, Outstanding Actress||The Practice||Nominated|
|2000||NAACP Image Award, Outstanding Actress||True Crime||Nominated|
|2000||Black Reel Awards, Best Supporting Actress||True Crime||Nominated|
|2001||Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Ensemble||The Practice||Nominated|
|2003||AFI Fest, Documentary Award||Beah: A Black Woman Speaks||Won|
|2004||Miami International Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize||Beah: A Black Woman Speaks||Nominated|
|2005||Black Reel Awards||Beah: A Black Woman Speaks||Nominated|
|2005||Locarno International Film Festival, Best Actress||Nine Lives||Won|
|2005||Gotham Awards, Best Ensemble||Nine Lives||Nominated|
|2011||Gotham Awards, Best Ensemble||Take Shelter||Nominated|
|2012||NAMIC Vision Awards, Best Performance||Men of a Certain Age||Nominated|
|2014||Black Reel Awards, Outstanding Actress||Go for Sisters||Nominated|
|2014||American Black Film Festival, Hollywood Award||Go for Sisters||Nominated|
|2014||Lady Filmmakers Film Festival, Best Actress||Redemption Trail||Won|
- LisaGaye Hamilton, 'Growing Up Female is a Journey,' in Becoming Myself: Reflections on Growing Up Female, ed. By Willa Shalit, (New York: Hyperion Books, 2006)
- Robin D. G. Kelley, 'Freedom is Living': LisaGaye Hamilton’s Radical Imagination,' Transforming Anthropology 14, no. 1 (April 2006), 2-9.
- S. Torriano Berry (2015). Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 198.
- - Charles Isherwood, 'A College is Stalked By Attitude,' New York Times, November 7, 2007
- "LisaGay Hamilton : Official Website, Film, Television and Theater Actress and Director, The Practice, Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, Beloved". www.lisagayhamilton.com.