May 30, 1962|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Carnegie Mellon University|
Columbia College Chicago (BA)
California Western School of Law
Tonya Pinkins (born May 30, 1962) is an American television, film and theater actress and author known for her portrayal of Livia Frye on the soap opera All My Children and for her roles on Broadway. She has been nominated for three Tony Awards (won one), and has won the Obie, 2 Lortel Awards, the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, AUDLECO, Garland, L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, Clarence Derwent and NAACP Theater Awards. She has been nominated for the Olivier, Helen Hayes, Noel, Joseph Jefferson, NAACP Image, Soap Opera Digest and Ovation awards. She won the Tony for Jelly's Last Jam.
Pinkins was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her father was a police officer and insurance salesman, and her mother is a former postal worker. She has two brothers, Eric and Thomas Swoope, and a sister Tamera Swoope.
Pinkins was interested in the arts from a young age. In high school, she studied acting at the Goodman Theatre Young People's Program. She attended Carnegie Mellon University's BFA Musical Theatre program, but was cast in Merrily We Roll Along and decided to pursue her career, instead. Pinkins later returned to college, earning an undergraduate degree in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago in 1996, followed by a year at California Western School of Law in San Diego.
Pinkins is probably most admired for her stage work. She won a Tony Award for her performance as Sweet Anita in Jelly's Last Jam. She was nominated for her roles in Play On! and in Caroline, or Change, where she played the title role. Her additional Broadway credits include Merrily We Roll Along, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, The Wild Party, House of Flowers, Radio Golf, A Time To Kill  and Holler If Ya Hear Me. Pinkins has performed in several Off Broadway productions, including the comic role of Mopsa, the Shepherdess, in The Winter's Tale produced by the Riverside Shakespeare Company at The Shakespeare Center in 1983.
In 2011, Pinkins starred in the world premiere of Kirsten Greenidge's Milk Like Sugar at La Jolla Playhouse, and received a 2012 Craig Noel nomination for Best featured Actress in a Play. She reprised her role in the Playwrights Horizons in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, and garnered a 2012 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play. In 2012, Pinkins starred in Katori Hall's play Hurt Village, the gritty drama about life and change in a Memphis housing project made its world-premiere at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company as part of the theatre's inaugural season. In 2014, Pinkins appeared in New Federal Theatre's revival of Ed Bullins' The Fabulous Miss Marie opposite Roscoe Orman; in the Broadway production of Holler If Ya Hear Me; and the world premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' War at Yale Repertory. She has also had a prolific television career making guest appearances on such television shows as Army Wives, 24, Law & Order, The Cosby Show, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, and The Guardian among others. During the mid-1980s Pinkins created the role of Heather Dalton on the CBS soap, As the World Turns. In 1991 she was cast as Livia Frye in All My Children. Pinkins left All My Children in 1995 but returned to her role in 2003.
She was later put on contract with the show from March 2004 until June 2006, when she was downgraded to recurring status. She has played Amala Motobo on the popular television show 24. Since 2015 Pinkins has played Ethel Peabody on the television show Gotham. In 2016 she played Mimi Corcoran on the Hulu science fiction limited series 11.22.63, based on the Stephen King book of the same name, and starring James Franco and Sarah Gadon. On March 16, 2017 Pinkins portrayed Sandra in the ABC television series Scandal. Pinkins appeared in several films in supporting roles, including Newlyweeds, Home, Fading Gigolo opposite Woody Allen, Enchanted, Premium, Romance & Cigarettes, Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom and Above the Rim among others. Pinkins performs several cabaret shows including Bring On The Men with Brad Simmons, Tonya Pinkins UnPlugged at The National Black Theater Festival and Hurricane Ethel.
|1980||Growing Up Young||Carol||Short|
|1989||See No Evil, Hear No Evil||Leslie|
|1994||Above the Rim||Mailika|
|2002||Love Hurts||Auntie V|
|2008||Noah's Ark: Jumping the Broom||Mrs. Robinson|
|2015||Ori Inu: In Search of Self||Mama Lola||Short|
|2016||Collective: Unconscious||Ripa||Segment: "Everybody Dies!"|
|2017||The Book of Henry||Principal Wilder|
|2017||Fearless Love||Det. Cambridge||Short, completed|
|2017||My Days of Mercy||Agatha||Post-production|
|2017||An Act of Terror||Mary Church Terrell||Short, post-production|
|1984-1986||As the World Turns||Heather Dalton||Recurring role|
|1986||Rage of Angels: The Story Continues||Sharon||TV film|
|1990||The Cosby Show||Iris||"Elvin Pays for Dinner"|
|1991-1994||All My Children||Livia Frye||Recurring role|
|1994||Against Their Will: Women in Prison||Sondra||TV film|
|1995||University Hospital||Nurse Mary Jenkins||Main role|
|2002||The Guardian||Melinda Tralins||"In Loco Parentis"|
|2004-2009||All My Children||Livia Frye||Recurring role|
|2005||Sleeper Cell||Anita Al-Sayeed||"Family"|
|2006||Criminal Minds||Det. Nora Bennett||"A Real Rain"|
|2006||Cold Case||Dina Miller||"The River"|
|2006||Law & Order||Angela Young||"Hindsight"|
|2007||Unfabulous||Ms. Best||"The Toot"|
|2008||The Closer||Donna Taft||"Split Ends"|
|2009||24||Alama Matobo||Guest role|
|2009||Army Wives||Viola Crawford||Recurring role|
|2013||Hostages||Beth Nix||"2:45 PM"|
|2015||Nurse Jackie||Charlane||"Deal", "Nice Ladies"|
|2015||For Justice||Marian Horn||TV film|
|2016||11.22.63||Mia Mimi Corcoran||TV miniseries|
|2015-16||Gotham||Ethel Peabody||Recurring role|
|2016-17||Madam Secretary||Susan Thompson||"The Dissent Memo", "The Detour"|
|2017||Scandal||Sandra||"Extinction", "A Traitor Among Us", "Trojan Horse"|
|2017||The Strain||Francis||"Belly of the Beast"|
|2017||The Elephant in the Room||Mama||TV film, post-production|
|2018||Fear the Walking Dead||Martha||Season 4|