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In 2012 Lewis began working with Shangela on the online reality show parody, "Jenifer Lewis and Shangela," where she acts as herself alongside Shangela, a "drag queen living in her basement." She later appeared in Shangela's music video for "Werqin Girl (Professional)". Jenifer Lewis is one of Hollywood's most familiar faces, with more than 300 appearances in film and television. Dubbed a "national treasure" by TV Guide.com, Jenifer stars on the hit show Black-ish (ABC), where her hilarious portrayal of "Ruby Johnson" earned her a nomination for the 2016 Critics Choice Award. "Jenifer Lewis Opens Up About Battle With Bipolar Disorder". BET.com. 28 January 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2016. Pennington, Gail (2 October 2011). "Actress Jenifer Lewis says Kinloch helped shape her". STLtoday.com. Retrieved 23 June 2020. Freeman, Dennis J. (October 22, 2010). "Jenifer Lewis Talks About Love, Happiness and the Hereafter". News4usonline. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
In 1992, Lewis was cast as one of the back-up singers to Whoopi Goldberg in the comedy film Sister Act. The following year, Lewis played the mother of Tupac Shakur's character in the film Poetic Justice, and as Zelma Bullock, Tina Turner's mother, in the biopic What's Love Got to Do With It starring Angela Bassett. Lewis has stated she never auditioned to play Tina Turner, but would have been thrilled to play the iconic Tina Turner. Lewis is only one year older than Bassett. For her performance, she received her first NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture nomination. In 1994, she followed with other comedic supporting roles, including Mrs. Coleman the Unemployment Office lady in Renaissance Man and as Whoopi Goldberg's sister in Corrina, Corrina. In 1995, she was cast in maternal roles to Kadeem Hardison in Panther and to Larenz Tate in Dead Presidents. Jenifer Lewis is one of Hollywood's most familiar faces, with more than 300 appearances in film and television. Dubbed a "national treasure" by TV Guide.com, Jenifer stars on the hit show Black-ish (ABC), where her hilarious portrayal of "Ruby Johnson" earned her a nomination for the 2016 Critics Choice Award.
Lewis currently stars in the critically-acclaimed ABC sitcom “Black-ish,” with other TV roles including “Strong Medicine” and “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square.” She has also starred in films such as “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “The Preacher’s Wife,” “Think Like a Man,” “The Wedding Ringer,” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.” (Source: variety.com)
Nicknamed the Black Mother of Hollywood, Jenifer Lewis played dozens of maternal figures during a prolific screen career, most notably Zelma Bullock in Tina Turner biopic "What's Love Got to Do With It" (1993) and Ruby Johnson in socially-conscious sitcom "Black-ish" (ABC, 2014-). Born in St. Louis, MO in 1957, Lewis studied theatre at Webster University before moving to New York to pursue a performing career. After making her Broadway debut in "Eabie," she was invited to join Bette Midler's backing band, The Staggering Harlettes, who performed with the star on various HBO specials and in "Beaches" (1988). Switching her focus to acting, Lewis played a judge in "Red Heat" (1988), back-up singer in "Sister Act" (1992) and college dean in "A Different World" (NBC, 1987-1993), and in 1991 joined "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" cast (NBC, 1990-96) as Aunt Helen. Her breakthrough came when she portrayed Tina Turner's real-life mother in "What's Love Got to Do With It" (1993). Lewis subsequently played maternal figures in "Poetic Justice" (1993), "The Meteor Man" (1993), "Panther" (1995), "Dead Presidents" (1995) and "The Preacher's Wife" (1996), but proved there was more to her talents when she became the first actress to play an African-American lesbian character in legal drama "Courthouse" (CBS, 1995). There were also memorable supporting roles as Whoopi Goldberg's sister in "Corrina, Corrina" (1994), sex line boss Lil in "Girl 6" (1996) and school principal Mrs. Addison in "The Mighty" (1998). After adding "An Unexpected Life" (1998), "Blast from the Past" (1999) and "Mystery Men" (1999) to her credits, she enjoyed a rare leading role in "Jackie's Back" (1999), a mockumentary about an aging soul diva's comeback attempt, played Tom Hanks' boss in "Cast Away" (2000) and voiced Bebe Ho in "The PJs" (Fox, 1999-2002). She landed her longest-recurring role when she was cast as receptionist Lana Hawkins in "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000-06). During her six-year stint on the medical drama she also performed the theme tune to, Lewis returned to motherly roles in "Little Richard" (2000), "The Brothers" (2001) and "Girlfriends" (UPN, 2002-08), and played aunts in "Juwanna Mann" (2002), "Antwone Fisher" (2002) and "Dirty Laundry" (2006). She also assumed the titular role in "Nora's Hair Salon" (2004) and voiced the Motown Turtle in "Shark Tale" and Flo in "Cars" (2006). Lewis then showed up in Tyler Perry's "Madea's Family Reunion" (2006) and "Meet the Browns" (2008), played mom in "Who's Your Caddy?" (2007), "Not Easily Broken" (2009), "Hereafter" (2010), "Think Like A Man" (2012) and "Baggage Claim" (2013), and voiced Mama Odie in "The Princess and the Frog" (2009) and Gogo in "Zambezia" (2012). There was also a recurring role as seamstress Pearl in "The Playboy Club" (NBC, 2011) and supporting parts in "Five" (2011), "Playin' for Love" (2013), "Secrets of the Magic City" (2014), "The Wedding Ringer" (2015) and "It Had To Be You" (2015). Lewis also became a regular prime-time face again when she was cast as Anthony Anderson's overbearing mother Ruby Johnson on "Black-ish" (ABC, 2014-). (Source: www.rottentomatoes.com)