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Lynn Whitfield (née Butler-Smith) is a recurring actress on How to Get Away with Murder, who portrays the role of Mary Walker.

Biography

Early Life

Whitfield was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the daughter of Jean (née Butler), an officer of a finance agency, and Valerian Smith, a dentist.[1] She is the eldest of four children and a third-generation BFA graduate from Howard University. Her dentist father was instrumental in developing Lynn's initial interest in acting as he was a prime figure in forming community theater in her native Baton Rouge. First garnering attention on the stage by studying and performing with the Black Repertory Company in Washington, D.C, she married one of the company's co-founders and pioneers of black theatre, playwright/director/actor Vantile Whitfield in 1974. She eventually moved to New York and appeared off-Broadway in such shows as The Great Macdaddy and Showdown before earning acclaim in the 1977 Los Angeles production of the landmark play 'for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf' co-starring alongside Alfre Woodard.[2]

Career

In 2000s, Whitfield had many supporting roles on television and film. She co-starred in the Chris Rock's comedy film, Head of State (2003), and Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion (2006). Whitfield also appeared in The Women (2008), The Rebound (2009) and Mama, I Want to Sing (2011), and had many roles in a low-profile B-Movies. She also starred as Dorthea Garibaldi in both Disney Channel films The Cheetah Girls and The Cheetah Girls 2. On television, Whitfield had recurring roles on Boston Public and Without a Trace in 2000s. From 2014 to 2015, she appeared in the ABC legal drama, How to Get Away with Murder as villainous Mary Walker.[3] She also had the recurring role on Hit the Floor,[4] and appeared as a April's (Rochelle Aytes) abusive mother on Mistresses.[5] In 2015, Whitfield was cast in series regular role of main villain in the Oprah Winfrey Network original scripted drama series Greenleaf about unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family and their sprawling Memphis megachurch. Whitfield plays the leading role of Lady Mae Greenleaf, the imperious Minister's wife and power and money hungry matriarch of the family.[6][7] The series also stars Keith David, Merle Dandridge, Kim Hawthorne and Oprah Winfrey. Whitfield has received positive reviews from critics for her performance as Lady Mae.[8][9] One critic stated "Whitfield has the imperious aura of a grand soap opera diva in the tradition of Joan Collins."[10]

References

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