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Joy Bryant (born October 18, 1974) is an American actress and former fashion model. She has appeared in numerous films and television since beginning her acting career in 2001. Her accolades include two NAACP Image Award nominations, and one Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York City, Bryant was a gifted student and earned a scholarship to Yale University after high school. She began modeling in the mid-1990s after graduating from college, appearing in advertisements for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, and Victoria's Secret. She made her film debut in 2001's Carmen: A Hip Hopera.
Bryant had her breakthrough after being cast by Denzel Washington in his biographical drama film Antwone Fisher (2002), in which she played a U.S. Navy sailor. This was followed by a recurring guest role on the NBC series ER. Her subsequent film credits include the horror film The Skeleton Key and the drama Get Rich or Die Tryin' (both 2005), and the historical drama Bobby (2006).
In 2010, Bryant was cast in the role of Jasmine Trussell in the NBC family drama Parenthood, a role she portrayed for the series' entire six seasons before its finale in 2015. She has also appeared on television in guest roles on the series Girls (2017) and Ballers (2018).
Bryant was born in the Bronx, New York to Joyce Bryant. She was raised by her grandmother, who helped support her on welfare. She explained: "I grew up not really having a connection to my father." She started dancing at age three. Bryant would later reveal that she was conceived from a sexual assault against her mother, who was fifteen years old at the time of her birth, by an older adult male. Bryant stated: "[My mother] gave birth to me, not in love but in shame, after hiding her pregnancy from my grandmother for six months."
She described herself as a "nerd" growing up: "I read encyclopedias all day and watched TV. My grandmother, who raised me, emphasized the importance of education. For me it was about being self-sufficient and using my brain." While living in the Bronx, she graduated from CJHS 145x and was a member of the Fieldston Enrichment Program, an elite high school preparatory program. Bryant is a graduate of Westminster School, a boarding school in Simsbury, Connecticut. After graduating from Westminster, Bryant was accepted to Yale University, where she studied for two years before dropping out to pursue a modeling career.
Early on, Bryant played a small role in Ill Al Skratch's video "I'll Take Her". Bryant had modeling contracts with several brands, including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and RocaWear. She has also appeared in advertising for Gap and Victoria's Secret, and also starred in a Carlos Santana and Musiq Soulschild music video for the song "Nothing at All" opposite Connecticut born actor Andre Warmsley in 2004.
Her acting debut came in 2001 in Robert Townsend's Carmen: A Hip Hopera, in which she portrayed a fortune teller opposite Beyoncé and Rah Digga. After a small role in the action comedy Showtime, she made her big breakthrough in Denzel Washington's directorial debut, Antwone Fisher. In 2003, she co-starred in the Mario Van Peebles biopic Baadasssss!, followed by a recurring guest role on the drama series ER.
In 2005, she appeared in several high-profile films, including the horror filmThe Skeleton Key and the drama films London and Get Rich or Die Tryin', in the latter of which she played the childhood sweetheart of 50 Cent. In 2007, she had a minor part in the thriller film The Hunting Party starring Richard Gere and Terrence Howard, followed by a leading role in the ensemble comedy Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (2008). She also played the role of Tunde Adebimpe's love interest in "Will Do" a 2011 TV on the Radio music video.
From 2009—15, Bryant starred as Jasmine Trussell in Parenthood. BuddyTV ranked her #19 on its TV's 100 Sexiest Women of 2011 list. Also in 2015, she had a guest-starring role as Erica Kincaid, a doctor, on the series Rosewood. In 2017, she had a guest-starring role on the HBO series Girls. The following year, Bryant was cast in a recurring role on the sports drama series Ballers, playing a successful public defender and mother of a rising football star.
In October 2007 OK! reported that Bryant was engaged to stuntman Dave Pope, who she met on the set of Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. They married on June 28, 2008 in the Hamptons. She owns a ranch house in Glendale, California. She is an ambassador of Oxfam's Sisters on the Planet, an organization that helps women fight hunger, poverty and climate change. As of 2014, Bryant resided with her husband in Glendale.
TelevisionYear Title Role Notes
|2003–2004||ER||Valerie Gallant||3 episodes|
|2011||Love Bites||Angie||2 episodes|
|2015–2017||Rosewood||Dr. Erica Kincaid||7 episodes|
|2015||The Advocate||Dr. Ryan Clarke||Television film|
|2016||Good Girls Revolt||Eleanor Holmes Norton||10 episodes|
|2017||What Would Diplo Do?||Chandra||Episode: "Screwged"|
|2017||Girls||Marlowe||Episode: "Hostage Situation"|
|2018||Ballers||Jayda Crawford||6 episodes|
|2019||Trinkets||Lori Foster||6 episodes|
Awards and nominations
- ^ Harris, Margot (October 20, 2014). "Joy Bryant's 15 Most Flawless Beauty Moments". Vibe. Eldridge Industries. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ a b c Petit, Stephanie (November 15, 2017). "Joy Bryant Reveals She Was the Product of an Assault: 'My Mother Was the One Who Was Shamed'". People.
- ^ a b c Bryant, Joy (June 21, 2011). "Waste Not, Want Not". Elle. Hearst Communications. Archived from the original on November 25, 2013.
- ^ a b Fromm, Emily; Carter, Kelly (November 9, 2005). "5 Things You Gotta Know About Joy Bryant". People. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ "Parenthood actress Joy Bryant flaunts her perfect Miami bikini body as she holidays in the Sunshine State". Daily Mail. June 10, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- ^ Fromm, Emily (November 9, 2005). "5 Things You Gotta Know About Joy Bryant". People. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- ^ Trangle, Sarina (June 13, 2012). "Four decades of greatness". The Riverdale Press. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- ^ Bryant, Joy (February 14, 2018). "Joy Bryant". Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (Interview). Interviewed by Dax Shepard.
- ^ "Joy Bryant". Retrieved September 17, 2014.
- ^ "Carmen: A Hip Hopera". Variety. May 2, 2001. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ "Biography for Joy Bryant". Yahoo! Movies. Oath Inc. Archived from the original on July 12, 2005.
- ^ "Baadasssss!". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ "Joy Bryant: Credits". TV Guide. NTVB Media. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ Koehler, Robert (July 22, 2005). "The Skeleton Key". Variety. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ Scott, A.O. (November 9, 2005). "Even a Ruthless Thug Can Have a Sensitive Side". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ Gonzalez, Ed (August 22, 2007). "The Hunting Party". Slant Magazine. Slant Magazine LLC. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ "Movie Review: Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins". The Baltimore Sun. Baltimore, Maryland. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
- ^ "TV's 100 Sexiest Women of 2011". BuddyTV. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
- ^ Terrero, Nina (December 1, 2015). "Rosewood: Joy Bryant to guest-star". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
- ^ Bacle, Ariana (February 19, 2017). "Girls recap: 'Hostage Situation'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
- ^ Petski, Denise (February 27, 2018). "'Ballers': Joy Bryant Set To Recur In Season 4 Of HBO Series". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on October 16, 2018.
- ^ "OK! Exclusive: Joy Bryant Engaged!". OK!. October 31, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- ^ Orloff, Brian (June 28, 2008). "Joy Bryant Weds Stuntman Fiancé in the Hamptons". People. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- ^ "Joy Bryant". Oxfam America. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ Alcala, Natalie (November 6, 2014). "Donuts, Kung Fu, Vintage: Joy Bryant Reveals Her LA Hangouts". Racked. Los Angeles: Vox Media. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018.
- ^ "The 44th NAACP Image Awards - Nominations" (PDF). Naacpimageawards.net. December 11, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 29, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
Theater|Lois Smith’s Year of Working Constantly
- Nov. 20, 2015
In 1952, when Lois Smith was 22, she made her professional debut, playing the middle sister, an aspiring actress, in a frothy Broadway comedy called “Time Out for Ginger.” Brooks Atkinson called her characterization “bubbly and enchanting.” At the last performance, as she made her final exit, the veteran actor Melvyn Douglas closed the door behind her and ad-libbed, “She’s going to be a great actress, that kid.”
Mr. Douglas was right.
If Ms. Smith has never quite become a marquee name, she is an invaluable presence in film (“East of Eden,” “Five Easy Pieces”), television (“True Blood”) and theater (“Buried Child,” “The Trip to Bountiful”). She has an innate grace, a steely gaze and terrific posture. She is sweet and sharp, tender and very tough, unafraid to speak her mind. The playwright Annie Baker, in an email message, called her “intimidatingly cool.”
At 85, Ms. Smith is taking on two of the most challenging roles of her career in Jordan Harrison’s futuristic “Marjorie Prime,” a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, which opens on Dec. 14 at Playwrights Horizons. She plays Marjorie, a former violinist losing her memory. For comfort and company, her daughter and son-in-law set her up with a “Prime,” a sophisticated artificial intelligence holographic program, which in this case resembles her dead husband, Walter. The Prime can engage her in conversation and remind her of life events. Later in the play, Ms. Smith plays the Prime version of herself.
The Playwrights Horizons premiere concludes an eventful year for Ms. Smith, who found time before an afternoon rehearsal to chat about her life and work. She was dressed comfortably, if somewhat somberly, in black pants and a black blouse with large buttons, like an undertaker’s idea of casual Friday. Her feathery hair — half gray, half white — was pulled away from her ears.
“As I’ve gotten older, it’s not as though the parts have fallen away,” she said. “Just the opposite. I’ve been busy in more ways in the past year that I don’t think I could have fit in anything else.”
At this time last year, she had just finished starring in the world premiere of “Marjorie Prime” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. She filmed a role in the coming Russell Crowe/Ryan Gosling movie “The Nice Guys,” then flew to Chicago to appear in Steppenwolf’s production of Rory Kinnear’s “The Herd,” a performance The Chicago Tribune called “blistering.” Then she played a blind woman in Ms. Baker’s “John” Off Broadway, opening one scene with the terrific line, “That was around the time I went crazy.”
When that play closed, she began filming the movie version of “Marjorie Prime,” directed by Michael Almereyda. The shoot finished at 1 a.m. on the same day that rehearsals were to begin for the Playwrights Horizons version. Ms. Smith was right on time for the meet and greet.
“That’s more travel than I usually do or want to do,” she said tartly.
After all that tumult, playing Marjorie and her Prime counterpart ought to be relaxing; she’s already had two cracks at the role. But preparing the play with a different director (Les Waters directed it in Los Angeles, Anne Kauffman directs it here) means a certain amount of change, of choice, “of trying to reconcile things I think I know,” she said.
“It sometimes makes me cranky and sometimes excited,” she said. “It’s lovely and hard.”
Her work on “Marjorie Prime” began several years ago when another director, Pam MacKinnon, handed her the script. “I loved it the minute I saw it,” she said. “I just thought it was wonderful. I still do.” She liked the surprise of the science-fiction element, the slow and steady drip of revelation, the spareness of the writing.
This was lucky, because Mr. Harrison — an inventive playwright with two other plays, “Futura” and “Maple and Vine,” considering how people use technology — had written it just for her. He knew he needed someone who could characterize both Marjorie’s cutting intelligence and accompanying vagueness as her memory gives way. “Lois makes her a continuous person,” Mr. Harrison said. “The warmth and the sharpness are there in equal measure.”
Ms. Smith began performing as a toddler in plays that her father, a telephone company employee, directed at churches the family belonged to. She studied acting for a couple of years at the University of Washington and then later at the Actors Studio. She took the roles that came her way and said she didn’t think there was anything unusual about her acting process. “I don’t have any secret systems,” she said. Then she paused and smiled slightly. “Maybe everything that goes through oneself is secret in a way.”
Her work on a script is a fairly intense process of getting acquainted, like a long, successful blind date or perhaps a fortuitous arranged marriage. “Learning how it relates to me and me to it, that’s great fun,” she said.
Some actors her age rely on earpieces for help with their lines. She does not. For the past 25 years, she has made sure she is word-perfect before the first day of rehearsal. “I really now treasure the time alone with the script,” she said. “I learn it better; I learn it deeper.”
Colleagues describe her as an astute and searching collaborator. Ms. Kauffman, speaking by telephone, called Ms. Smith “a force to be reckoned with and also very, very kind.” The playwright Amy Herzog, who worked with her on “After the Revolution,” called her “offended by cliché,” to the point that Ms. Smith persuaded her to change a line in the script that smacked too much of “a familiar Jewish Grandma-ism. She was right.”
Similarly, Mr. Harrison has found, “She never feels like we’re penetrating enough. She’s the opposite of glib.”
Following the Taper premiere of “Marjorie Prime,” he and Ms. Smith forged a friendship. They see plays and screenings. They drink at seedy bars and trade “salty theater tales.” He gave her a bottle of tequila for her birthday. Still, he was careful in describing their relationship, fearing that “if I tell a story like, ‘She’s so vital at 85,’” Ms. Smith would respond with a swift kick.
Ms. Smith is vital at 85, but it’s the same vitality she has always had. Mr. Almereyda, who was moved to make the film of “Marjorie Prime” after seeing Ms. Smith in the play, described watching a screen test that she and James Dean had made for “East of Eden” 60 years ago. She has “the same otherworldly look in the eyes,” he wrote in an email, “the same bewitching crooked smile. There’s no one like her.”
If she seems a natural at playing Marjorie, a woman losing her memory and her autonomy, it is deceptive. “She really has to act that,” Mr. Almereyda wrote. “Lois carries a spark, an eagerness and alertness, even in repose.”
Not that repose is something she has a lot of time for. Ms. Smith lives alone, in the same apartment on 86th Street she has inhabited for 40 years, though her grandchildren are occasional visitors. Asked if she would like a Prime — an understanding and sympathetic companion whom Ms. Smith described as “a hopeful replica” of a living person — she demurred. “I think this is for another time of life,” she said.
Right now, she’d be much too busy to pay it any attention.