Phylicia Rashad

Real Name : Phylicia Ayers-Allen

Born: 06/19/1948 (73 yo)
Birth place: Houston, Texas (USA)

Citizenship : USA

Occupation : Actress


Phylicia Rashad is an American Tony Award-winning actress and singer, best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show.

In 2004, Rashad became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. She resumed the role in the 2008 television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, which earned her the 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. Rashad was dubbed "The Mother" of the African-American community at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards.


Rashad was born in Houston, Texas. Her mother, Vivian Ayers, was a Pulitzer-prize nominated artist, poet, playwright, scholar, and publisher. Her father, Andrew Arthur Allen (d. 1984), was an orthodontist.Rashad's siblings are jazz-musician brother Tex (Andrew Arthur Allen, Jr., born 1945), sister Debbie Allen (1950), an actress, choreographer, and director, and brother Hugh Allen (a real estate banker in North Carolina). While Rashad was growing up, her family moved to Mexico, and as a result, Rashad speaks Spanish fluently.

Rashad studied at Howard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1970 with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts.


Rashad first became notable on the stage with a string of Broadway credits, including Deena Jones in Dreamgirls (she was Sheryl Lee Ralph's understudy until she left the show in 1982 after Rashad was passed over as Ralph's full-time replacement) and playing a Munchkin in The Wiz. In 1978, she released the album Josephine Superstar, a disco Concept album telling the life story of Josephine Baker. The album was mainly written and produced by Jacques Morali and Rashad's second husband Victor Willis, original lead singer and lyricist of the Village People. She met Willis while they were both cast in The Wiz.

Other Broadway credits include August: Osage County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gem of the Ocean, Raisin in the Sun (2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play/Drama Desk Award), Blue, Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, and Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death. Off-Broadway credits include Lincoln Center’s productions of Cymbeline and Bernarda Alba (musical); Helen, The Story and Everybody's Ruby at the Public Theater; The Negro Ensemble Company productions of Puppet Play, Zooman and the Sign, Sons and Fathers of Sons, In an Upstate Motel, Weep Not For Me, and The Great Mac Daddy; Lincoln Center's production of Ed Bullins' The Duplex; and The Sirens at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In regional theatre, she performed as Euripedes' Medea and in Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Other regional theatres at which she has performed are the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and the Huntington Theatre in Boston.

In 2007, Rashad made her directorial debut with the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.

Film and television

Rashad received a career boost when she joined the cast of the ABC soap opera One Life to Live to play publicist Courtney Wright in 1983. She is best known for another television role, that of attorney Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. The show starred Bill Cosby as obstetrician Cliff Huxtable, and focused on their life with their five children.

When Cosby returned to TV comedy in 1996 with CBS's Cosby, he called on Rashad to play Ruth Lucas, his character's wife. The pilot episode had been shot with Telma Hopkins, but Cosby then fired the executive producer and replaced Hopkins with Rashad. The sitcom ran from 1996 to 2000. That year, Cosby asked Rashad to work on his animated television series Little Bill, in which the actress voiced Bill's mother, Brenda, until the show's end in 2002. She also played a role in the pre-show of the "Dinosaur" ride at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park as Dr. Helen Marsh, the head of the Dino Institute.

She played Kill Moves' affluent mother on Everybody Hates Chris on Sunday, December 9, 2007. In 2007 she appeared as Winnie Guster in the Psych episode Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy. She returned to the role in 2008, in the episode Christmas Joy.

In February 2008, she appeared in the television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun. She starred on Broadway as Big Mama in an all-African American production of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof directed by her sister Debbie Allen. She appeared alongside stage veterans James Earl Jones (Big Daddy) and Anika Noni Rose (Maggie), as well as film actor Terrence Howard, who makes his Broadway debut as Brick. She will appear as Violet Weston, the drug-addicted matriarch of Tracy Lett's award-winning play, August: Osage County at the Music Box Theatre.

In November 2010, Rashad  starred in the Tyler Perry film For Colored Girls, based on the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange.

Personal life

Rashad's first marriage, in 1972, was to dentist William Lancelot Bowles, Jr. They had one son, William Lancelot Bowles III, who was born the following year. The marriage ended in 1975. Rashad then married Victor Willis (original lead singer of the Village People) in 1978. Their divorce was finalized in 1982.

She married former NFL wide receiver and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad on December 14, 1985. It was a third marriage for both of them and she took his last name. They were married after he proposed to her during a pregame show for a nationally televised Thanksgiving Day football game between the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions on November 28, 1985. Their daughter, Condola Phyleia Rashad, was born on December 11, 1986 in New York. The couple divorced in early 2001, but she kept the name Rashad.



  • 1976 Delvecchio
  • 1983–84 One Life to Live
  • 1984–92 The Cosby Show
  • 1985 Santa Barbara        
  • 1985 The Love Boat       
  • 1987 Uncle Tom's Cabin              
  • 1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday      
  • 1988–90 A Different World        
  • 1989 False Witness        
  • 1989 Polly          
  • 1990 Reading Rainbow
  • 1990 Polly: Comin' Home!          
  • 1991 Jailbirds    
  • 1991 Blossom   
  • 1993 American Playhouse          
  • 1994 David's Mother     
  • 1994-2002 Touched by an Angel              
  • 1995 The Possession of Michael D          
  • 1995 In the House          
  • 1995 Once Upon a Time...
  • 1996 The Babysitter's Seduction             
  • 1996–2000 Cosby           
  • 1998 Intimate Portrait  
  • 1999 Free of Eden          
  • 2000 Loving Jezebel                      
  • 2000 The Visit                   
  • 2001 The Old Settler
  • 2001–04  Little Bill           
  • 2003 Great Women of Television and Comedy
  • 2007 Working in the Theatre     
  • 2007 Everybody Hates Chris      
  • 2007–08 Psych
  • 2008 A Raisin in the Sun              
  • 2008 The Life & Times of Tim    
  • 2010 Just Wright                             
  • 2010 Frankie & Alice                      
  • 2010 For Colored Girls                  
  • 2012 Good Deeds          
  • 2012 The Cleveland Show
  • 2012 Steel Magnolias
  • 2013 Gods Behaving Badly
  • 2013 Do No Harm


  • 1985, 1986: two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, for The Cosby Show
  • 1997, 1998: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for Cosby; nominated the following for the same award
  • 1999: nominated for Satellite Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy for Cosby
  • 2002: nominated for NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for The Old Settler
  • 2003: honored as Woman of the Year by the Harvard Black Men's Forum
  • 2004: the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. She was nominated for the same award the following year, for Gem of the Ocean. Also, the 2008 television adaption of A Raisin in the Sun earned her the 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
  • 2005: received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.) degree from Brown University
  • 2008: nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, and Satellite Award for Best Actress - Miniseries or Television Film for A Raisin in the Sun
  • 2009: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special, and nominated for Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie for A Raisin in the Sun
  • 2011: Outstanding Supporting Actress award at the Black Reel Awards for her role in For Colored Girls, which also earned her a 2011 NAACP Image Award nomination for NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
  • 2011: received an honorary doctorate degree from Spelman College for her work in the Arts
  • 2011: named the first Denzel Washington Chair professor in Theatre at Fordham University, supported by a $2 million gift from the actor