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Paula Jai Parker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Paula Jai Parker
Born (1969-08-19) August 19, 1969 (age 54)
EducationHoward University
Years active1992–present
Forrest Martin
(m. 2004)

Paula Jai Parker (born August 19, 1969)[1] is an American actress. She is best known for her supporting roles in the films Friday (1995), Sprung (1997), Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998), Phone Booth (2002), Hustle & Flow (2005), and Idlewild (2006), and for her roles on television sitcoms The Wayans Bros. (1995-1996), Family Time (2012-2019), Hollywood Divas (2014-2016), Ray Donovan (2016), Black Jesus (2019), A House Divided (2019-2022), and Queen Sugar (2021). Parker is also known for her voice of Trudy Proud in the Disney Channel animated comedy series, The Proud Family (2001-2005), which she reprised in the 2005 TV Movie The Proud Family Movie, and its 2022 reboot, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder.

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio,[1] Parker went to Shaker Heights High School but then graduated from Cleveland Heights High School due to racism in Shaker. For college she moved to Washington, D.C. to study at Howard University.[2] After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, she moved to New York City and played a number of clubs. From 1992 to 1993, she performed on the FOX comedy program The Apollo Comedy Hour, filmed live at the legendary Apollo Theater, and later was cast member on the short-lived sketch show, Townsend Television.[3]


In 1995, Parker made her film debut in the F. Gary Gray urban comedy Friday. In the same year, she earned a Cable ACE Award for her role in the HBO anthology presentation, Cosmic Slop.[4] Later that year, Parker returned to television in the WB sitcom, The Wayans Bros. opposite Shawn and Marlon Wayans. Throughout the 1990s, she appeared in several short-lived shows, including CBS sitcom The Weird Al Show (1997), and David E. Kelley's ABC comedy-drama, Snoops (1999).[2]

During the 1990s, Parker had supporting roles in a number of films. She has appeared in the 1995 horror anthology Tales from the Hood, Spike Lee's Million Man March drama Get on the Bus (1996), the urban comedy Sprung (1997), the Jada Pinkett Smith starring romantic comedy Woo (1997), and the Frankie Lymon biography, Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998). In the early 2000s, Parker co-starred in 30 Years to Life, High Crimes, Phone Booth, and My Baby's Daddy.[2] In 2004, she played a role in the LGBT comedy-drama, She Hate Me, and appeared as Ruth Brown in biographical film Ray. Her breakthrough was in the 2005 independent drama Hustle & Flow starring Terrence Howard. She later was cast opposite Howard in musical film Idlewild (2006).[5]

From 2001 to 2005, Parker voiced the matriarch Trudy Proud in the Disney Channel animated comedy series, The Proud Family[6] and its 2005 film The Proud Family Movie. She also played the iutstanding role of Billie Holiday on the episode of Touched by an Angel in 2000, and later guest-starred on The Shield, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, My Name Is Earl, and The Mentalist. She co-starred in the 2007 thriller film Cover starring Aunjanue Ellis, and in later years worked in low-profile independent movies.[5]

From 2013 to 2014, Parker had a recurring role in the HBO series True Blood during the show's seventh and final season. In 2014, she was cast as one of five leads on the TV One reality series, Hollywood Divas.[7] In 2015, Parker was cast in the recurring roles on the Amazon drama Hand of God, as well as Freeform series, Recovery Road.[8] In August 2016, she released an extended play album entitled "Paula Jai & Friends", which featured the single "Going Down".

Personal life[edit]

Parker married Forrest Martin in 2004. The couple met on the set of Hustle & Flow, where Forrest, who had just graduated with a Master of Fine Arts, was working as an intern.[9] She almost passed on shooting the critically acclaimed movie and only took the part at the urging of her manager.[10] They have one son.[11]


  • Paula Jai & Friends (2016)



Year Title Role Notes
1994 Cosmic Slop Tang TV movie
1995 Friday Joi
Tales from the Hood Sissy Johnson
1996 Don't Be a Menace to South Central Drunk Party Girl
Get on the Bus Jamilia
1997 Sprung Adina
1998 Always Outnumbered Melodie TV movie
Woo Claudette
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Paula King
1999 The Breaks Ann
2001 30 Years to Life Stephanie
2002 High Crimes Gracie
Phone Booth Felicia
2003 Love Chronicles Sara
2004 My Baby's Daddy Rolonda
She Hate Me Evelyn
Ray Ruth Brown
Konsequenz Baby Short
2005 Hustle & Flow Lexus
The Proud Family Movie Trudy Parker-Proud (voice) TV movie
Animal Reecy Video
2006 Idlewild Rose
The Genius Club Tatiana
2007 Cover Monica Wilson
2010 Confessions of A Lonely Wife -
2011 King of the Underground Elizabeth Gayle
2013 When a Woman's Fed Up Laticious
Life of a King Gina Sanders
Pastor Shirley Pastor Shirley
2014 4Play Linda
Patterns of Attraction Desiree Stewart
Act of Faith Shartruce
Assistant Motives Joyce Miller
You Me & Her Karen Short
2015 The Summoning Angela
2016 Last Call at Murray's Danice
She's Got a Plan Rhonda
Echo Park Blues CeCe McCoy Short
2017 The White Sistas Jordan White
2018 Taco Shop Eve
Hey, Mr. Postman! Ms. Kelly
2020 Blinders Evelyn
2022 A Miracle Before Christmas Martha
2023 Kings of L.A. Mason
Sasha Lanes Ashanti
The Furry Fortune June


Year Title Role Notes
1992-93 The Apollo Comedy Hour Herself Main Cast
1993 Townsend Television Herself Main Cast
1994 Soul Train Herself/Guest Host Episode: "CeCe Peniston/Outkast/Tashan"
Roc Jill Episode: "No Place Like Home"
1995 Pointman Udia Episode: "Silent Auction"
1995-96 The Wayans Bros. Mia Guest: Season 1, Recurring Cast: Season 2
1997 Riot Lisa Episode: "Homecoming Day"
The Parent 'Hood Sabrina Episode: "Wendell and I Spy"
The Weird Al Show Val Brentwood-Gal Spy Main Cast
Cosby Tanya Episode: "The Two Hilton Lucases"
1998 NYPD Blue Cara Wilson Episode: "Speak for Yourself, Bruce Clayton"
1999 Snoops Roberta Young Main Cast
2000 Touched by an Angel Billie Holiday Episode: "God Bless the Child"
2001-05 The Proud Family Trudy Parker-Proud (voice) Main Cast
2003 Gadget & the Gadgetinis Jeanette Sir (voice) Episode: "The General's Daughter"
2004 The Shield Desirae Episode: "Cracking Ice"
2005 Lilo & Stitch: The Series Trudy Parker-Proud (voice) Episode: "Spats: Experiment #397"
CSI: Miami Deana Walters/D-Nasty Episode: "Shattered"
2006 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Julia Beltran Episode: "Toe Tags"
2007 Side Order of Life Stargell Grant Recurring Cast
2008 My Name Is Earl Sylvia Episode: "Orphan Earl"
2009 Fear Itself Patty Orwell Episode: "Something with Bite"
2010 The Mentalist Astrid Episode: "Red Sky at Night"
Fish Hooks Yolanda (voice) Episode: "Hooray for Hamsterwood"
2011 Funny or Die Presents Paula Episode: "Episode #2.6"
2012 Let's Stay Together Sherry Steele Episode: "Inspect Me, Inspect Me Not"
The Exes Amelia Episode: "How Holly Got Her Groove Back"
2012-19 Family Time Lori Guest: Season 1, Recurring Cast: Season 2-7
2013 The Soul Man Drew Episode: "Bride and Prejudice"
2013-14 True Blood Karen Guest: Season 6, Recurring Cast: Season 7
2014 Front Seat Chronicles Rachel Episode: "See You in Court"
2014-16 Hollywood Divas Herself Main Cast
2015 Hand of God Ida Congdon Recurring Cast: Season 1
2016 Recovery Road Margarita Jean-Baptiste Recurring Cast
Ray Donovan Sylvie Starr Recurring Cast: Season 4
How To Get Away with Murder Yvonne Episode: "It's About Frank"
2017 NCIS: Los Angeles Ellie Episode: "Forasteira"
2019 9-1-1 Judith Spivey Episode: "Triggers"
Black Jesus Teresa Recurring Cast: Season 3
2019-22 Crown Lake Headmistress Catherine Merriweather Recurring Cast: Season 1-2, Main Cast: Season 3
2019-23 A House Divided Stephanie Sanders Main Cast
2020 Criminal Minds Captain Vivian Paige Episode: "Under the Skin"
Insecure Sheryl Episode: "Lowkey Feelin' Myself"
Etheria Karen Episode: "You Me & Her"
2021 Them Hazel Emory Recurring Cast
Queen Sugar Celine Recurring Cast: Season 6
Colin in Black & White Aunt Zora Episode: "Crystal"
2022 Celebrity Family Feud Herself/Contestant Episode: "Episode #9.2"
All Rise Charlene Addison Episode: "It Ain't Over Till It's Over"
American Gigolo Diamond Episode: "The Escape Wheel"
2022- The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder Trudy Parker-Proud (voice) Main Cast

Music Video[edit]

Year Song Artist
2001 "Girls, Girls, Girls" Jay-Z


Year Title
2007 Angels Can't Help But Laugh
2008 So You Want Michael Madsen?
2011 Kiss and Tell: The History of Black Romance in Movie
Mama & Me

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Recipient Outcome
1995 CableACE Award CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Drama "Cosmic Slop" Won
2006 Women Film Critics Circle Women Film Critics Circle Award for Best Comedic Performance "Hustle & Flow" Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
2020 Indie Series Awards Indie Series Award for Best Lead Actress — Drama "A House Divided" Nominated


  1. ^ a b Williams, Kam (August 6, 2005). "Exchanging pleasantries with Paula Jai Parker: The Hustle & Flow Interview with Kam Williams". The Baltimore Afro-American. p. B2. ProQuest 2669754977. Paula Jai Parker was born in Cleveland on Aug. 19, 1969. The pretty, butter-pecan performer has been working in Hollywood practically since the day she graduated from Howard University, embarking on a career that has already spanned more than 20 films and 10 TV series. See also:
  2. ^ a b c Paula Jai Parker Biography. AllMovie. Retrieved February 12, 2024.
  3. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1223. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
  4. ^ Moon, Spencer. Reel Black talk: a sourcebook of 50 American filmmakers, p. 169 (1997)
  5. ^ a b "Paula Jai Parker Homeless, 'Blackballed' By Hollywood - Essence.com". Essence.com. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  6. ^ Everything the Hottest Cartoon Voices Can't Live Without, VIBE (August 2003)
  7. ^ Tambay A. Obenson (16 May 2014). "TV One Expands 'Diva' Franchise w/ Launch of 'Hollywood D - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Archived from the original on 10 July 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  8. ^ [iaemagazine.com/featured/paula-jai-parker-stars-in-tvone-film-the-summoning/ Award-winning Actress, Paula Jai Parker, Discusses Her Lead In The New TV One Film – The Summoning]
  9. ^ (8 August 2005). Happy & In Love, Jet
  10. ^ "Paula Jai Parker Bio, Age, Net Worth, Career, Personal Life Facts". TheCelebritysBio. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  11. ^ "PAULA JAI PARKER'S ONEDERFUL SON". Black Celeb Kids. October 2, 2012. Archived from the original on August 7, 2016. Retrieved August 2, 2016.

External links[edit]