Jenifer Jeanette Lewis is an American actress, singer and activist. She began her career appearing in Broadway musicals and worked as a back-up singer for Bette Midler before appearing in films Beaches (1988) and Sister Act (1992).
Family Background and Education
Jenifer Jeanette Lewis was born on 25 January 1957, in St. Louis, Missouri USA, and is an actress known for appearing in Broadway musicals as well as films. She was a part of Sister Act, Beaches, and The Preacher’s Wife, but all of her endeavors have helped put her net worth to where it is today.
How rich is Jenifer Lewis? As of early-2017, sources estimate a net worth that is at $2 million, mostly earned through a successful career as an actress. Aside from her numerous films, she’s also been a part of television series and mini-series, including Strong Medicine, Girlfriends, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. As she continues her career it is expected that her wealth will increase.
Jenifer attended Kinloch High School, and after matriculating went to Webster University, then after graduating, she moved to New York to pursue a career as a performer. She appeared in various Broadway musicals including Eubie in which she was cast as the titular character. She was also considered for a role in the hit musical Dreamgirls, but then went to work as a background singer for Bette Midler. The two also worked together in the film Beaches which would start to open up more on-screen opportunities for her. She also developed a nightclub act, and was a Pre-Show announcer at Disneyland’s Star Tours.
In 1990, Lewis moved to Los Angeles and started being cast in various television shows, including Dream On, In Living Color, and Friends. She appeared in the final season of A Different World and had recurring appearances in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from 1991 to 1996. She was also cast in the short lived drama Courthouse. During this time she became part of the comedy film Sister Act which starred Whoopi Goldberg, and continued with more films such as Poetic Justice and What’s Love Got To Do With It.
Her performance in that film earned her a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. Other films she was cast in during this period include Renaissance Man, Panther and Dead Presidents, all contributing to her net worth.
In 2000, Lewis became a part of the film Cast Away in a supporting role, and a regular cast member of the drama Strong Medicine until the end of its run in 2006; she also performed the theme song of the show.
She then had a recurring role in the sitcom Girlfriends, and the following year she was cast in the romantic comedy The Brothers, as well as becoming part of several Tyler Perry films. In 2008, she continued her work on stage by being cast in Hairspray; she also guest starred in Boston Legal and That’s So Raven. Lewis then ventured into voice work, most notably in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog which won her an Annie Award.
In 2010, she was cast in the Clint Eastwood film Hereafter, and followed it up with 2011’s Five, a performance which earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination. A few of her latest projects include Baggage Claim and The Wedding Ringer. She was also cast in the comedy series Black-ish which earned her a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series. She is known unofficially as “The Mother of Black Hollywood” (also the name of her memoir) given her frequent matriarchal film and television roles.
For her personal life, it is known that she married retired marine Arnold Byrd in 2012. She also has a daughter from a previous relationship. Jenifer revealed that she has Bipolar disorder, and has been treating it for the past decade.
January 25, 1957
- Despite playing her mother in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), Lewis is just 1 year older than Angela Bassett.
- Despite playing her mother in The Preacher's Wife (1996), Lewis was just 6 years older than Whitney Houston.
- She starred in and co-wrote a one-woman show called The Diva is Dismissed. It earned her two NAACP Theater Awards.
- Was once one of Bette Midler's Harlettes.
- Sang in her church choir at the age of five.