Institute Speaker/Panelist Bio

Lorraine Toussaint

Award-Winning Actor

SAG Award winner and NAACP Image Award nominee Lorraine Toussaint most notably shocked audiences as the viciously seductive inmate “Vee” on the second season of the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Toussaint’s epically thrilling performance won her glowing reviews from the likes of TV Guide and Vanity Fair, and a Best Supporting Actress Award from the Critics’ Choice TV Awards. Toussaint also received praise for her performances in the Academy Award-nominated feature film Selma and her starring role in the ABC fantasy/drama series Forever.

Toussaint currently stars opposite Queen Latifah and Chris Noth in the new CBS reboot The Equalizer, which premiered to an audience of over 20 million people following the Super Bowl. She can also be seen on Showtime opposite Bryan Cranston in Peter Morgan’s series Your Honor. This April, Toussaint will star alongside Idris Elba in the Netflix film Concrete Cowboys, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In 2020, Toussaint starred opposite Julianne Moore as Flo Kennedy in Julie Taymor’s film The Glorias. In 2019, she starred in Julia Hart’s cult hit Fast Color and Guillermo del Toro’s Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. She also led the ensemble cast of NBC’s drama The Village, starred in season three of AMC’s Into The Badlands and was heard as the voice of “Shadow Weaver” in Netflix’s animated series She-Ra and The Princess of Power and in the animated series Big City Greens. She recently narrated the PBS series Unladylike and will be heard in the new Netflix animated feature The Magician’s Elephant, scheduled for release in 2022.

Using her art as activism, Toussaint created Mothers & Sons 2020, a project with the goal of highlighting the importance of Black lives and the power of their vote. The project features several sets of mothers and their famous sons, including Blair Underwood and his mother, Marilyn; Edwin and Aldis Hodge and their mother, Yolette; and Jovan Adepo and his mother, Lola, among others. Their commentary is interwoven with historical footage of the abuse hurled at Black Americans, resulting in a truly powerful piece.

No stranger to the silver screen, Toussaint’s first film role was opposite Burt Reynolds in the Crime comedy Breaking In. She has also appeared in Dangerous Minds, the Soloist, and Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere, which garnered her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Female. Additional film credits include Sprinter, Universal Pictures’ Girls Trip, the Seth Rogen comedy The Night Before, and Lionsgate’s Love Beats Rhyme.

Toussaint starred in Fox’s police procedural drama Rosewood and her many additional TV credits are recurring roles on NBC’s Friday Night Lights, TNT’s Saving Grace, Dick Wolf’s Law & Order, ABC’s Ugly Betty, and ABC’s The Fosters. She has also had several guest appearances on hit television shows including CSI: Crime Investigation, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, ABC’s Scandal opposite Kerry Washington and Netflix’s Grace and Frankie.

Toussaint spent the first 12 years of her career acting on stage in New York City before moving to Los Angeles. Her first television appearance was in 1983 in The Face of Rage. Toussaint’s biggest career boost came from her co-starring role opposite Annie Potts in the TV series Any Day Now, which earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Actress in a Drama Series and the Wiley A. Branton Award for the National Bar Association.

Born in Trinidad, Toussaint and her mother moved to Brooklyn, NY when she was 10 years old. An early interest in acting led to her enrollment in New York’s renowned High School of Performing Arts, followed by the prestigious Julliard School’s drama division where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree. On her graduation day, she landed her first paying job as Lady MacBeth with Shakespeare & Company.

IF SHE CAN SEE IT, SHE CAN BE IT