Vivacious, witty, and completely unforgettable, Jackée Harry was born to entertain.
Born Jacqueline Yvonne Harry on August 14, 1956 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and reared from the age of nine in Harlem, New York, by her mother, Flossie, Jackée landed the lead role of the King in her school’s production of The King and I at the tender age of fourteen. Upon graduation from New York City’s High School of Music and Art with a distinction in Opera, Jackée attended the University of Long Island, where she earned her B.A. in education.
Jackée began her career as a history teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School but left after two years to pursue a career in acting. She studied acting at the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side and made her professional acting debut in 1973 in Richard Wesley’s Goin’ Through Changes; not long afterward, she made her Broadway debut in A Broadway Musical as Melinda Bernard.
In 1983, Jackée made her television debut opposite Morgan Freeman in the daytime soap opera Another World. A year later, she landed her iconic role of Sandra Clark on the NBC sitcom 227. As the breakout star of the series, Jackée became the first African American to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and was also nominated for a Golden Globe. Her performance on 227 inspired NBC producers to create a television pilot for her entitled Jackée. After departing from 227 in 1989, she starred opposite Oprah Winfrey in the critically acclaimed adaptation of Gloria Naylor’s novel The Women of Brewster Place.
In 1991, Jackée joined an all-star cast led by Della Reese when she played the role of Ruth ‘CoCo’ Royal in The Royal Family. From 1994-1999, she starred as the adoptive mother of Tia and Tamara Mowry’s characters on the ABC/WB sitcom Sister, Sister, winning the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for two consecutive years in 1999 and 2000. Jackée also made guest appearances on Amen, Designing Women, Dave’s World, Hollywood Squares, 7th Heaven, and That’s So Raven, before joining the cast of Everybody Hates Chris in 2006.
Hollywood success did not lead Jackée to turn her back on theater; in 1994 she returned to the stage as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and in 2003 she played the role of the Madam in The Boys From Syracuse on Broadway. More recently, Jackée performed before sold-out audiences across the nation in the stage play The Cleanup Woman, which is called “one of the highest grossing gospel stage plays of all time” and fronted an Off-Broadway limited-run of NEWSical: The Musical.
Beyond acting, Jackée is a vocal champion of healthy living, education, and philanthropy. She is proud to be a spokesperson for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, and a Global Ambassador to the Women’s International Center. The National Congress of Black Women presented her with the “Woman of Substance” Award in 2010.
Jackée recently starred on the CW’s The First Family and held recurring roles on BET’s Let’s Stay Together, Freeform's Baby Daddy, and Disney's Girl Meets World. She is set to join the reboot of Tyler Perry's House of Payne in January 2018. The new series, simply titled The Paynes, will air on OWN.
Larger than life and twice as funny, Jackée continues to entertain and inspire in a way that permanently cements her place in the American cultural landscape.