An accomplished actor and stage director, Phylicia Rashad became a household name when she starred in “The Cosby Show” as Claire Huxtable, a character whose enduring appeal has earned her numerous honors and awards. She has appeared in NBC’s “This Is Us,” in the popular FOX TV series “Empire,” in Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s Peabody Award-winning series “David Makes Man,” on the OWN Network, “Diarra From Detroit,” “The Good Fight,” “Little America” and “The Crossover.”
While television was a catalyst in the rise of Rashad’s career, she has also been a force on the stage, appearing both on and Off Broadway, often in projects that showcase her musical talent such as Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls and The Wiz.
In 2016, Rashad was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame and received the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play for her performance as Shelah in Tarell Alvin McCraney's Head of Passes at the Public Theater. She performed the role of the Duchess of Gloucester in Richard II, which was the 2020 Shakespeare on the Radio collaboration between The Public Theater and New York public radio station, WNYC.
On Broadway, Rashad has performed in Dominique Morriseau’s Skeleton Crew (Tony and Drama Desk Awards), August Osage County, Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role that she reprised on the London stage), August Wilson’s Gem of The Ocean (Tony Award nomination) and in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at Lincoln Center. Rashad received both the Drama Desk and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her riveting performance as Lena Younger in the 2004 Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.
Among her film credits are Creed, Creed II, Creed III, Just Wright, Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, For Colored Girls and the 2020 release, A Fall From Grace. Recent film projects include Black Box, Soul, and the Netflix holiday musical, Jingle Jangle.
Rashad made her critically acclaimed directorial debut at the Seattle Repertory Theater with August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean. She has also directed Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Our Lady of 121st Street, The Roommate, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (2014 NAACP Theatre Award for Best Director), Immediate Family, Fences, A Raisin in the Sun and Four Little Girls.
Respected in the academic world, Rashad has served as Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University since May 2021. In February 2023, she was appointed Howard University’s inaugural holder of the Toni Morrison Endowed Chair in Arts and Humanities.
Rashad has conducted master classes at many colleges, universities and arts organizations including Howard University, New York University, Carnegie Mellon, The Black Arts Institute of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting and the prestigious Ten Chimneys Foundation. She also holds the distinction of being the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University. Rashad’s commitment to excellence in the performing arts has been recognized by the numerous colleges and universities that have presented her with honorary doctorates.