Lisa Gay Hamilton
Get Lisa Gay Hamilton essential facts below. View Videos or join the Lisa Gay Hamilton discussion. Add Lisa Gay Hamilton to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Lisa Gay Hamilton
LisaGay Hamilton
Lisa Gay Hamilton 2010.jpg
Hamilton with her Peabody Award, 2005
Born (1964-03-25) March 25, 1964 (age 56)
EducationCarnegie Mellon University
New York University (BFA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)
  • Actress
Years active1985-present
(m. 2009)

LisaGay Hamilton (born March 25, 1964) is an American actress who has portrayed roles in films, television, and on stage. She is best known for her role as attorney Rebecca Washington on the ABC legal drama The Practice (1997-2003). She also portrayed Melissa Thoreau on the TNT comedy-drama Men of a Certain Age (2009-2011), Celia Jones on the Netflix series House of Cards (2016), Suzanne Simms on the Hulu series Chance (2016), and Kayla Price on the Hulu series The First (2018).

Hamilton's film credits include roles in 12 Monkeys (1995), Jackie Brown (1997), Beloved (1998), True Crime (1999), The Sum of All Fears (2002), The Soloist (2009), Beastly (2011), Beautiful Boy (2018), and Vice (2018). Her theater credits include Measure for Measure (Isabella), Henry IV Parts I & II (Lady Hotspur), Athol Fugard's, Valley Song and The Ohio State Murders. Hamilton was also an original cast member in the Broadway productions of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson and Gem of the Ocean. In 2005 she won a Peabody Award for creating and directing the 2003 documentary film Beah: A Black Woman Speaks.

Early life

Hamilton was born in Los Angeles, California but spent most of her childhood in Stony Brook, New York on Long Island. Her father, Ira Winslow Hamilton, Jr., hailed from Bessemer, Alabama, and her mother, the former Eleanor Albertine "Tina" Blackwell, was from Meridian, Mississippi. Both parents graduated from historically black colleges--Tina attended Talladega while Ira went to Morehouse--and they both became successful professionals. Ira worked for a while as an engineer and then went into business as a general contractor. Tina eventually earned a master's degree in social work and worked for the Girl Scouts for many years.[1]

Hamilton fell in love with theater at an early age. During the 1970s, she saw several off-Broadway productions by the Negro Ensemble Company, including A Soldier's Story and The First Breeze of Summer.[2] She enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University to study theater, but after a year was accepted into New York University's Tisch Drama School where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater in 1985. She then pursued graduate studies at The Juilliard School where she earned a M.A. in Drama in 1989.[3]


Early on, Hamilton set her sights on classical theater. In one of her first notable roles, she played opposite Kevin Kline in Measure for Measure in the New York Shakespeare Festival. Her performances in Much Ado About Nothing, Tartuffe, Reckless, Family of Mann, and Two Gentlemen of Verona, earned her a reputation as a serious dramatic actor.[] In 1995-96, her portrayal of a young, aspiring South African singer in Athol Fugard's Valley Song garnered an Obie Award, the Clarence Derwent Award, the Ovation nomination for best actress, and a Drama Desk nomination. More recently, Hamilton earned critical acclaim,[4] her second Obie, and a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for her role as Suzanne Alexander in Adrienne Kennedy's, The Ohio State Murders.[5]

Hamilton appeared in over two dozen films, including The Truth About Charlie and Beloved for director Jonathan Demme, Clint Eastwood's True Crime, the independent films; Palookaville, Drunks, Showtime's A House Divided, and as Ophelia in director Campbell Scott's film version of Hamlet. She has worked on several projects with director Rodrigo García, notably his films Ten Tiny Love Stories, Nine Lives, and Mother and Child. Honeydripper directed by John Sayles and The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright.[5]

Hamilton won a Peabody Award in 2005 for creating and directing the 2003 documentary film Beah: A Black Woman Speaks. The film tells the story of pioneering black actress Beah Richards, who had broken ground for African-American actresses. The two women had met on the set of Beloved (1998). Over the next two years, Hamilton made a record of more than 70 hours of their conversations. Hamilton's film explored Richards' political activism as well as her poetry. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Film Festival. After Richards died in 2000, Hamilton collaborated with illustrator R. Gregory Christie to turn one of her poems into a children's book. Keep Climbing Girls was published by Simon and Schuster in 2006.

Hamilton played the role of Melissa in Men of a Certain Age, an hour-long comedy-drama starring Ray Romano, Andre Braugher, and Scott Bakula that ran from 2009 to 2011.

In the fall of 2010, Hamilton took a faculty position in the School of Theater for the California Institute of the Arts.[]

Personal life

In August 2009, Hamilton married historian and writer Robin Kelley. They reside in the View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.



Year Title Role Notes
1985 Krush Groove Aisha
1990 Reversal of Fortune Mary
1993 Naked in New York Marty
1995 Drunks Brenda
1995 Palookaville Betty
1995 12 Monkeys Teddy
1997 Nick and Jane Vickie
1997 Lifebreath Dr. Quinlan
1997 Jackie Brown Sheronda
1998 Halloween H20: 20 Years Later Shirley 'Shirl' Jones (voice)
1998 Beloved Younger Sethe
1999 True Crime Bonnie Beechum
2002 The Sum of All Fears Capt. Lorna Shiro
2002 Ten Tiny Love Stories Three
2002 The Truth About Charlie Lola Jansco
2005 Nine Lives Holly
2007 Honeydripper Delilah
2008 Deception Det. J Russo
2009 The Soloist Jennifer Ayers
2009 Mother and Child Leticia
2011 Take Shelter Kendra
2011 Beastly Zola Davies
2012 The Hypnotist The Hypnotist Short film
2013 Lovelace Marsha
2013 Go for Sisters Bernice
2013 Life of a King Sheila King
2013 Redemption Trail Tess
2016 Indiscretion Karen Wyatt
2018 Beautiful Boy Rose
2018 Vice Condoleezza Rice
2019 Ad Astra Adjutant General Amelia Vogel
2019 The Last Full Measure Celia


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Homicide: Life on the Street Latoya Kennedy "A Dog and a Pony Show"
1994 All My Children Celia Wilson TV series
1994 New York Undercover Suki "To Protect and Serve"
1995 Law & Order Denise Johnson "Purple Heart"
1995 Clarissa Porter Russell TV film
1996 One Life to Live Dr. Laura Reed TV series
1997-2003 The Practice Rebecca Washington Series regular
1998 The Defenders: Choice of Evils Jeanne Baptiste TV film
1998 Ally McBeal Rebecca Washington "The Inmates"
1999 Swing Vote Virginia Mapes TV film
2000 A House Divided Julia TV film
2000 Hamlet Ophelia TV film
2002 Sex and the City Kendall "Critical Condition"
2005 ER Nadine Hopkins "All About Christmas Eve"
2006 Without a Trace Sherise Gibbs "The Calm Before"
2006, 2007, 2013 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Teresa Randall 3 episodes
2007 Numb3rs Sari Kinshasa "Money for Nothing"
2009-2011 Men of a Certain Age Melissa Thoreau Series regular
2012 Southland Melanie "Identity"
2013 Grey's Anatomy Dr. Connie Ryan "Readiness Is All", "Perfect Storm"
2014 Line of Sight Ruby Jensen TV film
2014 Grimm Mrs. Pittman "The Last Fight"
2014 Scandal Ambassador "Where the Sun Don't Shine"
2016 House of Cards Celia Jones Recurring role
2016 The Wilding Emily Bergom "Pilot"
2016 Chance Suzanne Silver Series regular
2018 The First Kayla Price Series regular
2018 Elementary Lt. Colonel Robin Deakins "Give Me the Finger"
2018-2019 Sorry for Your Loss Bobby Greer 2 episodes
2019 Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas Deb TV film


Year Title Role Theatre
1990 The Piano Lesson Grace Walter Kerr Theatre
2004 Gem of the Ocean Black Mary
2019 To Kill a Mockingbird Calpurnia Shubert Theatre

Awards and nominations

Year Award Work Result
1999 Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Ensemble The Practice Nominated
2000 Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Ensemble The Practice Nominated
2000 NAACP Image Award, Outstanding Actress The Practice Nominated
2000 NAACP Image Award, Outstanding Actress True Crime Nominated
2000 Black Reel Awards, Best Supporting Actress True Crime Nominated
2001 Screen Actors Guild Award, Outstanding Ensemble The Practice Nominated
2003 AFI Fest, Documentary Award Beah: A Black Woman Speaks Won
2004 Miami International Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize Beah: A Black Woman Speaks Nominated
2005 Black Reel Awards Beah: A Black Woman Speaks Nominated
2005 Locarno International Film Festival, Best Actress Nine Lives Won
2005 Gotham Awards, Best Ensemble Nine Lives Nominated
2011 Gotham Awards, Best Ensemble Take Shelter Nominated
2012 NAMIC Vision Awards, Best Performance Men of a Certain Age Nominated
2014 Black Reel Awards, Outstanding Actress Go for Sisters Nominated
2014 American Black Film Festival, Hollywood Award Go for Sisters Nominated
2014 Lady Filmmakers Film Festival, Best Actress Redemption Trail Won


  1. ^ LisaGaye Hamilton, 'Growing Up Female is a Journey,' in Becoming Myself: Reflections on Growing Up Female, ed. By Willa Shalit, (New York: Hyperion Books, 2006)
  2. ^ Robin D. G. Kelley, 'Freedom is Living': LisaGaye Hamilton's Radical Imagination,' Transforming Anthropology 14, no. 1 (April 2006), 2-9.
  3. ^ S. Torriano Berry (2015). Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 198.
  4. ^ - Charles Isherwood, 'A College is Stalked By Attitude,' New York Times, November 7, 2007
  5. ^ a b "LisaGay Hamilton : Official Website, Film, Television and Theater Actress and Director, The Practice, Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, Beloved".

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes