Actor, Producer, Director and Philanthropist
Enthralling, charismatic and passionate are just a few of the words that characterize the type of performances Tamara Tunie is known for delivering. Her background spans film, television and stage. It doesn’t stop there. Her wealth of talent encompasses producing and directing. Such versatility has earned Tunie the respect and admiration of her peers and an increasing global fan base that have come to recognize her as the industry’s quiet, graceful leading lady.
Fans also can look forward to her return in season two of the Sundance TV original series The Red Road. Tunie stars as Marie Van Der Veen, the matriarch and the “moral fiber” of an American Indian tribe. She is enjoying developing the vulnerable Marie, a character who must balance loyalty involving her sons against the well being of the community. The role is a marked departure from the sophisticated and powerful women she is known for portraying.
Other memorable television roles include her portrayal of Medical Examiner Melinda Warner on the NBC drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and “mean Alberta Green” in the Fox hit series 24 Season One, as well as attorney Jessica Griffin on the CBS daytime drama As the World Turns, for which she received two NAACP Image Award nominations and two Soap Opera Digest award nominations.
In film, the Pittsburgh native has worked with some of the most respected directors in Hollywood, including Robert Zemekis, Taylor Hackford, Brian De Palma, Mimi Leder, Harold Becker and Oliver Stone. She also worked with the legendary Al Pacino in her portrayal of Jackie Heath, the possessed wife of a partner in his law firm in the box -office topper The Devil’s Advocate, and as Pacino’s press secretary in City Hall. Among Tunie’s most unforgettable performances was her co-starring role as Margaret Thomason in the Oscar-nominated film Flight, which starred Denzel Washington. What many don’t know is that Tunie narrated Eve’s Bayou, directed by Kasi Lemmons. She later worked again with Lemmons on the film The Caveman’s Valentine, opposite Samuel L. Jackson, for which she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.
Tunie made her feature directorial debut in the indie romantic comedy See You in September, starring Estella Warren and Justin Kirk. On Broadway, she has produced hit productions including Magic/Bird, August Wilson’s Radio Golf (2007 TONY and Drama Desk Award Nominee for Best Play), and Spring Awakening (winner of the 2007 TONY Award for Best Musical and the 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical). Currently, she is producing, and developing for Broadway, Frog Kiss: The Musical – a re-imagined “bed-time story” with a bawdy twist. Frog Kiss earned more citations for excellence than any other musical at the 2010 New York Musical Theater Festival.
Some of her key theater credits include “Calpurnia” in Julius Ceasar opposite Denzel Washington, “Marvelous” in Danai Gurira’s Familiar; the fiercely protective and utterly vulnerable “Kendra” in American Son at Barrington Stage Company; “the Detective” in Scott Burn’s The Library directed by Steven Soderbergh; the lead role of “Madame de Merteuil” in Les Liaisons Dangereuses; “Helen of Troy” in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of Troilus and Cressida in Central Park; “Maggie” in the FIRST all African-American production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; the 20th anniversary, post 9-11 benefit concert of Dreamgirls with Audra McDonald, Heather Headley and Lillius White; and sharing the Broadway stage with the late, great Lena Horne, in the musical Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.
Tunie extends herself beyond acting, producing and directing. She is deeply engaged in the community. She has served as chair emerita of the Board of Directors of Figure Skating in Harlem, a nonprofit organization that teaches education and life skills to young girls through the art and discipline of figure skating. Tunie also is President of the Board of Directors at Harlem Stage/The Gatehouse, a board member of God’s Love We Deliver, and she serves on the Advisory Board of Hearts of Gold.