Jenifer Lewis was born and raised in Kinloch, Missouri. She holds a bachelor's degree in theater arts from Webster University in St. Louis. Jenifer has over 60 films and 200 TV appearances to her credit. Her uniquely recognizable voice is adored by fans worldwide in such animated roles as "Flo" in CARS and CARS 2 and as "Mama Odie" in "The Princess and the Frog." Jenifer earned the title "Black Mother of Hollywood" thanks to memorable performances as Tina Turner's mother in "Whats Love Got to Do With It?" and alongside Denzel Washington in "The Preacher's Wife." In 2010 she portrayed the distraught mother, "Candace," opposite Matt Damon in Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter."
Jenifer is a series regular on NBC's "The Playboy Club." In October 2011 she plays a featured role on Lifetime's prestigious TV movie "Five," under the helm of first-time director Alicia Keys. As an activist, Jenifer participates in mental health causes and in 2007, Jenifer chose "The Oprah Winfrey Show" as a platform to reveal that she has bipolar disorder.
Jenifer's versatility is at the heart of her long and diverse career. Her TV roles have ranged from regular appearances as "Aunt Helen" on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" to guest star roles on "Friends," "Boston Legal" and "Girlfriends." For six seasons, Jenifer portrayed "Lana Hawkins" on Lifetime's number one hit series "Strong Medicine." Also on Lifetime, Jenifer achieved "Diva" status as star of the "mock-umentary" "Jackie's Back!"
For director Tyler Perry, Jenifer created unforgettable characters in "Madea's Family Reunion" and "Meet the Browns." She portrayed a small yet notable role as Tom Hanks' boss in "Castaway."
Jenifer is highly respected in the theatre world with five Broadway shows to her credit including "Hairspray," as "Motormouth Maybelle." In 2006, Jenifer co-starred opposite Meryl Streep in the Shakespeare In The Park presentation of "Mother Courage and Her Children," in New York City. Jenifer has performed her acclaimed one-woman show, "The Diva is Dismissed" worldwide.