Emmy Award winning African-American actress Jackee Harry became famous while portraying neighborhood vamp Sandra Clark on the popular NBC sitcom “227” (1985-1989), in which she also nabbed a Golden Globe nomination. With the Emmy in her pocket, she became the first African-American to win an Emmy for the role of a supporting actress in a sitcom. Harry gained further recognition with her role of Tia Mowry’s adopted mother, Lisa Landry, on the sitcom “Sister, Sister” (1994-1999), from which she was handed two Image Awards. Besides her performances on the sitcoms, Harry has also acted in such shows as “Another World” (1983-1986), “The Royal Family” (1991-1992) and more recently, “Everybody Hates Chris” (2006-2007). She has occasionally appeared on the big screen and portrayed characters in the movies “Ladybugs” (1992) and “All You’ve Got” (2006). She will soon be seen in “The Clean Up Woman” and “Ex-Mas Carol.”
Outside the spotlight, Harry was married to Elgin Charles Williams from 1996 until 2003.
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of Flossie Harry, Jacqueline Harry was born on August 14, 1956, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She grew up in New York City and attended the High School of Music and Art. She went on to study American history at the University of Long Island in Brooklyn, New York, and upon receiving her BA, pursued a career as a history teacher at a Brooklyn school. Jackee later stopped teaching and began acting. She was trained at the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side in New York City.
On December 1, 1996, Harry married Elgin Charles Williams. They divorced in 2003. The former couple has one child together.
Jackee Harry left her job as a high school history teacher to start a career in acting. She made her stage debut with a small part in a play by Richard Wesley in 1973 and went professional in 1978 when she won a role in the chorus of an off-Broadway production of “A Broadway Musical,” which was directed by Gower Champion. She next appeared in on and off-Broadway plays like “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road,” “Eubie” and “The Wiz.”
Harry appeared on television in 1983 when she landed the role of Lily Mason on the daytime soap “Another World.” She stayed with the show until 1986. While working on the NBC series, in 1985 Harry won the supporting role of Sandra Clark, the enticing arch rival of Marla Gibbs, in the sitcom “227” (also NBC). Sandra Clark soon became her signature role thanks to an Emmy she won in 1987. She went on to score a nomination in 1988 and a Golden Globe nomination in 1989. She left the show in 1989. In addition to her role on “227,” Harry portrayed Ida Early in the television film “The Incredible Ida Early” (1987), Edna Savage in the NBC film “Crash Course” (1987) and Etta Mae in the ABC miniseries “The Women of Brewster Place” (1989), opposite Oprah Winfrey and Mary Alice. In 1988, she received a recurring role in the comedy series “Amen.”
1990 saw the actress join Tim Allen, Nick Bakay and Beth Broderick in the “ABC TGIF,” playing Lisa, and play Yvonne in the television film “We’ll Take Manhattan.” After the death of Redd Foxx, she began her role of Ruth, the wayward sister of Della Reese’s Victoria, on “The Royal Family,” which she played from 1991 to 1992. Still in 1992, she made a guest appearance in “Designing Women” and appeared as the assistant of Rodney Dangerfield in the film “Ladybugs.”
Harry’s next breakthrough arrived when she was cast as Lisa Landry in the sitcom “Sister, Sister.” As the free-spirited single mother of Tia Mowry, she was handed Images for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1999 and 2000. “Sister, Sister” aired on ABC for two seasons before it was canceled. The WB Network then picked up the show and ran it twice per week until it came to an end in 1999. Meanwhile, Harry could also be seen in guest roles in “Dave’s World” (1994) and “Unhappily Ever After” (1996) and provided the voice of Bo Peep in the animated series “Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child” (1995). On stage, she starred as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” (1994).
Harry returned to the stage in New York City’s revival of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf” (2000). She also worked on television by guest starring in “Twice in a Lifetime” (2000) and serving as a guest panelist on the 2000 revival of “To Tell the Truth.” In 2003, she appeared in an episode of “7th Heaven” and the musical comedy “The Nick at Nite Holiday Special.” The next year, Harry acted in the film “You Got Served” before returning to TV with guest spots in such series as “That’s So Raven” and “One on One” (both 2005). She also appeared in VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club 2,” where she lost 39 pounds in 100 days. Her achievement marked one of the top weight losses in the history of the show.
In 2006, Harry took on the recurring role of Vanessa, an energetic, spirited beautician and friend to Rochelle, in the sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris,” a gig she held until 2007. On the movie front, she appeared with Faizon Love, Efren Ramirez and Ciara in the sport themed film “All You’ve Got” (2006).
Harry will star as Jasmine in JD Lawrence’s upcoming “The Clean Up Woman.” She will also costar in television’s “Ex-Mas Carol.”
Image: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, “Sister, Sister,” 2000
Image: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, “Sister, Sister,” 1999
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, “227,” 1987