Actor Charlayne Woodard is 70

Wizard’s Wardrobe

When my wife unretired, she began working at The Wizard’s Wardrobe, a  “high-quality, one-on-one after-school tutoring program.”

For the past few years, there has been a Readers Theatre fundraising event at the Capital Rep Theater in early October. I was one of the two people working the “green room.” A variety of usually local readers participate. It’s nice to get a “name” guest.

This year’s “name” was Charlayne Woodard, who grew up in Albany.  Several of the patrons knew her when she was growing up.   It’s always interesting when a performer from a small or medium-sized town goes to New York, LA, Nashville, or wherever and succeeds, fulfilling the promise that those who knew them can embrace.

When I saw the movie Hair (1979), I imagine Albany was abuzz when she and others sang White Boys.

Her IMDb bio begins: “Charlayne Woodard is a dazzling force in American theater, captivating audiences with her exceptional talent as both an actress and playwright. With two Obie Awards under her belt and nominations for the highly prestigious Tony and Drama Desk Awards, she has solidified her place as one of the most acclaimed performers of our time. ” Heck, she’s been drawn by Al Hirschfeld! Here’s her IBDb page.

I know her mostly from early episodes of Roseanne (Vonda Green – great last name, that), Days of Our Lives c 1991 (Desiree McCall), and as a recurring character, Sister Peg, on Law and Order: SVU.  Marvel Cinematic Universe fans might recognize her as Nick Fury’s wife Varra / Priscilla Davis, in The Secret Invasion miniseries.

She has many writing credits, including multi-character plays Flight and The Garden. This developed during her time in New York State’s capital.


When she was in town in 2019, she “reflected that most of her success was because of the wonderful family she grew up with in Albany.

“‘We had parents that loved their kids and put them first. Our parents worked every day during the week to provide for us, but on the weekends they spent time with us.’

“The spring of Woodard’s senior year at Albany High School, she and a group of African-American students wanted to put on a show of their own. Under the guidance of teacher John Velie, Anyone ‘Round My Goal Is It was born, a theater piece about ‘the history of Albany and how it related to slavery and us and growing up,’ Woodard said.

“The idea behind the show was to ‘do something different,’ she said, which included creating the book, the music, and the costumes. (‘I made those smocks, terribly made smocks,’ she said.)

“It was to tell a story that wouldn’t be reflected in the popular Broadway shows at the time. The group would end up touring around the area over the summer to perform the show in church basements, youth centers, gymnasiums, and correction facilities. ‘That spring sort of let me know that I wanted to be an actor,’ Woodard said.”

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