Judyann Elder

Actor | Director | Writer


JUDYANN ELDER, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, graduated from Emerson College in Boston as the first recipient of the Carol Burnett Award in the Performing Arts and segued into her professional career in New York as a founding resident member of the esteemed Negro Ensemble Company. She originated roles in the premiere productions of THE SONG OF THE LUSITANIAN BOGEY, DADDY GOODNESS, KONGI’S HARVEST, GOD IS A GUESS WHAT and CEREMONIES IN DARK OLD MEN. She toured with the company to London and Rome. She made her Broadway debut at the Ambassador Theatre portraying Coretta Scott King opposite Billy Dee Williams as Martin Luther King in I HAVE A DREAM. Other off-Broadway:  (American Place Theatre) FIVE ON THE BLACK HAND SIDE. Regional:  FENCES (Arkansas Rep), THE OLD SETTLER & AN AMERICAN DAUGHTER (TheatreWorks), THE HELIOTROPE BOUQUET (La Jolla Playhouse), FUNNY HOUSE OF A NEGRO (Theatre Company of Boston). A veteran TV Guest Star:  GREY’S ANATOMY, CASTLE, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, NCIS, COLD CASE, ER, BLIND JUSTICE, THAT’S SO RAVEN. Recurring:  MARTIN, MURPHY BROWN, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, BECKER, FAMILY TIME. Series Regular: FAMILY MATTERS (final season) as Harriet Winslow. Film:  SEVEN POUNDS, FORGET PARIS, THE PLAYER’S CLUB, DEAD MAN ON CAMPUS, THE PEST, A WOMAN CALLED MOSES, MELINDA. 

Judyann’s first directorial effort garnered her two Los Angeles Dramalogue Awards for both directing and producing THE BOOK OF THE CRAZY AFRICAN at the Skylight Theatre. Her direction of Jeff Stetson’s THE MEETING received critical acclaim both in L.A. and New York. She directed the premiere production of HIGHER GROUND written by John Cothran at The Actor’s Gang in Hollywood and HOW’S YOUR LOVE LIFE at the Robey Theatre. Her direction for LATW’s national radio broadcasts includes Carson McCuller’s A MEMBER OF THE WEDDING, Lonne Elder, III’s CEREMONIES IN DARK OLD MEN, Matthew Lopez’s THE WHIPPING MAN and most recently Vital Voices’ SEVEN. An alumna of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women having directed BEHIND GOD’S BACK starring Beau Bridges, she is also a former Disney Screenwriting Fellow, a NAACP Theatre Trailblazer Award Winner and the recipient of a 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award from Emerson College. Her short narrative film, A PRIVATE ACT, adapted from the play by Thomas Gibbons which she also directed at the Robey Theatre, had it’s World Premier at the St. Louis International Film Festival and can now be viewed on Vimeo and YouTube. Judyann is the mother three children:  writer/producer David Elder, director and visual artist Christian Elder and film producer Loni Elder. She is married to actor John Cothran Jr.

Elder as Holly with Will Smith in  Seven Pounds

Elder as Holly with Will Smith in Seven Pounds

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