Tina Lifford

Tina Lifford

Highest Rated: 78% Grand Canyon (1991)

Lowest Rated: 35% Hostage (2005)

Birthday: May 1, 1956

Birthplace: Evanston, Illinois, USA

Prolific character actress Tina Lifford worked steadily in films and on television for decades, appearing with the likes of Sidney Poitier and Clint Eastwood before earning a showcase role as the matriarch of a large Southern clan in the Oprah Winfrey-produced series "Queen Sugar" (OWN, 2016- ). Raised in Evanston, Illinois, she relocated with her family to California in her early teens; there, Lifford earned a degree from the University of Santa Monica and began working in features and on television in the early 1980s. Between assignments on episodic television series and the occasional role in features like "The Ladies Club" (1986) and Barbra Streisand's "Nuts" (1987), she also provided automated dialogue replacement (ADR) voices for films like "The Fabulous Baker Boys" (1989). After more than a decade of guest roles, Lifford landed her breakout project with "South Central" (Fox, 1994), a short-lived comedy-drama about a single mother (played by Lifford) raising three children in the titular Los Angeles neighborhood. The attention afforded to the show by critics gave her career profile a considerable boost, and Lifford quickly progressed to significant roles in "Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story" (Hallmark Channel, 1996), which cast her as Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersey, and Joseph Sargent's "Mandela and de Klerk" (Showtime, 1997), for which she played Winnie Mandela opposite Sidney Poitier's Nelson Mandela. She then returned briefly to network series on "Crisis Center" (NBC, 1997) before resuming her busy career in features and on television, including turns for Clint Eastwood in "Blood Work" (2002) and recurring roles on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS, 2000-2015), "Parenthood" (NBC, 2010-15) and Shonda  Rhimes' "Scandal" (ABC, 2012-18) as a CIA director. After more than three decades in the entertainment industry, Lifford finally earned a starring role in "Queen Sugar," a drama produced by Oprah Winfrey and filmmaker Ava DuVernay about a trio of siblings who reunite to save their family's sugarcane farm in Louisiana. Lifford played the siblings' mother figure, Violet, who provided an emotional anchor for the family, and for her efforts, earned an Image Award nomination in 2016.

Highest rated movies

Grand Canyon
Worry Dolls
Blood Work
Urban Legends: Bloody Mary




No Score Yet No Score Yet A Holiday in Harlem Mama Belle (Character) - 2021
No Score Yet No Score Yet Cherished Memories: A Gift to Remember 2 Mrs. Henley (Character) - 2019
No Score Yet 50% A Gift to Remember Mrs. Henley (Character) - 2017
60% 9% Worry Dolls Della (Character) - 2016
40% 28% Urban Legends: Bloody Mary Grace Taylor (Character) - 2005
35% 62% Hostage Laura Shoemaker (Character) $34.6M 2005
No Score Yet 40% Mystery Woman: Redemption Bonnie (Character) - 2005
52% 40% Blood Work Jaye Winston (Character) - 2002
No Score Yet 61% A Girl Thing Sharon (Character) - 2001
No Score Yet 85% The Loretta Claiborne Story Rita Claiborne (Character) - 2000
No Score Yet 31% Letters From a Killer Elizabeth (Character) - 1998
No Score Yet 68% Mandela and de Klerk Winnie Mandela (Character) - 1997
No Score Yet 10% Cloned Claire Barnes (Character) - 1997
No Score Yet No Score Yet Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Character) - 1996
No Score Yet 86% America's Dream Sarah (Character) - 1996
No Score Yet 41% A Streetcar Named Desire The Neighbor (Character) - 1995
No Score Yet No Score Yet Born Too Soon Latanya (Character) - 1993
78% 70% Grand Canyon Deborah (Character) $32.3M 1991
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Rape of Dr. Willis Officer Rollins (Character) - 1991
No Score Yet 56% Paris Trout Mary Sayers (Character) - 1991


98% 92% Queen Sugar Aunt Violet (Character) 2016-2019 2021
64% 48% Filthy Rich Monique (Guest Star) 2020
No Score Yet No Score Yet Home & Family Guest 2018-2019
25% 56% Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders Unknown (Guest Star) 2016
28% 50% Minority Report Unknown (Guest Star) 2015
93% 73% Scandal CIA Director Lowry (Guest Star) 2015
88% 95% Parenthood Unknown (Guest Star) 2010-2013
72% 49% Drop Dead Diva Judge Nora Lafford (Guest Star) 2012
No Score Yet 86% Criminal Minds Unknown (Guest Star) 2010
75% 82% Nip/Tuck Warden DeMarco (Guest Star) 2009
No Score Yet 84% Cold Case Unknown (Guest Star) 2008
No Score Yet 50% In Plain Sight Denise McBride / Denise Morris (Guest Star) 2008
52% 65% Heroes Unknown (Guest Star) 2006
No Score Yet 84% ER Evelyn Pratt (Guest Star) 2005
No Score Yet 81% CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Unknown (Guest Star) 2004-2005
No Score Yet 83% NCIS Dr. Pamela Fox (Guest Star) 2005
33% No Score Yet Threat Matrix Unknown (Guest Star) 2004
95% No Score Yet Karen Sisco Unknown (Guest Star) 2003
No Score Yet No Score Yet Family Law Unknown (Guest Star) 1999-2001
No Score Yet No Score Yet Judging Amy Unknown (Guest Star) 2001
No Score Yet 35% JAG Unknown (Guest Star) 1998 2000
83% No Score Yet That's Life Unknown (Guest Star) 2000
83% 83% NYPD Blue Lorraine Wiggins (Guest Star) 2000
No Score Yet No Score Yet Martial Law Unknown (Character) 1998
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Practice Unknown (Guest Star) 1998
67% No Score Yet American Gothic Unknown (Guest Star) 1995-1996 1998
No Score Yet No Score Yet Touched by an Angel Unknown (Guest Star) 1998
57% No Score Yet Gun Unknown (Character) 1997
20% No Score Yet Crisis Center Tess Robinson (Character) 1997
No Score Yet No Score Yet Courthouse Unknown (Guest Star) 1995
91% 88% Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Lee (Guest Star) 1995
No Score Yet No Score Yet South Central Joan Mosely (Character) 1994
No Score Yet 91% The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Unknown (Guest Star) 1991
No Score Yet No Score Yet Hunter Frankie Mason (Guest Star) 1990
No Score Yet No Score Yet Tour of Duty Nurse Pritchard (Guest Star) 1989
No Score Yet 0% Jake and the Fatman Unknown (Guest Star) 1987