A slight actress with a big voice, Anika Noni Rose studied at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. After learning all she could to prepare herself, she moved to New York to pursue a career on the stage, getting her first break with a role in the Broadway production of Footloose. Rose’s voice, acting, and unmistakable stage presence assured that doors would continue to open for her and she would continue to rack up prominent roles, becoming what could only be described as a truly successful career stage actress, starring in such Broadway productions as Eli’s Comin’, Purlie, Threepenny Opera, and Tartuffe. The actress was honored with an Obie Award as well as a Garland/Drama-Logue Award for her work, but she received by far the most success and acknowledgement for her role in the acclaimed Caroline or Change, for which she won a Tony award in 2004 for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, as well as a Lucille Lortell Award, a Theatre World Award, and a Clarence Derwent Award.
Intent on exploring every possible avenue as a performer, Rose began a career onscreen in the new millennium. She guest-starred in an episode of Third Watch, and scored a role in the American Idol contestant-driven From Justin to Kelly in 2003. Then in 2006, Rose took a role in an ideal hybrid of her talents with the big-screen version of the musical Dreamgirls, a roman à clef based on Motown girl group the Supremes. Rose played Lorrell Robinson, the member of the group who experiences the least drama in the story, but whose solid presence — not to mention voice — is vital to the script. The longtime pro had no problem surrendering the media spotlight to über-divas Beyoncé Knowles and Jennifer Hudson, who played the other two members of the group, but few could help but notice what a force to be reckoned with the Broadway talent was. After the movie and its impending media blitz was over, Rose reprised her role in Caroline or Change in L.A. and San Francisco before she returned with the musical to Broadway.