LaChanze at the 2022 Tony Awards
Rhonda LaChanze Sapp

(1961-12-16) December 16, 1961 (age 62)
Other namesLaChanze Sapp, La Chanze Sapp-Gooding, R. Lachanze Sapp
Occupation(s)Actress, singer, dancer
Years active1986–present
Calvin J. Gooding
(m. 1998; died 2001)
(m. 2005; div. 2014)
Children2, including Celia Rose Gooding Edit this at Wikidata

LaChanze Sapp-Gooding, known professionally as LaChanze (/ləˈʃɑːnz/; born December 16, 1961), is an American actress, singer, and dancer. She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical in 2006 for her role as Celie Harris Johnson in The Color Purple.[1][2] In 2023, LaChanze received two more Tony Awards, this time as a producer. She served as co-producer on Kimberly Akimbo, which won the Tony for Best New Musical and Topdog/Underdog, which won for Best Revival of a Play.[3]

Early life and education

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Born in St. Augustine, Florida, to Walter and Rosalie Sapp, her stage name "LaChanze" (Creole: the charmed one) is taken from her grandmother. After moving to Connecticut, her childhood love of singing and dancing caused her mother to enroll her in the Bowen Peters Cultural Arts Center in New Haven. There she discovered her love for performing. At Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, LaChanze made her debut as Lola in the school production of Damn Yankees.

After high school, LaChanze studied drama at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, before transferring to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she studied Theater and Dance.


Her first summer job was as a tap dancer in the ensemble of Uptown... It's Hot! at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The show opened on Broadway in January 1986, where LaChanze began her professional career in the theater.[4]

LaChanze played the role of Ti Moune in the Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty musical Once on This Island in 1990 and received nominations for the Tony Award as Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical and Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.[5][6] In December 1998, she joined the cast of the Ahrens and Flaherty and Terrence McNally Broadway musical Ragtime, replacing Audra McDonald in the role of "Sarah."[7] She played the role of Viveca in the Playwrights Horizons Off-Broadway production of the musical The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, which opened in June 2000.[8] She received a Drama Desk nomination, Actress (Musical), for her performance.[9] LaChanze participated in an Actors Fund of America benefit concert of Funny Girl, with many performers portraying the character of Fanny Brice, in September 2002.[10]

LaChanze performing in 2006

In 2005 she played a runaway slave in the Ahrens and Flaherty musical Dessa Rose. The musical opened Off-Broadway at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center in March 2005.[11] LaChanze received an Obie Award for Performance for Dessa Rose.[12][13] LaChanze appeared as Celie Harris Johnson in the Broadway musical The Color Purple, from its opening in 2005 to November 2006.[14][15] She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for this performance.

In September 2008 she participated in the Boston Pops concert, Handel's Messiah Rocks at Emerson College. The performance was filmed by Public Broadcasting Service.[16] She was in the Off-Broadway production of Inked Baby, written by Christina Anderson, which opened in March 2009 at Playwrights Horizons Peter Jay Sharp Theater.[17] In June and July 2009, she played the role of Glinda in the City Center Encores! staged Summer Stars concert production of The Wiz.[18]

She published her first picture book, Little Diva, in 2010. She was in the Broadway production of If/Then in 2014, starring as Kate. In 2018, she was in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway, playing Diva Donna/Mary Gaines. In 2019 she appeared in A Christmas Carol on Broadway, starring as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

In January 2022, Lachanze took a star turn on Broadway in Trouble in Mind, written by Alice Childress in 1955. Lachanze earned a Tony nomination for her performance as Wiletta Mayer.[19]

In 2022, Lachanze began her career as a Broadway producer. She produced Topdog/Underdog with David Stone, Rashad V. Chambers, Marc Platt, Debra Martin Chase, and the Shubert Organization. [20] She is also producing Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway with David Stone, Aaron Glick, Patrick Catullo and James L. Nederlander.[21] She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play as a producer for Kimberly Akimbo and Topdog/Underdog on May 2, 2023. She was announced as a winner for both shows during the Tony Awards telecast on June 11, 2023.[22]

Personal life

While LaChanze was eight months pregnant with her second child, Zaya, her husband, securities trader Calvin Gooding, was killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was working at Cantor Fitzgerald in Tower One of the World Trade Center.[23]

On September 6, 2002, she sang the National Anthem at a joint meeting of Congress in Federal Hall National Memorial, the first meeting of Congress in New York since 1790.[24][25] She sang "Amazing Grace" at the dedication of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on May 15, 2014, dedicating her performance to her late husband.

LaChanze remarried in 2005 to Derek Fordjour, and divorced him in 2014. The divorce was finalized on March 27, 2014, in Westchester County.[26]

In 2019, LaChanze and the elder of her two daughters, Celia Rose Gooding, simultaneously appeared on Broadway, with LaChanze starring in A Christmas Carol and Gooding starring in Jagged Little Pill.[27] The two repeated the rare event of mother and daughter starring in Broadway shows, following Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher in 1983.[28][29][30]

Acting credits

Sources: The New York Times;[31] TCM[32]


Year Title Role Notes
1992 My New Gun Kelly Jane
Leap of Faith Georgette
1993 For Love or Money Nora
1997 David Searching God Truth
Hercules Terpsichore Voice role
Disney Sing-Along-Songs: Zero to Hero Voice role; direct-to-video
2002 Heartbreak Hospital Lisa
2006 Black Sorority Project: The Exodus Executive producer
2009 Handel's Messiah Rocks Singer
Breaking Upwards Maggie
2011 The Help Rachel
2013 Side Effects Wards Islands Desk Nurse
2018 Diane Jennifer
Melinda Melinda LaCroix
Knights in Newark The Witch/Mrs. Conroy Short film
2023 Birth/Rebirth Colleen
Genie Completed


Year Title Role Notes
1988–89 The Cosby Show Sylvia 2 episodes
1994 The Cosby Mysteries Dr. Weeks 2 episodes
1996 New York Undercover Mariah Barton Episode: "Tough Love"
1997 Total Security Wanda Robitaille 1 episode
1998 Hercules: The Animated Series Terpsichore Recurring role, 12 episodes; voice role
1999 Hercules: Zero to Hero Television film; voice role
Sex and the City Hostess Episode: "Ex and the City"
2000 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Ms. Pivik Episode: "Baby Killer"
2003 Lucy Harriett Television film
2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Amber Episode: "Undercover"
2011 One Life to Live Yvonne Moreau 3 episodes
2015 The Battery's Down TiMoune Episode: "Reunion"
2016 The Night Of Dwight's Mom Episode: "Subtle Beast"
Person of Interest Mona 2 episodes
2018 Pinkalicious & Peterrific Blue Fairy Episode: "Fairy House/Pinkabotta & Peterbotta"; voice role
2019 The Village Wendy Parker Episode: "Yes or No"
2019–20 The Good Fight Julius' wife 2 episodes
2021 The Blacklist Anne Foster Recurring role; 4 episodes
The Underground Railroad Ms. Reva Episode: "Chapter 8: Indiana Autumn"
2022 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Rosa Freeman (Hudson University President) Episode: "Promising Young Gentlemen"
2023 Gossip Girl Mimi Episode: "I Am Gossip"
2024 Dee and Friends in Oz Grandma & Miss Emerald Recurring role; voice role


Year Title Role Venue Notes
1985 Uptown... It's Hot! Tap Dancer Tropicana Hotel
1986 Broadway Broadway debut
1987 Dreamgirls Ensemble Broadway (u/s Deena Jones, Michelle Morris)
1990 Once On This Island Ti Moune Off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons
1990–91 Broadway
1995 Out of This World Chloe New York City Center Encores!
Company Marta Broadway
1996 Comfortable Shoes Performer Paper Mill Playhouse
1997 Ragtime Sarah Los Angeles
1999 The Vagina Monologues Performer Off-Broadway
1999–2000 Ragtime Sarah Broadway Replacement
2000 The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin Viveca Off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons
2002 Funny Girl Fanny Brice New York New York Actor's Benefit Fund Concert
Once On This Island Ti Moune Broadway reunion concert
2004 The Color Purple Celie Alliance Theatre Out-of-town tryout
Baby Pam Paper Mill Playhouse
2005 Dessa Rose Dessa Rose Off-Broadway
2005–06 The Color Purple Celie Broadway
Spunk Performer Regional
2009 Inked Baby Performer Off-Broadway
The Wiz Glinda New York City Center Encores!
From the Mississippi Delta Performer Regional
2012 Handel's Messiah Rocks: A Joyful Noise Performer National tour
2013 If/Then Kate National Theatre (Washington, D.C.) Out-of-town tryout
2014–15 Broadway
2015–16 National tour
2016 Cabin in the Sky Wanda New York City Center Encores!
2017 Summer: The Donna Summer Musical Diva Donna/Mary Gaines La Jolla Playhouse Out-of-town tryout
2018 Broadway
2019 The Secret Life of Bees[33] August Atlantic Theater Company
A Christmas Carol Ghost of Christmas Present Lyceum Theatre (Broadway)
2021 Trouble in Mind Wiletta Broadway

Video games

Year Title Role
1997 Hercules Terpsichore




Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1991 Theatre World Award Outstanding Broadway debut Once on This Island Won
Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
2001 The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin Nominated
2005 Dessa Rose Nominated
Obie Award Performance Won
2006 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical The Color Purple Won Audience Award Favorite Actress in a Musical Won
Favorite Diva Performance Won
Favorite Onstage Pair (w/ Elisabeth Withers) Nominated
2010 Chicago / Midwest Emmy Award[34] Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence on Camera: Programming – Performer Handel's Messiah Rocks Won
2014 Audience Award Favorite Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical If/Then Won
2018 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Summer: The Donna Summer Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
2019 AUDELCO Awards[35] Lead Actress in a Musical The Secret Life of Bees Won
2020 Lucille Lortel Awards[36] Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Award[37] Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated
Antonyo Awards[38] Best Actor in A Leading Role in a Musical Off-Broadway Won
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play on Broadway A Christmas Carol Nominated
2022 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play Trouble in Mind Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Awards[39] Outstanding Actress in a Play Won
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Award Nominated
2023 Tony Award Best Musical Kimberly Akimbo Won
Best Revival of a Play Topdog/Underdog Won


  1. ^ Gioia, Michael (August 4, 2013). "Anthony Rapp Will Join Tony Winners Idina Menzel and LaChanze in Broadway-Bound Musical If/Then". Playbill. Archived from the original on August 4, 2013.
  2. ^ "LaChanze". Archived from the original on April 29, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  3. ^ "'I Added a New Hyphen!' LaChanze Is Now a Two-Time Tony-Winning Producer". Playbill. June 12, 2023. Retrieved June 22, 2023.
  4. ^ "Uptown...It's Hot". Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  5. ^ "LaChanze Career". Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  6. ^ "Listing, see Awards". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  7. ^ Lefkowitz, David; Viagas, Robert; Ehren, Christine (December 18, 1998). "Bway's Ragtime To Get All-New Leads, Incl. Rubinstein, Alton White & LaChanze". Archived from the original on April 3, 2012.
  8. ^ "Listing". Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth; Simonson, Robert (May 20, 2001). "Drama Desk Winners Include Producers, Proof and Mnemonic". Archived from the original on October 20, 2012.
  10. ^ Simonson, Robert (September 17, 2002). "More Fannys: LaChanze, Kayden, Murney Join Funny Girl Concert". Archived from the original on October 29, 2013.
  11. ^ Simonson, Robert. "LaChanze and Rachel York Begin Previews in 'Dessa Rose' at Mitzi Newhouse, Feb. 17" Archived December 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine February 17, 2005
  12. ^ "Search 2005" Archived May 30, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, accessed August 29, 2013
  13. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Shanley, Hughes, Culkin, Marvel, O'Connell Among 2005 Obie Winners" Archived December 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, May 16, 2005
  14. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "LaChanze Confirmed as Leading Lady of 'Color Purple' Musical; Broadway Cast Announced", September 7, 2005
  15. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Tony Winner LaChanze to End Her Run in Broadway's 'The Color Purple' Nov. 5", October 18, 2006
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew. PBS to Film LaChanze, Spencer and Boston Pops in Handel's Messiah Rocks" Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, September 5, 2008
  17. ^ Jones, Kenneth. " 'Inked Baby', Starring LaChanze, Opens March 23 in NYC" Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, March 23, 2009
  18. ^ Gans, Andrew and Hetrick, Adam."Jones, LaChanze, Arnold, Lewis, Henry and More Will Join Ashanti in The Wiz", May 7, 2009
  19. ^ "'Trouble in Mind' Broadway Review: LaChanze Leads Alice Childress Play to Overdue Triumph". November 19, 2021.
  20. ^ "'Topdog/Underdog' Returning to Broadway with Corey Hawkins & Yahya Abdul-Mateen II". June 14, 2022.
  21. ^ "Acclaimed off Broadway Musical 'Kimberly Akimbo' Plans Move to Broadway with Original Cast". February 25, 2022.
  22. ^ "Tony Awards Winners: 'Kimberly Akimbo' Takes Best Musical; 'Leopoldstadt' Named Best Play – Complete List". June 12, 2023.
  23. ^ Gordon, Meryl. "The Lives Left Behind" New York Magazine, accessed March 19, 2016
  24. ^ "Joint Meeting of Congress |". Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  25. ^ Lehrer, Sari. "Weddings" New York Magazine, Summer 2006, retrieved August 29, 2013
  26. ^ Gioia, Michael. "My If/Then Moment": LaChanze Recounts the Divine Intervention Leading Her to the 9/11 Memorial" June 18, 2014
  27. ^ Tube, Stage. "VIDEO: LaChanze & Celia Rose Gooding Are the First Mother/Daughter Duo On Broadway". Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  28. ^ Haun, Harry (April 1, 2020). "From the Archives: When Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher Simultaneously Starred on Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved August 23, 2023. Now that Raquel Welch has left Woman of the Year, the part has passed along—with Einstein-like logic—to the ever-peppy Debbie Reynolds, who arrived in that title role last month almost by divine right. … [Simultaneously] her daughter, Carrie Fisher, is appearing on the other side of Broadway, at the Music Box in Agnes of God, which, like her mom's, is a Tony-winning role. … 'The two of us on Broadway at the same time—it's a whole new thought for me,' Debbie admits.
  29. ^ "Agnes of God – Broadway Play – Original". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved August 23, 2023. Replacements: Carrie Fisher; Agnes; Jan 03, 1983 - Apr 10, 1983
  30. ^ "Woman of the Year – Broadway Musical – Original". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved August 23, 2023. Replacements: Debbie Reynolds; Tess Harding; Feb 13, 1983 - Mar 13, 1983
  31. ^ Filmography The New York Times, accessed August 29, 2013
  32. ^ Filmography, accessed August 29, 2013
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