• Born in Queens, New York City, USA on 8 July 1960
• American actress, dancer and jazz singer
• Best known for her portrayal of Big Dee Dee in the comedy series "Half and Half"
• Appeared in many plays performed at her school and went on to appear in theatre plays, movies and TV series
• Married to Tony Rader for nearly three decades
• Hobbies include travelling, watching movies, yoga, following a strict diet and meditating
Who is Valarie Pettiford?
Valarie Pettiford was born in Queens, New York City USA, on 8 July 1960 – her zodiac sign is Cancer and she holds American nationality. She is an actress, dancer and a jazz singer, who is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Big Dee Dee in the comedy series “Half & Half”, which aired from 2002 to 2006 and starred Essence Atkins, Rachel True and Chico Benymon – it follows two half-sisters who are entirely different, living in the same apartment building. The series won one award and was nominated for 18 others.
Early life and education
Valarie was raised in Queens an only child, by her father Ralph who was an insurance agent, and her mother Blanch Pettiford who worked at the same insurance agency.
Valarie became interested in acting at a very early age, as she appeared in many plays performed at her school. After she completed her elementary education, she enrolled at the High School of Performing Arts – during her first year there, she launched her acting career after being cast to appear in the musical “The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical “Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.
Valarie matriculated in 1978, and then decided not to pursue a college degree, but to focus on her acting career.
Roles in theatre plays
Valarie appeared in several theatre plays even before matriculation, such as the musical “Sweet Charity”, the comedy “She Stoops to Conquer” by Oliver Goldsmith, and the Jean Genet’s “The Balcony” – she also appeared in “Summer and Smoke”.
She was a swing performer in “A Broadway Musical” in 1978, and a few of her following roles were in the musical “Sophisticated Ladies” in late 1978, another musical “Dancin’” in 1979, and in Fay Kanin’s “Grind”. Valarie served as the choreographer for the play “Ladies and Gentlemen, Jerome Kern” in 1985, and was then invited to play one of the lead characters in the musical “Big Deal” in 1986. The following year saw her play Anita in the popular play “West Side Story” – inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” – and in 1995 she starred as Julie in the musical “Show Boat”.
Three of Valarie’s later roles in theatre plays were been in the musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” in 2002, another musical “The Wild Party” in 2005, and William F. Brown and Charlie Smalls’ “The Wiz” in 2006.
Roles in movies
In 1984, Valarie played a dancer in the crime drama “The Cotton Club”, which starred Richard Gere, Gregory Hines and Diane Lane, and is about jazz singers, dancers and others who are meeting at The Cotton Club in the late 1920s – the film was a hit as it won one award, and was nominated for eight others including two Oscars.
She went on to portray The Newscaster in the 45-minute crime family mystery film “Isaac Asimov’s Robots”, and was then invited to play the supporting character Denise in the adventure action movie “Rescue Me” (also known as “Street Hunter”) in 1990. A few of her following notable performances were in the drama “Confidences” in 2001, the sports comedy “Like Mike” in 2002, and the romantic drama “Paris” in 2003.
The year 2007 saw her play Aunt Jackie in the dance drama “Stomp the Yard”, and in 2009, Valarie appeared in the critically acclaimed film “The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness”, which was based on the eponymous novel written by Jerome Groopman.
In 2010, Valarie was Terry’s Mom in the comedy “Why Did I Get Married Too?”, and two of her following roles were in the romantic comedy “Jumping the Broom” and the compilation of short films “Stars in Shorts” both in 2012. Three of her most recent notable performances have been in the 2015 drama “Will to Love”, the romantic mystery drama “The Preacher’s Son” in 2017, and the drama “Love Is Love Is Love” in early 2020.
Roles in TV series
Valarie made her debut TV series appearance in 1988, when invited to play Jackie in the episode “No Place Like Home” of the crime drama “The Equalizer”, then in the same year she played the supporting character Detective Courtney Walker in the soap opera “Another World”, which starred Victoria Wyndham, Constance Ford and Hugh Marlowe – the series was very popular as it won 43 awards and was nominated for 176 others, including a Primetime Emmy.
In 1990, Valarie began portraying another supporting character, Shelia Price in the soap opera “One Life to Live”, and she was shooting for the series until 1994, The following years saw her guest appear in single episodes of many series, such as the action crime drama “The Sentinel” in 1996, the 1997 crime drama “Silk Stalkings”, and the action crime series “Walker, Texas Ranger” in the following year.
After appearing in only one episode of over 10 other series, Valarie was invited to play the supporting character Gayle Noland in the crime drama “The District”, which starred Craig T. Nelson, Roger Aaron Brown and Sean Patrick Thomas, and is about Newark PD Chief Jack Mannion, and his attempt to rid Washington DC of crime – the series won two awards and was nominated for 14 others, including a Primetime Emmy.
Valarie’s next notable performance was in 2008, when she was cast to play Sandra Lucas in the comedy series “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” while the following five years saw her appear in a single episode of series such as the superhero drama “The Cape” in 2011, the procedural drama “The Finder” in 2012 and the fantasy horror drama “True Blood” in 2013.
In 2015, Valarie played the supporting character Charlene Cooper in the crime thriller series “The Blacklist”, which starred James Spader, Megan Boone and Diego Klattenhoff, and is about FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen, and Raymond Reddington who is a mysterious criminal who has just turned himself in – the series won two awards and was nominated for 29 others, including two Golden Globes.
Valarie went on to play supporting characters in both the drama “Being Mary Jane” and the military drama “Valor” in 2017, while three of her most recent roles in TV series have been in the British series “A Discovery of Witches” playing the lead character Emily Mather since 2018, the crime drama “The Family Business” portraying the main character Charlotte Duncan since 2018 also, and the comedy “#blackAF” in which she guest starred in a single episode as The Grandma in 2020.
Valarie is also a jazz musician, having released her album in 2005 entitled “Hear My Soul”.
Husband Tony Rader
Valarie has been keeping the details of her love life hidden from the media’s attention, but it’s known that she has been married to Tony Rader for nearly three decades now – Tony is her manager, is also an actor, and a former baseball player for the Philadelphia Phillies. They were introduced by a mutual friend at a party in the late ‘80s, and after three years of dating, Tony asked Valarie to marry him in 1991. The ceremony was held in private in the summer of 1992, and the two have since been leading a seemingly happy life together – they have agreed not to have children, but to focus on their careers.
Valarie hasn’t talked about any other men she might have dated before meeting Tony, so as of October 2020, she is married and doesn’t have children.
Hobbies and other interests
Valarie’s main hobby is travelling, and her acting career has taken her all around the US, visiting nearly every state, while she has also been to Europe on numerous occasions and for both work and pleasure – two of her dream travel destinations are Miami in Florida and Rome in Italy.
She likes to watch movies in her spare time, and as Chadwick Boseman was one of her favorite actors, she was devastated to find out that he had passed away from cancer.
A few other actors and actresses she likes to watch are Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman, and some of her favorite movies are “The Sleepers”, the franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “V for Vendetta”.
Valarie grew up being physically active as it was required of her career – in her 20s and 30s, she had several training sessions at the gym each week, practiced yoga and followed a strict diet. Valarie no longer works out at the gym, but still does yoga, follows a strict diet and meditates.
Age and height
Valarie’s age is 60. She has long curly brown hair and brown eyes, her height is 5ft 8ins (1.74m) and she weighs around 135lbs (61kgs).
As of October 2020, her net worth has been estimated at over $3 million.