Phylicia Rashad: Through The Decades

Including nights out with her sister Debbie Allen and a historic Tony Awards win.

by Bustle Editors
Actress Phylicia Rashad
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A publicity shot for the then Phylicia Ayers-Allen. In 1972, two years after graduating from Howard University, Rashad married her first husband, William Lancelot Bowles, Jr. The pair had a son before divorcing in 1975.


Rashad pictured in New York with her second husband, Victor Willis, the original lead singer of The Village People. The pair married in 1978 after meeting during a production of The Wiz. Rashad acted in the original 1975 Broadway production, playing a munchkin and a field mouse.

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Rashad pictured with her sister, Debbie Allen, at The Kennedy Center Honors Awards in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 2, 1984. “For us, the arts were as much a part of life as climbing trees,” she later told Town & Country of her childhood in Houston.

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Rashad divorced Willis in 1982 and married professional footballer Ahmad Rashad three years later. The ceremony in Harlem was photographed for JET magazine, with O.J. Simpson serving as best man. The pair went on to have a daughter together before divorcing in 2001.

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Rashad, pictured during a charity event at Madison Square Garden in 1987, continued to work in theatre alongside her television jobs. In 1988, she joined the cast of Into The Woods, taking the role of The Witch from Bernadette Peters in the year after the play's Broadway debut.

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Rashad with her People's Choice Award for Favorite Female TV Performer. In 1985 she jointly won the same award in the new TV program category, sharing the honors with Murder She Wrote's Angela Lansbury.

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Arriving the White House for a state dinner with her sister and her mother, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Vivian Ayers-Allen. When they were young, Ayers-Allen moved the family to Mexico to take them out of the segregated South. "That was one of the best things she ever did for us," Debbie Allen later said.

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Rashad together with her sister in 1995. The pair have remained close their entire lives, and were jointly honored in 2018 by the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. “This tale of two sisters, it’s still in the making," Allen said at the time.


Rashad with her daughter, Condola, who also opted for a career on the stage. "I’ve never made a single phone call for Condola,” Rashad later said of her daughter, a four-time Tony nominee who starred opposite Orlando Bloom in a Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet.

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Angela Bassett and Phylicia Rashad during 59th Annual Tony Awards. The previous year Rashad became the first Black woman to win a Tony in the Leading Role category for her portrayal of Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun.

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Rashad together with singer Aretha Franklin at a charity dinner in New York. As well as her philanthropic work, Rashad also served as a mentor for students at her alma mater, where she helped guide the late Chadwick Boseman.

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Rashad together with her sister and mother at the opening night of Saint Joan on Broadway. The revival of George Bernard Shaw's legendary play saw Rashad's daughter Condola play the lead role of Joan of Arc.


Rashad at the opening of Tyler Perry Studios on Oct. 5 in Atlanta, Georgia. Perry cast Rashad opposite her longtime friend Crystal Fox in A Fall From Grace, which premiered on Netflix in early 2020.

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