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Phylicia Rashad

Phylicia Rashad


  • Office of the Dean, College of Fine Arts
  • College of Fine Arts


Phylicia Rashad  

An accomplished actor and stage director, Phylicia Rashad became a household name when she portrayed Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show, a character whose enduring appeal has earned her numerous honors and awards. She has appeared in NBC’s This Is Us, in the popular Fox TV series Empire, and in Tarrell Alvin McCraney's Peabody Award-winning series David Makes Man, on the OWN Network. 

While television was a catalyst in the rise of Ms. Rashad's career, she has also been a force on the stage, appearing both on and Off Broadway, often in projects that showcase her musical talent such as Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls and The Wiz

In 2016, Ms. Rashad was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame and received the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play for her performance as Shelah in Tarell Alvin McCraney's Head of Passes at the Public Theater. Ms. Rashad performed the role of the Duchess of Gloucester in Richard II, the 2020 Shakespeare on the Radio collaboration between The Public Theater and New York public radio station, WNYC.

On Broadway, Ms. Rashad has performed in Dominique Morriseau’s Skeleton Crew ( Tony and Drama Desk Awards), August Osage County, Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role that she reprised on the London stage), August Wilson’s Gem of The Ocean (Tony Award nomination) and in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at Lincoln Center. 

Ms. Rashad received both the Drama Desk and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her riveting performance as Lena Younger in the 2004 Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in The Sun.  

Among Ms. Rashad’s film credits are Creed and Creed II, Just Wright, Tyler Perry's Good Deeds, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf and the 2020 release, A Fall From Grace. Recent film projects include Black Box, Soul, and the Netflix holiday musical, Jingle Jangle

Ms. Rashad made her critically acclaimed directorial debut at the Seattle Repertory Theater with August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean. She has also directed Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Our Lady of 121st Street, The Roommate, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (2014 NAACP Theatre Award for Best Director), Immediate Family, Fences, A Raisin in the Sun, and Four Little Girls.

Respected in the academic world as well, Ms. Rashad was appointed Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University in May of 2021. She has conducted Master Classes at many colleges, universities, and arts organizations including Howard University, New York University, Carnegie Mellon, The Black Arts Institute of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and the prestigious Ten Chimneys Foundation.  Ms. Rashad also holds the distinction of being the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University.

Ms. Rashad’s commitment to excellence in the performing arts has been recognized by the numerous colleges and universities that have presented her with Honorary Doctorates.

Ms. Rashad has also received countless esteemed awards including the BET Honors Theatrical Arts Award, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's Spirit of Shakespeare Award, and the Inaugural Legacy Award of the Ruben Santiago Hudson Fine Arts Learning Center.

She also serves on several important boards including Brainerd Institute Heritage (which is steering the restoration of Kumler Hall at the historic site of Brainerd Institute in Chester, South Carolina) and DADA, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. 

Since 2017, Ms. Rashad has been the Brand Ambassador of the National Trust for Historic Preservation African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. 

Phylicia Rashad graduated Magna Cum Laude from Howard University and is the mother of two adult children.