Suzzanne Douglas, who appeared in Robert Townsend’s’ 90s WB sitcom Parents hood and most recently appeared in Ava DuVernay’s 2019 Netflix miniseries When they see us, passed away yesterday at the age of 64. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Douglas’ death was announced on Facebook by his cousin Angie Tee.
“Suzzanne Douglas, a beautiful and talented actress made her transition today,” Tee wrote. “She has warmed our hearts on movie screens and television sets around the world… Your talent will be missed by the world, but your soul will live on forever.”
DuVernay remembered Douglas as “a quiet and elegant force.
“A lady,” DuVernay wrote on Twitter early this morning. “A lady’s jewel. A confident and caring actor who breathed life into words and made them sparkle. I am grateful that our paths have crossed in this lifetime. May she walk in peace and love.
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Originally from Chicago and raised by a single mother in the city’s public housing, Douglas, a graduate of Illinois State University and who would later obtain a master’s degree in music from the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, launched her career in 1989 with a lead role in Gregory Hines-Sammy Davis Jr.’s Dance-Themed Drama Tap. Douglas played the character of Davis ‘daughter in what would be Davis’ film’s final performance.
“I remember growing up, there weren’t a lot of black actresses who had lead roles, but there was my cousin with the lead role in ‘Tap’ alongside great dancers like Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis. Jr., ”Tee recalls. For his performance in Tap, Douglas won a NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.
Also that year, Douglas began a prolific career in television that would include appearances in series such as A man called Hawk, The Cosby Show, Against the law, I’ll fly, The Parkers, Bones and Taurus. In 1995 she starred as Jerri Peterson opposite Townsend in his comedy WB Parents hood. The show ran for five seasons and co-starred with Reagan Gomez-Preston as the Peterson’s teenage daughter. (The young actress remembered Douglas yesterday as she retweeted recent Mother’s Day posts.)
Douglas film credits include The inkwell (1994), Last weekend (1998), How Stella found her groove (1998) and Rock school (2003). In addition to her work in TV series, she has appeared in TV movies such as 2003 Sounder remake and, in 2015, Lifetime’s Whitney, in which she plays Whitney Houston’s mother, singer Cissy Houston.
The actress has also appeared frequently on stage, most notably in the lead role of Jenny Diver in Broadway’s 1989. 3 Penny Opera and 1983 The tap child. She was an understudy in the Broadway production in 1987 In the woods.
Information on the survivors was not immediately available, but Douglas reportedly left behind a husband and daughter.
Suzzanne Douglas was a quiet and elegant force as we did WHEN THEY SEE US. A lady. A lady’s jewel. A confident and caring actor who breathed life into words and made them sparkle. I am grateful that our paths have crossed in this lifetime. May she walk in peace and love. pic.twitter.com/1ZhaucGEiK
– Ava DuVernay (@ava) July 7, 2021
TO TEAR APART @suzzannedouglas she was not only a class act but a gentle soul. So talented! I’m grateful that I had the chance to work together on When They See Us. Too much fun bts when @ kaepernick7 came to settle. Take the Queen wing 🕊 https://t.co/1BmV9Ks0sN
– Niecy Nash (@NiecyNash) July 7, 2021