A classically trained actress-singer with soulful eyes and a lilting voice, Loretta Devine was a professional actor for nearly 20 years before rising to prominence through her co-starring turn in the hit film "Waiting to Exhale" (1995). After years of theater study and a period working as a stage director at Houston's Black Arts Center, Devine began acting professionally on and off-Broadway in productions such as "Hair" and "Dreamgirls" in the late 1970s. Early TV and film appearances included a year-long stint on the sitcom "A Different World" (NBC, 1987-1993) and small role in the River Phoenix thriller "Little Nikita" (1988). Working steadily in minor roles in both mediums, Devine broke out with her warm and relatable performance as a single mother in "Waiting to Exhale." She went on to appear in a string of prominent supporting turns in projects like "The Preacher's Wife" (1996), "Down in the Delta" (1998), and "What Women Want" (2000). Regular or recurring roles on television included such shows as "Boston Public" (Fox, 2000-04) and "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ). Other work in film boasted such diverse projects as the screen adaptation of "Dreamgirls" (2006) and director Werner Herzog's psychodrama "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?" (2009). Exceptionally talented, professional and prolific, Devine had become one of Hollywood's most dependable ensemble cast members.