Who is Lynn Whitfield?

Lynn Butler-Smith was born on 6 May 1953, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, and is a producer as well as an actress, best known for rising to prominence in her titular role in “The Josephine Baker Story”. Since then, she’s had starring roles in films such as “A Think Line Between Love and Hate”, and “Head of State”.

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The Wealth of Lynn Whitfield

How rich is Lynn Whitfield? As of late-2019, sources estimate a net worth that is over $3 million, earned through a successful career as an actress.

She’s been active in the entertainment industry since 1981, and has won numerous awards during her career. As she continues on with her endeavors, it is expected that her wealth will also continues to increase.

Early Life, Education, and Career Beginnings

Lynn grew up in Baton Rouge with her father who worked as an officer for a finance agency, while her mother was a dentist. She grew up as the eldest among four children, and her father helped develop her interest in acting as he was an active figure in forming community theatre in her area.

After matriculating from high school, she enrolled at Howard University to complete a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. The private university is an historically black university, though is now open to all sexes and races. Following the completion of her degree, she moved permanently to Washington, D.C. to study and perform with the Black Repertory Company. She started to gain a bit of attention, and would later move to New York to perform in off-Broadway productions. In 1977, she gained acclaim for her work in the production “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf” in which she appeared alongside Alfre Woodard.

Lynn Whitfield

Television Career

After her run on theatre, Whitfield started to gain more projects on television, making her debut as a part of the critically acclaimed NBC show entitled “Hill Street Blues”, in which she played Jill Thomas. In 1983, she worked on the comedy film “Doctor Detroit” in a supporting role before having a string of other films, including “The Slugger’s Wife” and “The Revenge”. She had a starring role in “The George McKenna Story”, and “The Women of Brewster Place”, in which she appeared alongside Oprah Winfrey. She also became a cast member of the medical drama series “HeartBeat”, but which was short lived.

In 1991, she gained wide recognition for her performance in “The Josephine Baker Story” portraying the cabaret star who would become a French Resistance fighter during World War II –  she was chosen over hundreds of women who auditioned. She had to appear nude on screen and had to age from 18 to 68 as a part of the story. She won a Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, and NAACP Image Award for her performance. This led her to more television projects, including “Equal Justice”, and “A Triumph of the Heart: The Rickey Bell Story”.

Latter Career

After a string of television movies, Lynn had a regular role in “The Cosby Mysteries”, which aired in 1994 but was short lived, only lasting for a year. She then had a lead role in the film “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate” opposite Martin Lawrence. The film was successful at the box office, and she then worked on “Gone Fishin’” alongside Danny Glover. She had a supporting role in “The Planet of Junior Brown”, and portrayed the mother in the acclaimed independent film “Eve’s Bayou”. In the 2000s, she settled for taking more supporting roles.

Some of the projects she worked on during this period include “Head of State”, “Madea’s Family Reunion”, and “The Women”. She also had roles in low profile movies, and worked on the Disney Channel film “The Cheetah Girls” as well as its sequel. She had recurring roles in both “Without a Trace” and “Boston Public” before appearing as a villain in “How to Get Away with Murder”. One of her most recent projects is the Oprah Winfrey Network series entitled “Greenleaf”, which follows the story of a family and their megachurch. She portrays a power- and money-hungry matriarch of the family, and received positive reviews for her performance.

Personal Life and Social Media

For her personal life, it is known that Lynn married Vantile Whitfield in 1974, adopting his last name during the time before she had risen to fame as an actress, but  they stayed together for only four years before getting a divoring. Her next marriage would be to director Brian Gibson, again short-lived, from 1990 to 1992, with their marriage also ending in divorce. They have a child together, and since then, there have been no new relationships reported on her end. Reports state that she lived in the Upper East Side of Manhattan during the 2000s though it is not known if she continues to reside there.

Similar to numerous actresses, Lynn is highly active online through accounts on social media. She has over 220,000 followers on Instagram, her profile stating that she is a Christian, music lover, and traveler. She is also an enthusiast of interior design. Her daughter has opted to pursue a career in music, and Lynn has been very supportive of her endeavors. Another account she has is on Facebook, with over 25,000 followers, but the account has not been updated since 2018. Her accounts mostly post personal photos, behind the scenes footage, and promotions of her projects.


Benjy is currently a reporter for BiographyPedia based in Adelaide, Australia. Prior to joining BiographyPedia in July 2019, he was a Bizarre TV reporter and theatre critic at TheSun. Benjy has also written for DailyMail and TMZ. Benjy studied journalism at Goldsmiths University of London, graduating in 2009. You can contact him at [email protected]

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