Who is Telma Hopkins?

A singer and actress with over 70 acting credits to her name, Telma Hopkins is probably still best known for her role as Phyllis Thorne in the early 2000s series “Half & Half”, which brought her numerous award nominations, including the BET Comedy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, which she won in 2005. Telma is also well-known for her portrayal of Rachel Crawford in the popular late ‘90s sitcom “Family Matters”, while the younger audience and movie lovers will perhaps recognize her as Freya in the 2021 hit movie “The Matrix Resurrections”.

Let us tell you more about her career, her life, and what this renowned actress is doing today.

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Early life, family, and education

Born Telma Louise Hopkins under the zodiac sign of Scorpio on 28 October 1948, she’s today aged 74 (as of July 2023). A native of Louisville, Kentucky USA, Telma holds American nationality and her ethnicity is African-American. Telma spent most of her childhood in Highland Park, Michigan, where she was raised by her grandmother. She hasn’t spoken about her parents, but it’s known that she has a sister named Teresa, who tried her hand as an actress in the 2010 movie “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, in which she played Titania.

When it comes to Telma, she knew from an early age that she wanted to be a singer. Upon matriculating from high school in 1966, Telma didn’t go to college but pursued her career as a background singer, working with many great names such as Freda Payne and Marvin Gaye.

Music career

Telma rose to fame in the early 1970s as a member of the music group Tony Orlando and Dawn. Joyce Vincent Wilson was the third member of the trio, along with Telma and Tony. Telma was singing back vocals for Motown at the time, and when Tony asked her and Joyce to become a group, she replied ‘yes’ almost instantly.

Tony Orlando and Dawn had a lot of success as a music group in the second half of the 1970s, releasing 16 top-40 songs, three of which hit number one, and starring in a Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) variety show, “ Tony Orlando and Dawn”, from 1974 through 1976. They announced their disbandment in 1977.

Roles in series

Telma made her acting debut playing Daisy in the 1979 TV mini-series “Roots: Next Generation”, which won two Primetime Emmys. Later that year, Telma was seen in less than five episodes of the series “A New Kind of Family”, followed by her role as Isabelle Hammond in the comedy “Bosom Buddies”, also starring Tom Hanks, Peter Scolari and Donna Dixon. The show aired from 1980 through 1982, and Telma was seen in all 37 episodes.

In the following year, Telma was cast to play her breakthrough role, as Addy Wilson in the series “Gimme a Break!“, that aired until 1987. Telma made an appearance in 68 episodes of this comedy-drama, which followed the story of Nell, a housekeeper to widowed police chief Carl, who takes on the role of a parental figure to Carl’s children. The stars of the show were Nell Carter, Kari Michaelsen and Lara Jill Miller, and it had 14 award nominations, including two for Primetime Emmys.

From 1989 to 1997, Telma played one of her most notable roles when seen as Rachel Crawford in 93 episodes of the series “Family Matters”, starring Reginald VelJohnson, Darius McCrary and Jaleel White. This comedy-drama followed the story of the Winslow family and their misadventures, mostly caused by Steve Urkel, their ultra-nerd neighbor. The series had 17 award nominations, including one for Primetime Emmy (Outstanding Special Visual Effects), and nine wins.

Concurrently, Telma was seen as Dolores Dixon in the series “Getting By”, which aired during 1993 and 1994. Telma starred opposite Deon Richmond and Cindy Williams in this family comedy which followed the story of two women and their children all living together in a large house.

Since the list of Telma’s roles is too long, we’ll just mention her most notable, such as her portrayal of Phyllis Thorne in “Half & Half“. Between 2002 and 2006, Telma was seen in 91 episodes of this comedy about two half-sisters with the same father, who now as adults live in the same building and are trying to bond. For her performance in the show, Telma was four times nominated for the Image Award- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (in 2004, ’05, ’06, and ’07), and after she won the aforementioned BET Comedy Award in 2004, in the following year she was nominated for the same.

In the following years, Telma guest starred in some series such as “Psych” in 2008 before she was cast to play Marilyn in the comedy “Are We There Yet?”, seen in 39 episodes of this series between 2010 and 2012, which  was based on the eponymous hit movie.

Telma was next seen in “Partners“ (2014), “2 Broke Girls“ (2016), and “Dear White People“ (2018). She followed with her voice role as Maybelle in the animated series “The Casagrandes“, and was heard in 25 episodes between 2019 and 2022. Concurrently, Telma played Maybelle in eleven episodes of the series “Family Reunion“, and was seen as Yolanda in “Dead to Me”, a comedy crime-drama, starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini. This story of a powerful friendship had 65 award nominations (six for Primetime Emmy) and won three.

Most recently, Telma appeared in the 2023 series’ “Not Dead Yet” and “Run the World”.

Roles in movies

Making her movie debut as K. C. Jones in the 1979 TV drama “Marie”, Telma followed in 1982 with her role as Gail in another TV movie, “The Kid with the Broken Halo”. Two years later, she made her first big screen appearance as Engineer Raines in the science-fiction action “Trancers”, a role she reprised in its sequels “Trancers: City of Lost Angels” (1988), “Trancers II” (1991), and “Trancers III” (1992).

The late ‘90s saw Telma as Slim’s Mother in the romantic comedy “The Wood”, written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, which was nominated for the Imagen Award for Outstanding Motion Picture.

In the new millenium, in 2001, Telma had an uncredited role in the movie “Down to Earth”, and her next movie role came in 2008 when she was cast to play Lillian in “The Love Guru”.

Telma was then seen starring as Gale in the 2010 drama “The Clean Up Woman”, written, directed by and starring JD Lawrence, which didn’t gain much success. Five years later, Telma played Irma in the drama “Mysterious Ways”, which followed the story of a woman whose son has died in a car accident, and she died inside – one day into her life comes a homeless man, who taught her that healing starts with forgiveness. Although the movie had no nominations, the audience loved it, and called it ‘a Christian-based faith struggle’.

Telma was next cast to play Dolly in the 2018 movie “Running Out Of Time”, followed by her role as Ruby in “Always a Bridesmaid” in 2019. Most recently, she was seen as Freya in the 2021 movie “The Matrix Resurrections”, starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, which ‘won’ the Golden Schmoes Award for Biggest Disappointment of the Year.

Love life and husband

As a young actress, Telma was the subject of various rumors about her romantic life. It’s known that she was married to non-celebrity, Donald B. Allen in 1970, but divorced seven years later. They have one son, whose name and birthdate haven’t been disclosed to date.

Telma was then in a relationship with the actor Jim Brown during the late ’70s, then when the two broke up, Telma began dating Avelio Falana, a famous “Shaft in Africa” actor. The two dated until 1980, when Telma met Robert Guillaume, also an actor, perhaps known best for his role in the series “Benson”. In 1993, Telma dated a famous actor Michael Dorn, known best as Worf in the “Star Trek” franchise.

In the late ’90s, Telma started a relationship with Rif Hutton, also an actor, having met on the set of the show “Getting By”. In 2000, it was reported that the two became engaged, and people mostly commented about their age difference, since Telma is nearly 15 years older than Rif. The couple separated and Rif married an actress, Bridget Hoffman, in the following year.

When it comes to Telma, she hasn’t married again, and as of July 2023, it seems that she’s single.

What is she doing today?

Although in her 70s, Telma is still an active actress, and will be seen in three upcoming TV series, entitled “The Wood”, “Dangerous Moms”, and “Clean Slate”, all three currently in development.

When she isn’t acting, Telma volunteers for charitable causes. She works with the Parent-Teacher Association, mentors children, and has worked with various non-profit groups that assist children with AIDS or other diseases.

Net worth

Thelma has an enviable number of roles, only some of which are very successful, but that doesn’t mean that this renowned actress hasn’t left an indelible mark in the world of show business. Her roles also brought her decent wealth, and according to sources, as of July 2023, her net worth has been estimated at over $3 million.

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