Dawnn Lewis is an American actress, voice actress, singer, and songwriter. She is recognized for her role as Jaleesa Vinson–Taylor on NBC’s ‘A Different World,’ for which she also co-wrote the theme song. Her other notable works include ABC’s ‘Hangin' With Mr. Cooper’ and the action comedy movie ‘I'm Gonna Git You Sucka’. Born in Brooklyn, New York City, Lewis showed early signs of tremendous talent when she began singing at the age of four and acting at 11. Her passion for the performing arts inspired her to attend New York City’s High School of Music & Art. She then went on to major in musical theatre at the University of Miami, eventually graduating in 1982. Lewis finally entered Hollywood in 1987 and has been consistently working since then. Behind the screen, the multitalented personality is a single, independent woman. She was previously married to former NBA player Johnny Newman.
Dawnn Lewis made her breakthrough in 1987 when she was cast as Jaleesa Vinson in NBC’s sitcom ‘A Different World’. She appeared in the first five of the series’ 6-season run and also co-wrote the show’s theme song with Stu Gardner and Bill Cosby. Then following an appearance in the game show ‘Super Password’, she joined the cast of ABC's ‘Hangin' with Mr. Cooper’ as Robin Dumars. Lewis, alongside Holly Robinson and En Vogue, also performed the show’s theme song for season 1.
In 2000, the actress featured in the five-episode miniseries ‘The 10th Kingdom’. Six years later, she played Deloris Van Cartier in ‘Sister Act the Musical’ that opened at the Pasadena Playhouse. Also, that year, she featured in the film adaptation of the musical ‘Dreamgirls’.
The year 2009 saw Lewis in the TV drama ‘One Tree Hill’. A year later, she had a recurring role in the popular drama ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’. From 2012-13, she played Dr. Knapp on NBC’s daytime soap opera ‘Days of Our Lives’. From 2014-18, the actress portrayed the recurring role of Patrice, a love interest of Lt. Provenza on ‘Major Crimes.’
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Dawnn Lewis has done considerable voice work. She has voiced Storm of the X-Men in three video games. She has also contributed to the TV series ‘The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy', 'Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm', 'Futurama', and 'Spider-Man: The Animated Series'.
In 2012, she voiced the character of Malora in the animated film ‘Strange Frame’. This was followed by her subsequent voice roles in ‘Doc McStuffins’, ‘Bunyan and Babe’ and ‘Spirit Riding Free’. In 2019, Lewis began voicing The Chief on Netflix’s action-adventure animated series ‘Carmen Sandiego’.
Family & Personal Life
Dawnn Lewis was born on August 13, 1961, in Brooklyn, New York, USA, to Carl and Joyce Lewis. Her parents are of African-American and Guyanese descent. She studied at the High School of Music & Art (present day - Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School). She then earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Miami in 1982.
Lewis married former NBA star Johnny Newman in the year 2004. The couple divorced in 2006.