Deborah Joy Winans is an American singer and actress. She is a member of the Winans family, a highly acclaimed family of gospel musicians based in Detroit, Michigan. Although the Winans family tradition required every member to become a gospel musician, Deborah Joy Winans chose to follow a different path. She was interested in acting, right from her early days. She earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and also received training from the ‘Moscow Art Theatre School.’ She made her acting debut in the short film ‘Fighting the Battle’ and her stage debut with the musical ‘Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story,’ in which she portrayed her real-life aunt, Priscilla “CeCe” Winans. Winans was chosen to perform as her aunt, in the TV movie ‘Whitney,’ too. Her acting career witnessed a breakthrough when she was chosen to play an important role in the drama series ‘Greenleaf,’ which is produced by the ‘Oprah Winfrey Network.’ Winans shot to fame with her character ‘Charity Greenleaf’ in this series. Winans was a guest voice-over artist for some major works, which include the album ‘The Sound,’ by the gospel singing duo ‘Mary Mary.’ She has toured across the United States with the ‘Women of Faith’ conference.
Childhood & Early Life
Deborah Joy Winans was born on September 6, 1983, in Detroit, Michigan. Carvin Winans is her father, and Deborah Kerr Winans is her mother. She has three brothers, Carvin Jr, Ian, and Juan. Her grandparents, David and Dolores Winans, were the first members of the family to venture into the field of gospel singing.
Opposed to the family tradition, Deborah was inclined more towards acting than singing. She acquired a ‘BFA’ degree from the ‘Wayne State University,’ Michigan. She received additional training from the ‘Moscow Art Theatre School,’ in Moscow. Later, Winans procured an ‘MFA’ qualification from the ‘California Institute of Arts.’
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In 2014, Deborah made her acting debut in the short film ‘Fighting the Battle.’ It was directed by Amber Torres. The film told the story of a soldier who developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, after his return from Afghanistan. In the film, Winans portrayed ‘Mia.’
In 2014, Deborah starred in the feature film ‘Fragile World,’ directed by Sandy Boikian. It told the story of a young woman who had a history of delusions. It dealt with matters such as emotional and spiritual healing. Deborah performed a small role in the movie.
In 2015, Deborah was cast in the biographical movie ‘Whitney.’ It was directed by Angela Bassett. It premiered on the ‘Lifetime’ channel. The movie was based on the real life story of the famed American singer Whitney Houston and her troubled marriage to singer Bobby Brown. She performed as ‘CeCe Winans,’ who was her aunt in real life. CeCe Winans was a gospel singer who won several ‘Grammy Awards.’
Deborah made her stage debut with the musical ‘Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story,’ where she performed as her aunt, ‘Priscilla “CeCe” Winans.’ In this play, she co-starred with her brother Juan, who performed the part of ‘BeBe Winans.’ The play was written by BeBe Winans and Charles Randolph Wright. It was performed in Atlanta and Washington D.C.
In 2016, Deborah bagged the role that proved to be a turning point in her career. She was chosen to portray ‘Charity Greenleaf Satterlee,’ in the drama series ‘Greenleaf.’ The series was created by Craig Wright and executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and ‘Lionsgate Television.’ It is being aired on the ‘Oprah Winfrey Network.’
‘Greenleaf’ is a series that tells the tale of an influential African-American family and the megachurch run by them. The story revolves around the life of the patriarch, ‘Bishop James Greenleaf,’ and other members of his family. Winans performs as ‘Charity Greenleaf Satterlee,’ who is the youngest daughter of ‘Bishop Greenleaf.’ She is also the ‘Minister of Music,’ at ‘Cavalry Fellowship.’ Deborah shot to fame with her portrayal of this feisty character. She lent her voice for the ‘Greenleaf’ soundtrack, ‘The Master’s Calling.’ After two weeks of its release, this song entered the top 20 of the ‘Gospel Billboard Chart.’
Winans has worked as a guest voice-over artist for several prestigious projects. This includes audio books by Kelly Price, and the music album ‘The Sound,’ by the gospel singing duo ‘Mary Mary.’ Winans has been a part of ‘Women of Faith’ conferences. She toured across the United States to empower women through conversations.
Family & Personal Life
Deborah Joy Winans is married to Terrence Williams, who is an attorney and a community activist. He is also the owner of the football team ‘The West Michigan Ironmen.’ He is the co-founder of the ‘WV Foundation’ that aims to provide assistance to underprivileged youth in West Michigan.
Deborah is an active supporter of her husband’s community service initiatives. The couple is not known to have children.