Lela Rochon Staples is an American actress and producer, best known for her role in the critically acclaimed romantic movie 'Waiting to Exhale'. Intensely competitive from her formative years, she was a star athlete in high school, especially in track and basketball. She worked as a dancer and model for over a decade and appeared in numerous commercials before beginning to be recognized as an actress. Thanks to her versatility and powerful acting, she became a sought artist by producers and filmmakers. Some of her best performances were seen in movies, such as 'The Chamber', 'Gang Related', 'Knock Off', 'Why Do Fools Fall in Love' and 'Any Given Sunday'. With her passion and determination, she has successfully established herself as one of the most valued and relevant actresses of Hollywood. Rochon was once chosen among 'The 50 most beautiful people in the world' and 'The 10 Sexiest Women of the Year' by People magazine and Black Men Magazine, respectively. She is happily married to the American director Antoine Fuqua; and the couple has two children together.
Childhood & Early Life
Lela Rochon Staples was born on April 17, 1964 in Los Angeles, USA to Zelma and Samuel Staples. Zelma was a nurse practitioner; while Samuel owned a graphic-arts business.
After graduating from ‘Cerritos High School’ in Cerritos, California in 1982, she attended the ‘California State University’, Dominguez Hills. In 1986, she earned her BA degree in broadcast journalism with minors in sociology and theatre.
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While studying in college, Lela Rochon became one of the 'Spudettes', featured in the famous Spuds McKenzie Budweiser / Bud light TV commercials, between 1984 and 1986.
In 1982, she appeared as an extra in the movie Breakin'. Three years later, she was seen in the movie 'A Bunny’s Tale', which was based on Gloria Steinem's experiences as a Playboy Bunny.
In the early 1980s, Rochon appeared in music videos, such as 'My Forever Love' by Gerald Levert, 'It's Over Now' by Luther Vandross, 'All Night Long (All Night)' by Lionel Richie, 'Natalie' by Al B. Sure and 'I get Around' by Tupac Shakur.
She began her television career with guest appearances in sitcoms like 'The Cosby Show', '227', 'Amen', 'Hangin' with Mr. Cooper' and 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'.
In 1985, she made her movie debut in 'Fox Trap', starring opposite Fred Williamson. Two years later, she starred in the film 'The Wild Pair' as Debby.
In 1989, Rochon played the memorable character Sunshine in 'Harlem Nights', starring opposite Eddie Murphy. Three years later, she worked in the successful romantic comedy, 'Boomerang'.
She began appearing as a regular character on the WB sitcom 'The Wayans Bros' in 1995. In the same year, she essayed the role of Robin Stokes in the drama film 'Waiting to Exhale', an adaptation of the Terry McMillan novel. She starred opposite Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine in it.
In 1996, Rochon was cast in Showtime cable network’s film 'Mr. and Mrs. Loving' and the crime thriller film 'The Chamber'.
The year 1997 saw her starring in a crime thriller movie called 'Gang Related'. A year later, she was seen in films like 'Why Do Fools Fall in Love', 'Knock Off' and 'The Big Hit'. In 1999, she appeared in Oliver Stone-directed movie 'Any Given Sunday'.
In the 2000s, she was seen in the first season of the Lifetime crime drama series, 'The Division', the romantic comedy film 'First Daughter' (2004) and the crime drama movie 'Brooklyn's Finest' (2009). Her roles in the TV film 'Let The Church Say Amen' (2013) and the thriller movies 'Supremacy' (2014) and 'Reversion' (2015) were also praised.
In recent years, she has appeared in the CBS crime drama series 'Training Day' (2017). In October 2018, she joined the cast of the drama series 'David Makes Man' as a recurring character. The show is set to premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network in August 2019.
Awards & Achievements
Lela Rochon named one of 'The 50 most beautiful people in the world' by People magazine in 1996.
She was voted one of 'The 10 Sexiest Women of the Year' by the readers of Black Men Magazine in 2000.
Family & Personal Life
Lela Rochon is married to an American director named Antoine Fuqua since April 9, 1999. The couple has two children together, Asia and Brando Fuqua, born in 2002 and 2004, respectively. Antoine has a son called Zachary from his previous relationship.
Previously, she was married to Adolfo Quinones who is one of "The Original Lockers", the forefathers of hip-hop dancing. The couple divorced in 1987 after five years of marriage.
Lela Rochon’s close friends include Holly Robinson Peete and Vanessa Bell Calloway.
In 2016, she was invited by the ‘California State University’, her alma mater, to give a commencement speech.