Tunie began her acting career with musicals in New York. After a few years, she realized that she needed to transition to films and TV, as appearing only in musicals was limiting her opportunities.
She made her ‘Broadway’ debut with 'Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music' in 1981. In 1986, she made her first TV appearance as 'Nina' in the 'ABC' crime drama 'Spenser: For Hire.'
She eventually ventured into films and made her debut with the 1987 comedy–drama 'Sweet Lorraine,' playing 'Julie.' Unfortunately, her performance went largely unnoticed. Despite that, she managed to gain some attention in the brief role of 'Carolyn' in 'Wall Street,' released that year.
Tunie had a contract role (1987–1995 and 2000–2009) as ‘District Attorney Jessica Griffin' in the 'CBS' soap opera 'As the World Turns.' Her performance got her nominated for a 'Soap Opera Digest Award' in 1995 and another in 2003. She was also nominated for an 'NAACP Image Award' in both 2003 and 2004, for the same role.
Tunie played 'Cynthia Harris' in the 1989 ensemble period comedy 'Bloodhounds of Broadway,' based on four Damon Runyon stories.
Continuing with her stage projects, she performed in David Merrick's revival of 'Oh Kay!' in 1990. She was seen as 'Lauren Smith' in the 1993 crime film 'Rising Sun' and as 'Pretoria "Tori" Thomas' in three episodes of the 'Fox' anthology 'Tribeca.'
From 1994 to 1997, she had the recurring role of 'Lillian Fancy' in the 'ABC' police-procedural drama 'NYPD Blue.'
Subsequently, she made several single-episode appearances, in projects such as 'seaQuest DSV' (as 'Laura’), 'New York Undercover' (as 'Janice’), 'Swift Justice' (as 'Jessie McKenna’), 'Law & Order' (as 'Caroline Bennett’), 'Feds' (as 'Martha Kershan’), 'Chicago Hope' (as 'Lennie Gaghan’), 'New York Undercover' (as 'Lana Brooks’), and 'Sex and the City' (as 'Eileen’)..
Tunie appeared as 'Alberta Green' in the premiere season of the 'Fox' action-drama '24.'
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Meanwhile, she also appeared as 'Miss Marcus' in the 1996 'HBO' movie 'Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault.' That year, she played 'Leslie Christos' in the suspense drama film 'City Hall.' She also made appearances in films such as 'Rescuing Desire' (as 'Van') and 'Quentin Carr' (as a detective).
Tunie played 'Anne' in the 1997 film 'Spirit Lost.' She also did voiceovers for the 'Cinemax' cable company. She appeared in the supernatural horror 'The Devil's Advocate' (as 'Mrs. Jackie Heath’). Tunie was the narrator of the drama film 'Eve's Bayou.'
She appeared as 'Caroline Bennett' in the 'NBC' police-procedural series 'Law & Order.' She also appeared in the recurring role of medical examiner 'Melinda Warner' in the spin-off and bagged the main role in the seventh season in 1996.
In January 1999, she played the iconic character of 'Maggie the Cat' in the first all African–American production of Tennessee Williams's play 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,' staged at the 'Virgínia State Theatre.'
In 2000, she portrayed ‘Cleopatra’ in the revival of William Shakespeare's 'Antony and Cleopatra,' staged at the 'New Jersey Shakespeare Festival.'
Some of Tunie's other prominent stage performances were at the European tour of 'Bubblin' Brown Sugar'; in 'Troilus and Cressida' at the 'New York Shakespeare Festival' (as ‘Helen of Troy’); at the 'Dreamgirls' 20th-anniversary benefit concert in 2001; in the off-‘Broadway’ musical 'Call The Children Home' (as 'Mary') in 2002; in the ‘Broadway’ revival of ‘Julius Caesar,’ starring opposite 'Academy Award'-winning actor Denzel Washington; in 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' (as the scheming 'La Marquise de Merteuil') for the 'Shakespeare Theatre' of New Jersey; and in 'Tartuffe' at the 'New Jersey Shakespeare Festival.'
She not only performs as a stage artist but also sings as a mezzo-soprano in the music departments of various stage productions.
In 2001, she was nominated for the 'Independent Spirit Awards' for her performance as 'Sheila Ledbetter' in the mystery–drama film 'The Caveman's Valentine,' an adaptation of George Dawes Green's novel.
In 2004, she did the voiceover for the 'Downy Simple Pleasures' commercials. The following year, she played 'Calpurnia' in Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' at the 'Belasco Theatre,' New York City.
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In 2006, she presented the 'Tony'-winning musical 'Spring Awakening,' based on Frank Wedekind's play at the 'Eugene O'Neill Theatre.' In 2007, she received a 'Tony Award' as a co-producer for the musical 'Spring Awakening.'
She was also nominated for a 'Tony Award' for co-producing 'Radio Golf.' In 2010, Tunie performed in 'All's Well That Ends Well,' for a 'Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’ production at 'Drew University' in Madison.
That year, she also made her directorial debut with the romantic comedy 'See You in September.'
Tunie was nominated for a 'SLFCA Award' and a 'Black Reel Award' for her role as a surviving flight attendant, 'Margaret Thomason,' in the 2012 drama film 'Flight.'
In 2014, she began playing 'Marie Van Der Veen,' one of the main characters in the 'SundanceTV' drama 'The Red Road.' She played 'Jessica Winters' in the 2015 TV movie 'Captain Blackout.'
In 2016, she won an 'Obie Award' for her performance as 'Marvelous Chinyaramwira' (‘Mai Tendi’) in the play 'Familiar,' commissioned by 'Yale Repertory Theatre.'
From 2016 to 2018, she played 'Monica Graham' in the 'CBS' police procedural 'Blue Bloods' and 'Anita' in three episodes of the 'AMC' crime drama 'Better Call Saul.'
She was cast as ‘Assistant Secretary Eunice Clayton,' one of the main characters in the 2018 'BBC Two' and 'Netflix' co-production 'Black Earth Rising.' She played 'Julia Smith' in the 'AMC' dark comedy 'Dietland.' The show got canceled on September 20, 2018.
Family & Personal Life
Tunie's parents are morticians, and her father runs a funeral home in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is of Native American, European, and African ancestry. Her paternal great-grandmother was a full-blooded Indian.
Tunie initially got married to Greg Bouquett in 1988. The couple separated in 1991. In 1995, she married Gregory Generet, a jazz vocalist and post editor. They announced their break-up in 2015.
Tunie is associated with several philanthropic causes. She serves as the chair emerita of the board of directors of the non-profit 'Figure Skating in Harlem.’ She is also a board member of 'God's Love We Deliver' and serves on the advisory board of 'Hearts of Gold.'
She is a huge fan of the American football team 'Pittsburgh Steelers.'
An avid pet lover, she owns a French Bulldog named Spraga.