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Actress who’s built a remarkable career in entertainment



Valerie Pettiford has paid her dues and deserves her flowers. Over the years, she graced the big screen in many roles and has earned herself praise from fans, thanks to her acting talent. Whether she is acting on stage or the big screen, or singing in the studio, Pettiford always drops jaws.

So, who is Valerie Pettiford?

Valerie Pettiford smile

Valerie Pettiford biography

Born in 1960, Valarie Pettiford is an accomplished American actress, dancer and jazz singer who is renowned for her work on stage and television. Her parents are Ralph and Blanch Pettiford, and she hails from Queens, New York, in the United States.

She attended the High School of Performing Arts in 1978.

Valerie Pettiford career

At the young age of 17 in 1978, Pettiford made her movie debut in The Wiz. As she progressed, she honed her skills as a dancer and choreographer. She subsequently worked as a dancer and choreographer in Bob Fosse’s shows on Broadway.

In an article written by Alvin Klein for The New York Times, Pettiford was praised for her performance in the 1983 musical revue, Ladies and Gentlemen, Jerome Kern! According to Klein, Pettiford was the standout, a flexible dancer who can be sexy or sweet as needed. In West Side Story in 1987, the New York Times once again praised Pettiford’s “Anita” as spicy, sensual and exciting.

During the 1990s, Pettiford appeared on daytime soap operas like Another World and One Life to Live. In 1994, she played a lesbian character in The Naked Truth, and she starred as “Julie” in a touring version of Show Boat from 1995 to 1996.

Pettiford got nominated for a Tony Award for “Best Supporting Actress in a Musical” and also for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for her part in the Broadway show Fosse between 1998 and 1999. Reviewers from Variety said Pettiford’s singing was elegant and her dancing was sultry and strong.

After leaving Fosse, she played “Velma Kelly” in Chicago in London’s West End from August 1999 to February 2000, alongside Chita Rivera who played “Roxie Hart”.

In 2001, Pettiford acted as Mariah Carey’s mother in the movie, Glitter. Her role as “Dee Dee Thorne” on Half & Half from 2002 to 2006 led to her getting nominated for three NAACP Image Awards. While on Half & Half, Pettiford showcased her singing talent and ventured into the world of music.

Hence, she put out a jazz album titled Hear My Soul in 2005. In an interview with Ed Gordon, when asked why she went into music when she had so much already going on for her on the acting scene, the Glitter star said, “Yes, indeed. You know, I’m a dancer first. That was always my first love, but I’ve had this burning desire and then incredible human beings like Gwen Verdon and Fosse and people along the way have encouraged me to sing. And then, of course, you know, working with Phyllis Hyman and Gregory Hines, that, you know, also gave me the emphasis to go forward with that.

“And so, when I finally got the opportunity, my husband and my musical director, Mr. Ron Abel, we all decided, let’s go for it. Let’s do it. So the songs on my CD are, you know, part of my life. They all mean something in a very deep and spiritual and very fun way.”

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She returned to the acting set and starred in the 2007 film, Stomp the Yard. In 2007, Pettiford won two awards: the Backstage Bistro Award for her first cabaret performance at the Metropolitan Room in New York City, and an NAACP Theatre Award for her part in The Wild Party. In 2008, she headlined a one-person show, titled: Valarie Pettiford – Thankful, which ran in both New York City and Los Angeles. 

Between 2008 and 2009, she portrayed “Sandra Lucas” in the comedy-drama series Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. She also appeared in the HBO pilot Anatomy of Hope. 

In the NBC drama The Blacklist, Pettiford had a recurring part as the wife of “Harold Cooper”, the Assistant Director of the FBI Counter-Terrorism Division. She also starred as “Emily Mather” in the TV series, A Discovery of Witches. In 2009, she organised another solo performance, titled: Valarie Pettiford – The Concert in New York City.

In 2011, she portrayed “Aunt Geneva” in the movie Jumping the Broom.

Valerie Pettiford

Valerie Pettiford movies

The movies and TV series that Pettiford has starred in include:

  • The Wiz (1978)
  • The Cotton Club (1984)
  • The Equalizer (1988)
  • Robots (1988)
  • Another World (1988-1990)
  • Street Hunter (1990)
  • One Life to Live (1990-1994)
  • The Sentinel (1996)
  • Silk Stalking (1997)
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show (1997)
  • Fame L.A (1997-1998)
  • Walker, Texas Ranger (1998)
  • Sliders (1998)
  • The X-Files (1999)
  • Any Day Now (2001)
  • Jack & Jill (2001)
  • Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (2001)
  • Frasier (2001)
  • Men, Women & Dogs (2001)
  • Confidences (2001)
  • Glitter (2001)
  • State of Grace (2002)
  • The West Wing (2002)
  • Like Mike (2002)
  • The District (2002-2004)
  • Half & Half (2002-2006)
  • Paris (2003)
  • CSI: Maimi (2006)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2007)
  • Bones (2007)
  • Stomp the Yard (2007)
  • The Stolen Months of September (2007)
  • Criminal Minds (2009)
  • Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (2008-2011)
  • Why Am I Doing This (2009)
  • Guys and Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl (2009)
  • Anatomy of Hope (2009)
  • Why Did I Get Married Too (2010)
  • Not Your Time (2010)
  • The Cape (2011)
  • Jumping the Broom (2011)
  • Nurse Jackée (2011)
  • The Finder (2012)
  • Hart of Dixie (2012)
  • Bunheads (2012)
  • Treme (2012)
  • Battlefield America (2012)
  • Note to Self (2012)
  • Birth Mother (2012)
  • Love Will Keep Us Together (2012)
  • Golden Boy (2013)
  • True Blood (2013)
  • The Dempsey Sisters (2013)
  • My Favourite Five (2015)
  • Welcome to the Family (2015)
  • Born Again Virgin (2015-2016)
  • The Blacklist (2015-2021)
  • The Secret of Emily Blair (2016)
  • Black-ish (2016)
  • Boy Bye (2016)
  • A Moment (2016)
  • The Preacher’s Son (2017)
  • Being Mary Jane (2017)
  • Valor (2017-2018)
  • The Choir Director (2018)
  • No More Mr Nice Guy (2018)
  • We Belong Together (2018)
  • Jingle Belle (2018)
  • The Family Business (2018-Present)
  • A Discovery of Witches (2018-2022)
  • The Baxter (2019)
  • Blind Sight (2019)
  • If Not Now, When (2019)
  • Surviving in L.A (2020)
  • Love Is Love Is Love (2020)
  • BlackAF (2020)
  • Senior Moment (2021)
  • Hip Hop Family (2021)
  • Merry Switchmas (2021)
  • Home Economics (2021)
  • A Luv Tale: The Series (2021)
  • NCIS (2021)

Valerie Pettiford smiling face
Valerie Pettiford’s net worth

According to reports, Pettiford’s net worth is estimated to be between $1 million to $5 million.

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Valerie Pettiford family

Pettiford is married to Tony Rader. Rader, an actor and a former pitcher for the Philadelphia team, is not only her husband but also her manager. Their love story began in 1991 when they got engaged and they later tied the knot in a private ceremony.

Rader and Pettiford worked together to produce a collection of original lullabies. This idea was born when they were thinking about starting a family and wanted to create something special. In an interview, Pettiford shared that her favourite song from the album is My Miracle, penned by Wooten and Orland. This track holds a special place for her as it touches on the challenges women face in conceiving. 

Pettiford and her husband did not stop at the first album. They released their second album, Velvet Sky. This album has 13 tracks, which were written by Pettiford and a team of talented writers, including Ron Abel, Chuck Steffan, Michael Orland and Jamie Wooten.

Valerie Pettiford at an event

Valerie Pettiford age

Pettiford was born on July 8, 1960. She is 63 years old as of 2023.

Valerie Pettiford Instagram

Valerie Pettiford is active on Instagram under the username @valeriepettiford. As of the time of writing this piece, Pettiford has 45,900 followers.

However, her account is set to private and cannot be accessed by the public except she grants permission. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

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