Award winning and celebrated actress Kimberly Elise has garnered notable critical acclaim for her roles in such features as "Beloved," "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Diary of a Mad Black Woman."
Elise began acting professionally on the theatrical stages of her native town Minneapolis. A graduate of University of Minnesota with a degree in communications, she later attended the prestigious American Film Institute in Los Angeles as a directing fellow. Elise’s feature debut was in the film "Set it Off," for which she received critical acclaim for her performance. She followed up with and a Best Supporting Actress Cable ACE award for her work in "The Ditchdigger’s Daughters." Her performance in "Beloved" opposite Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover shortly thereafter garnered her several awards, including The Chicago Film Critic’s Most Promising Actress Award, an NAACP Image Award nomination as well as the Best Supporting Actress Golden Satellite Award.
In 2000, Elise stepped into the lead for the made-for-television feature "The Loretta Claiborne Story," playing the mentally and physically disabled athlete who made a name for herself by overcoming tremendous odds and becoming a competitor in the Special Olympics. Itching to return to the stage, Elise took on the role of Beneatha in A Raisin in the Sun at the Williamstown Theater Festival. Upon closing the play, lead roles in "Bait" with Jamie Foxx and "Bojangles" with Gregory Hines quickly followed.
By the time she appeared in "John Q" as a financially-strained mother whose husband's insurance wouldn't cover their son's heart transplant, Elise had been singled out by many critics to be one of Hollywood's brightest young stars, and her strong performance in the film opposite Denzel Washington only helped to strengthen that sentiment and earn her two more NAACP Image Award nominations. In 2004, Elise would once again appear with Washington in the Jonathon Demme remake "The Manchurian Candidate." The provocative story line that spoke to many and the artistic challenge led her to her next project, the independent film "Woman Thou Art Loosed," where her performance earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress and her fourth NAACP Image Award nomination.
This was swiftly followed by Elise’s powerhouse lead performance in "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," a small independent film which opened at number one at the box office and went on to earn nearly 60 million dollars, making Elise a rarity - an African American actress able to open a movie at number one. Her performance in "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" garnered Elise the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Theatrical Film BET Comedy Award and the Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture NAACP Image Award. In addition, the 2006 Pan African Film and Arts Festival honored Elise with the Beah Richards Award for her outstanding contributions to American film. She was also the recipient of the 2005 Rising Star Black Movie Award.
Elise earned her second NAACP Best Actress Image Award for her portrayal of prosecutor Maureen Scofield on Jerry Bruckheimer’s CBS television show "Close To Home." In 2007, Elise starred opposite Terrence Howard in the Lion’s Gate film "Pride" as well as "The Great Debaters," starring opposite Forest Whitaker with Denzel Washington.
Most recently Elise starred opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. in the TNT presentation of "Gifted Hands—The Ben Carson Story" directed by Thomas Carter, earning her third NAACP Image Award for Best Actress. Elise also starred in the highly anticipated Tyler Perry film "For Colored Girls" in 2010. She recently completed filming the dramedy "Highland Park" where she stars with Parker Posey and Danny Glover.