WELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS
Ever since being born premature and weighing only two pounds, stage and screen
actress MARGARET AVERY (Mamma Jenkins), has been a fighter and a survivor.
As a young woman, she fought to train for and get experience in an industry that
provided little opportunity for aspiring black actresses. After studying and learning her
craft, she fought for quality roles during a time when movie executives were quick to
assign black women to parts as maids, cooks, servants and other stereotypical roles.
Determined and undaunted, she became inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s messages
of equal opportunity for all, and fought for—and won—vital roles in such films as Which
Way is Up?, Magnum Force, Hell Up in Harlem, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,
Blueberry Hill and White Man’s Burden.
In 1985, Avery’s faith and persistence paid off when she was nominated for an
Academy Award® for her unforgettable role as the sultry and spirited blues singer, Shug
Avery, in The Color Purple, Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Alice Walker’s prizewinning
In 1998, she and award-winning actor Blair Underwood co-hosted and presented
the critically acclaimed docudrama, Sister, I’m Sorry: An Apology to our African
Avery recently completed filming Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, which stars
Today, while she continues to act, Ms. Avery also finds joy and fulfillment in
working with at-risk teenagers and battered women in greater Los Angeles. “That work
is especially rewarding,” she said, “because it has the capacity to change lives. It just
takes one person to reach out, with a kind word or deed or with a smile, to change
someone’s entire world...and I don’t mean, to give money all the time, because
sometimes that’s the easy part. I mean…to care enough to give another person the most
precious gift of all—the gift of hope.”
She also recently toured the slave dungeons of Ghana, the Mother Land. This
spiritual experience gave her an insight and understanding of her heritage and origin of
her survived roots.
Ms. Avery, an Oklahoma native who now lives in Los Angeles, has won
numerous awards for her acting and her activism, including a Los Angeles Drama Critics
Circle Award for her role in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? and an NAACP Lifetime
A former schoolteacher, Ms. Avery holds a bachelor of arts degree in education
from the University of San Francisco, and a master’s degree in marriage, family and child
therapy. She lectures across the country and abroad on issues involving women of color
and her passion in life: seeking to empower, enlighten and inspire.
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