January 20, 1944
Mangum, Oklahoma, United States
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Margaret Avery was an American actress born in Mangum, Oklahoma on January 20, 1944. Graduating from San Francisco State University with an education degree in 1965, she began acting in stage productions while working as a substitute teacher. Avery made her debut in the TV movie "Something Evil" (1972), directed by Steven Spielberg. That same year, she made her film debut in "Cool Breeze" (1972), a sign of her prolific work in so-called "Blaxploitation" films to come. Throughout the '70s and early '80s, Avery continued to build up supporting TV and film role credits, such as a one episode appearance on "Sanford and Son" (NBC, 1972-77) in 1975. In 1985, Avery landed her biggest and most widely praised role to date as Shug in "The Color Purple" (1985). After Tina Turner turned down the role, director Spielberg cast Avery after working with her 13 years prior on "Something Evil." She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role, but nevertheless lost after she placed an ad in a trade publication, waging a campaign in order to receive the award. Since "The Color Purple," Avery's roles have been brief appearances in TV shows, mostly, including roles on "The Cosby Show" (NBC, 1984-92) in 1992 and "Walker, Texas Ranger" (CBS, 1993-2001) in 1997. Recently, however, she has received success and praise for her main cast role on the drama "Being Mary Jane" (BET, 2013- ).