Loretta Devine was born on August 21, 1949 in Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of Houston in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Drama and BrandeisUniversity in 1976 with a MFA in Theater. Devine is a member of The Epsilon Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She began her career on Broadway starring in Dreamgirls. Minor roles for Devine followed in films such as Little Nikita (1988) and Stanley & Iris (1990). She also appeared in the first season of the TV series A Different World. In 1995, she landed a high-profile role as Gloria Matthews in Waiting to Exhale, joined in the cast by Whitney Houston, Gregory Hines, and Angela Bassett, among others. The role earned her an NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actress, as did her next movie, The Preachers Wife, her second movie with Houston and Hines. In 2000, Devine took on the role of impassioned high school teacher Marla Hendricks on the Fox TV drama Boston Public. Devine won three more Image Awards for her work in the series. She also continued to work in film, playing prominent roles in Urban Legend, Urban Legends: Final Cut, and I Am Sam. Devine earned yet another Image Award nomination and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her work in the 2004 film Woman Thou Art Loosed.