Phylicia Rashad was destined to be a staple in Black excellence since birth. She went from simple beginnings growing up in Houston, Texas to being a notarized matriarch in some of entertainment's most exceptional projects. Her effortless poise and elegant beauty are just some reasons why Phylicia is not only noted as one of the most dynamic women in the industry, but in society as a whole.
As we wish Ms. Rashad a Happy 71st Birthday, we want to share five fun facts you may not have known about the iconic mother, artist, and philanthropist.
1. Aside from graduating from the illustrious Howard University magna cum laude, Phylicia is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. As time went on, she's dedicated herself to preserving HBCUs everywhere.
She shared her sentiments of being a part of the legendary institution in open letter to Essence:
"Like the other hundred plus HBCUs across the country, Howard is both an embodiment of, and testament to excellence and perseverance. It, and all of our nation’s HBCUs, connect generations together and serve as both the creators and chroniclers of achievement in America – they cultivate talented, critical thinkers and house some of the most impressive collections of African American art, history, and culture in the country”
2. Phylicia was named an adviser and ambassador for the African American Cultural Heritage Act Fund. AACHF is an initiative created to preserve historic places and land that played a major role in African-American advancement.
A key place Ms. Rashad has a connection with is a piece of Houston where a schoolhouse was built for newly freed black children that her grandparents attended. The school was later turned into a junior college, in which both of her parents attended and graduated from, prior to closing its doors for good. Shortly there after, she and her sister, Debbie Allen, purchased the property and created a community center entitled, Ayers-Allen.
3. Talent runs thick in the blood of Phylicia Rashad and her siblings. Everyone knows her notorious sister, actress/choreographer Debbie Allen, but please note that she has a brother named, Tex, who is a jazz musician.
The artistic gene clearly also took hold of her daughter, Condola Rashad. The 32-year-old is currently playing "Kate Sacker" on Billions. Ms. Rashad expressed how "stunned" and "pleased" she is with her daughter's talent/professionalism in a 2017 Associated Press interview.
4. Phylicia played a mother role to Chadwick Boseman way before her iconic "Clair Huxtable" days.
Prior to making a name for himself, the aspiring actor took extra acting classes lead by Rashad while attending Howard University. He shared with RollingStone, "She would do a play in D.C. and you’d go see it, and she’d drive you home and talk to you. 'How you eating? You look too skinny. You need a pork chop.’ We were just trying to aspire to her excellence.”
Chadwick also detailed applying to a prestigious theater program at Oxford that he, along with other students, were accepted into. However, due to financial reasons the group soon realized they couldn't afford to go. Lucky for them, their generous mentor gathered "some celebrity friends" to sponsor them.
5. A Raisin In The Sun is an African-American cult classic by playwright, Lorraine Hansberry that has been appreciated for the ages. Phylicia Rashad joined the ranks of Sean Combs and Sanaa Lathan to revive characters with direction from Kenny Leon.
Phylicia's phenomenal work earned her a Tony Award making her the first black lead actress in a play to receive the honor.
Happy Birthday, Queen 🎂
Photo: Getty & Condola Rashad Instagram (@dolabunny)