Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a talented up-and-coming star taking Hollywood by storm, having first risen to prominence in the comedy Dolemite Is My Name. The dynamic actress began her entertainment career on stage, earning a Tony Award nomination for her performance as Oda Mae Brown in the Broadway show Ghost: The Musical. Randolph shifted her focus to the big and small screen with impressive roles in shows like High Fidelity, Only Murders in the Building, and the controversial HBO drama The Idol.
She was downright phenomenal when she appeared opposite comedy legend Eddie Murphy as Lady Reed in the Netflix original film Dolemite Is My Name, and has continued to demonstrate her sensational acting prowess in movies including The United States vs. Billie Holiday, The Lost City, and The Holdovers. Let’s check out some of Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s best performances so far.
10 This Is Us
In the emotionally-driven, fan-favorite 2016 family drama series This Is Us, Jack and Rebecca Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore) raise their diverse triplets Kevin, Kate, and Randall in a loving and supportive home in Pittsburgh in the 1980s and ’90s, with the show utilizing both flashbacks and flashforwards to depict their upbringing and the dynamic between the siblings and their devoted parents.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph appears in the first season of the popular drama as Tanya, one of Kate’s close friends and someone Randall has a complicated history following an eye-opening experience from his youth.
Evan Rachel Wood stars as an emotionally stunted young woman raised by her two perpetually-scheming con artist parents in the 2020 crime dramedy Kajillionaire, following Old Dolio Dyne as she finds her life completely shaken up when her criminal folks enlist the help of an outsider (Gina Rodriguez) to join in on their latest scam, straining the trio’s already rocky relationship.
Randolph portrays Jenny, a massage therapist Old Dolio attempts to swindle money from, though the pair ultimately share both a tender and hilariously awkward moment when the troubled character breaks down in tears over her discomfort of being touched. Despite the role being small, the actress shined and showcased her impressive comedic skills.
8 High Fidelity
Based on the Nick Hornby novel and subsequent film adaptation of the same name, the criminally underrated 2020 romantic comedy series High Fidelity stars Zoë Kravitz as Championship Vinyl record store owner Robyn “Rob” Brooks, chronicling the unlucky-at-love leading lady’s past failed relationships while attempting to keep her Brooklyn business afloat amid her emotional turmoil. Da’Vine Joy Randolph stars as Rob’s best friend and employee Cherise, an aspiring musician who has an endless taste in music and is full of wit and charisma.
High Fidelity was shockingly canceled after just one season despite earning widespread praise from critics, and the second season would have made Cherise the main lead had it not been axed. The actress was just as perplexed as fans were by the decision to end the show, revealing in an interview with W Magazine, “I don’t think anyone knows. I don’t think Zoë [Kravitz] even knows, we talked about it. The only thing that I would remotely think could possibly be the reason was that it literally aired right as Covid hit.”
7 The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Andra Day won a Golden Globe Award for her phenomenal performance as the legendary eponymous singer in the 2021 biographical drama The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
It depicts her remarkable and trailblazing career as she achieved massive mainstream success in the 1940s and ’50s with iconic songs like “Strange Fruit” and “Lady Sings the Blues,” while also shining a light on her struggles with addiction and finding love. Randolph is brilliant as Billie’s loyal confidante and childhood best friend Roslyn, who remains by the songstress’ side through her ups and downs with her devotion never wavering.
When discussing the challenges of portraying a real-life person, Randolph once expressed, “There’s a point where I feel as though you connect with the essence and the soul and the spirit of the person in a way that then you’re kind of guided. You have to, at a certain point, surrender and be like, listen, I only know what I know, but instinctually this is what I feel is how they would act or respond knowing the information that I do.”
6 The Lost City
Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum were the ultimate dynamic duo when they headlined the 2022 action-adventure comedy The Lost City.
It focuses on the successful but lonely romance novelist Loretta Sage as she finds her passionless life turned upside down after she is kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) who is determined to locate the mythical city and its treasure she has written about in her books. It’s up to Loretta’s dimwitted-but-caring cover model Alan to rescue the writer (whom he secretly has a crush on), doing so with the help of her fiery and determined publicist Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).
The Lost City was both a slam dunk at the box office and a knockout with critics, earning over $192 million and garnering praise for its energetic performances, side-splitting humor, and screwball screenplay. Fans also thoroughly loved Randolph’s scene-stealing performance as the savvy publicist, with many considering her the real hero of the entertaining flick.
5 Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Antonio Banderas once again voiced the swashbuckling titular cat in the 2022 animated adventure comedy Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which follows the ferocious feline as he sets out to locate the wondrous Last Wish in order to restore his nine lives, racing against the clock to beat other criminals who want to capture the life-changing mystical star for themselves.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph voices the elderly cat lady Mama Luna, who takes in the wounded Puss and nurtures him back to good health so he can embark on his noble mission, hilariously naming him Pickles.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish went on to become nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and went on to earn an A CinemaScore while amassing a whopping $484.7 million. Empire Magazine wrote in their glowing review, “A cat always lands on its feet — and Puss In Boots: The Last Wish does so with considerable style, rapier wit, and surprising substance.”
4 On the Come Up
Based on the Angie Thomas novel of the same name, the 2022 musical drama On the Come Up, 16-year-old aspiring rapper Bri Jackson (Jamila C. Gray) sets out to follow her dreams and follow in her late father’s hip hop footsteps by becoming a world-famous artist and sharing her gift with the masses.
After her first song goes surprisingly viral for negative reasons, Bri makes it her mission to change the public’s opinion and demonstrate her raw talent. Randolph is fabulous as Bri’s supportive and loving Aunt Pooh, who always offers her guidance and encouragement and wants to see her do more with her life than she was able to do.
Randolph was able to showcase her impressive range as an actress in the engrossing adaptation, and it had its worldwide premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival where it was lauded for its powerful premise and endearing performances by its dynamic cast.
3 Only Murders in the Building
Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez made an unexpected but terrific crime-solving trio in the 2021 mystery dramedy series Only Murders in the Building, focusing on the true crime junkies as they set out to investigate some highly-suspicious murders in their upscale Upper West Side apartment building. During their amateur sleuthing, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel find themselves on the radar of Detective Williams (Randolph), who revisits one of her past murder cases after her wife renews her interest and intrigue after listening to a podcast.
The Hulu original program quickly attracted a passionate fan-following and proved to be a ratings hit for the streaming platform, garnering seven Golden Globe nominations and winning two Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards; a highly-anticipated fourth season is currently in the works. For her compelling portrayal, Randolph earned a nod for Best Actress in a Comedy Series at the Black Reel Awards for Television.
2 The Holdovers
In the 2023 dramedy The Holdovers, Paul Giamatti portrays a universally loathed teacher at a prestigious New England prep school in the 1970s.
He is tasked with overlooking students who are unable to return home for the holiday season and finds himself forming an unexpected but meaningful bond with a troubled kid (Dominic Sessa) and the school’s grieving head cook (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). The engaging and poignant picture focuses on Paul Hunham as he connects with the bright-yet-rebellious Angus and heartbroken fellow faculty member Mary, who tragically lost her beloved son in the Vietnam War.
The Holdovers made its impressive debut at the Telluride Film Festival where it tugged on the heartstrings of audiences and attracted widespread critical acclaim; Deadline Hollywood commended Randolph for her nuanced performance, writing that she “is simply wonderful, saying more with a look than any words could ever do. She is enormously touching and earns our tears along the way.”
1 Dolemite Is My Name
Da’Vine Joy Randolph showcased her impeccable skills as a dynamic performer when she shared the screen with comedy legend Eddie Murphy in the 2019 biographical comedy Dolemite Is My Name.
It centers on filmmaker and funny man Rudy Ray Moore as he creates his uproarious alter ego Dolemite, a pimp who starred in a series of blaxploitation movies in the 1970s that earned him the nickname “the Godfather of Rap.” Keegan-Michael Key appears as playwright Jerry Jones while Randolph shined as down-on-her-luck single mother Lady Lady Reed, who is enlisted by Moore to join his comedic stage act and finds her life transformed.
Dolemite Is My Name was a smash hit with both audiences and critics and was listed as one of the top ten films of the year by the National Board of Review, being lauded for not only Murphy’s spectacular portrayal but also for his talented cast members and its engrossing screenplay. Randolph took home both the AAFCA and Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress and the role helped skyrocket her to prominence.