Born: April 17, 1964
Birthplace: Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Lela Rochon (born Lela Rochon Staples; April 17, 1964) is an American actress, best known for her breakthrough role as Robin Stokes in the 1995 romantic drama film Waiting to Exhale. She later had starring roles in films The Chamber (1996), Gang Related (1997), Knock Off (1998), and Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998).
Rochon was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the daughter of Zelma, a nurse practitioner, and Samuel Staples, a business owner and graphic artist, who are both of Haitian descent. She graduated Cerritos High School in Cerritos, California. She attended California State University, Dominguez Hills where she earned a BA in Broadcast Journalism, with minors in Sociology and Theatre. In 2016, Rochon returned to give the commencement speech at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
In 1982, Lela appeared as an extra in the movie Breakin’, where she met the man who would later become her husband. From 1986 to 1988, while attending college, Rochon was one of the "Spudettes" featured in over 30 national spots for the Spuds Mckenzie Budweiser/Bud Light TV commercials. She also appeared in the 1985 made-for-television film A Bunny's Tale starring Kirstie Alley and Delta Burke, based on Gloria Steinem's experiences as a Playboy Bunny. She appeared as the love interest of Gerald Levert in the video for "My Forever Love" by Levert, and in Luther Vandross's "It's Over Now" video. She also appeared in the music video for Lionel Richie's single "All Night Long (All Night)", in Al B. Sure's video for the song "Natalie"., and in Tupac Shakur's video "I Get Around as one of the female dancers. She had many guest starring roles in a number of sitcoms, include The Cosby Show, Amen, 227, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper.
Rochon made her film debut in 1985, when she starred opposite Fred Williamson in Fox Trap. In 1987, she played the role of Debby in the film The Wild Pair, starring Beau Bridges and Bubba Smith. In 1989, Rochon acted opposite Eddie Murphy in 1989's Harlem Nights, as the memorable "Sunshine" character. She again worked with Murphy in the successful 1992 romantic comedy, Boomerang. In 1995, she was regular cast member during the first season of The WB sitcom, The Wayans Bros.
Rochon' biggest break came in 1995, when she landed one of the lead roles opposite Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine in the adaptation of the Terry McMillan novel and highly successful drama film Waiting to Exhale. She played the character Robin Stokes, for which she was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. Rochon was chosen by People magazine as one of the "50 most beautiful people in the world" in 1996.
In 1996, Rochon starred opposite Timothy Hutton in the Showtime cable network film Mr. and Mrs. Loving, receiving a Cable Ace Award nomination for Best Actress. Later that year, she played the female lead in the crime thriller film The Chamber. The following year, she starred alongside Jim Belushi and Tupac Shakur in the crime thriller Gang Related. In 1998, Rochon had the leading role alongside Halle Berry and Vivica A. Fox in the romantic drama Why Do Fools Fall in Love, and well starred in Knock Off with Jean-Claude Van Damme, and The Big Hit, as love interest to Mark Wahlberg's leading character. In 1999, she appeared in Any Given Sunday directed by Oliver Stone. In 2001, Rochon made her return to television with one of leading roles alongside Bonnie Bedelia, Nancy McKeon, Tracey Needham, and Lisa Vidal in the Lifetime crime drama series, The Division. She left the series after single season.
In 2004, Rochon co-starred opposite Katie Holmes in the romantic comedy film First Daughter. In 2009, she had cameo in crime drama Brooklyn's Finest directed by her husband, Antoine Fuqua. In 2013, she played one of leading roles in Regina King's directorial debut Let The Church Say Amen, the film adaptation of ReShonda Tate Billingsley's 2005 novel for BET. She later had roles in films Supremacy (2014) with Danny Glover and Derek Luke, and Reversion (2015), playing Aja Naomi King's character's mother.
Rochon was married to actor Shabba Doo from 1982 to 1987. In 1999, she married film director Antoine Fuqua. Together, they have two children, Asia and Brando.
|1984||Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo||Dancer|
|1985||A Bunny's Tale||Charlotte||Television film|
|1986||Stewardess School||School Instructor|
|1987||The Wild Pair||Debby|
|1987||Into the Homeland||Exquisite Woman|
|1991||Extralarge: Black and White||Wendy|
|1993||The Meteor Man||Vanessa|
|1995||Waiting to Exhale||Robin Stokes||Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
|1996||Mr. and Mrs. Loving||Mildred Loving||Television film
Nominated — CableACE Award for Outstanding Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
|1996||The Chamber||Nora Stark|
|1997||Gang Related||Cynthia Webb|
|1997||Legal Deceit||Sydney Banks|
|1998||Ruby Bridges||Lucielle 'Lucy' Bridges||Television film|
|1998||The Big Hit||Chantel|
|1998||Knock Off||Karen Lee|
|1998||Why Do Fools Fall in Love||Emira Eagle|
|1999||Any Given Sunday||Vanessa Struthers|
|1999||The Charlotte Austin Story||Charlotte Austin||Also executive producer|
|2000||Labor Pains||Lulu Brown|
|2004||First Daughter||Liz Pappas|
|2006||Running Out of Time in Hollywood|
|2009||Balancing the Books||Sharlene||Also executive producer|
|2010||Blood Done Sign My Name||Roseanna Allen|
|2013||Let the Church Say Amen||Loretta Jackson||Television film|
|1987||The Facts of Life||Diana||Episode: "The Greek Connection"|
|1987||The Cosby Show||Veronica||Episode: "The Shower"|
|1988||Amen||Young Bride||Episode: "Wedding Bell Blues"|
|1990||21 Jump Street||Denise Price||Episode: "Change of Heart"|
|1990||227||Leslie||Episode: "Gone Fishing"|
|1990||1st & Ten||Joy Brock||Episode: "Don't Powerburst My Bubble"|
|1991||Generations||Brandy Alexander||Recurring role|
|1991||The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air||Cindy||Episode: "Will Gets a Job"|
|1992||Homefront||Mary Louise||Episode: "At Your Age"|
|1992||Roc||Carol||Episode: "Roc Throws Joey Out"|
|1992||Tales from the Crypt||Mercedes||Episode: "Werewolf Concerto"|
|1993||Out All Night||Victoria||Episode: "Mall in the Family"|
|1993||The Sinbad Show||Denise||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1994||Hangin' with Mr. Cooper||Denise||Episode: "The Courtship of Mark Cooper"|
|1995||The Wayans Bros.||Lisa||Series regular, 13 episodes|
|1997||The Outer Limits||Beth Carter||Episode: "The Awakening"|
|2001||The Division||Inspector Angela Reide||Series regular, 22 episodes|
|2011||Reed Between the Lines||Sherri||Episode: "Let's Talk About Affairs"|
Lela Rochon supports the following charitable cause: Parkinsons.