Lorraine Toussaint was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago on April 4, 1960, to educator Janet Beane. There is no information about her father. Toussaint, on the other hand, was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts in 1978.
She then attended New York’s Juilliard School, majoring in theater, and graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1982 with a concentration in classical acting. Toussaint began rehearsing for her first professional job with Shakespeare & Company in the city where she played Lady Macbeth in Macbeth on the day she graduated from Juilliard.
Toussaint made her television debut as Stendah in Donald Wrye’s The Face of Rage in 1983. Toussaint appeared in the television film A Case of Deadly Force in 1986, as well as the ABC television soap opera One Life to Live. She then went on to star in the television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1995.
She starred in the Lifetime television drama series Any Day Now from 1998 to 2002, where she won the National Bar Association’s “Wiley A. Branton Award” for her portrayal of Rene Jackson, the series’ protagonist who represents the parents of AIDS victims.In 2005, Toussaint appeared in the Television Movie, Their Eyes re Watching God, based on the work of Zora Neal Hurston where she was cast as Pearl Stone.
Toussaint rose to prominence in 2014 as Vee in the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” (Season 2 Episode 12). The following year, in 2015, she received the Essence Magazine Vanguard Award for her portrayal of Vee in Orange Is the New Black. For that role, she also received a Critics’ Choice Television Award for “Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.” Later that year, she received the Black Film Critics Circle’s “Visionary Award” for “Best Ensemble” in Selma, as well as the Black Reel Award for “Best Ensemble” in that film.
Toussaint married American-born actor Robert Michael Tomlinson for a short time on June 25, 2017. Samara Zane Tomlinson is their daughter.
Toussaint played “Auntie Viola ‘Vi’ Marsette” in the 2021 film The Equalizer, starring Queen Latifah. She has also narrated and performed in many theatrical works, including “Emily Ghost” in the animated television series Summer Camp Island, Masago in Star Wars: Visions, and the mother in Cinema Toast.