Tyra Ferrell: Not Your Typical Hollywood Actress
The name Tyra Ferrell may not ring a bell, but as soon as you see her many immediately recognize her work. She’s played very memorable roles of Black women in some of the cult classics of cinema. She played the angry mother of Ice Cube in John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood. In White Men Can’t Jump she was the loving spouse of Wesley Snipes. And in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever,” she played the sensitive yuppie who reaches out to John Turturro’s shy candy-store owner.
On television, the beautiful actress guest-starred in Hill Street Blues, The Twilight Zone, and Quantum Leap. In 2000, Ferrell co-starred alongside Khandi Alexander in the critically acclaimed HBO miniseries The Corner. She later guest-starred on Soul Food, The Shield and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2004, she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for her role in the ABC television film NTSB: The Crash of Flight 323. Ferrell was also cast in a recurring role in the second season of Fox’s hit drama series Empire. Ferrell plays a lawyer who comes in contact with the Lyon family.
Texas-born Ferrell likes the idea of being called upon to look and act differently for every role she plays. “I’m not your typical Hollywood actress who wants to be recognized and sign autographs,” she says. “I’m a character actress. The fun of acting, for me, is creating a lot of different images, being a lot of different people, rather than just a personality. I have so many emotions going on inside me, it would be tough to be the same person every time. I usually say, `I’m Everywoman.’ I can play any role. I can play you or your mama or your sister or your brother. That’s what acting is about.”
“As an actor, I oftentimes feel as though people don’t remember what you say, people remember how you make them feel. I was at this one screening at the Baldwin Hills Theater I came out and there was this young boy, and he was really young. Which surprised me because I couldn’t believe parents would let this young boy see [Boyz N’ the Hood].”
“And he was crying and I asked him why he was crying and he said, ‘I’m going to go home and tell my mother to stop calling me [email protected]#cker.’ And that hit me because it was so real.”
Ferrell now is much more than an actress. She is an activist for civil, human & social rights and often speaks out about police brutality.