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Laverne Scott Caldwell (born 17 April, 1950) is an Americanmarker Tony Award-winning actress known for her role as Rose on Lost.

Caldwell, who earned a degree in Theater Arts and Communications from Loyola University Chicagomarker, has an extensive background in feature films, television and theater. Her film credits include Mystery Alaska, Waiting to Exhale, The Net, The Fugitive, Dutch and Without a Trace. Caldwell had recurring roles on Judging Amy, and has guest-starred in JAG, Chicago Hope, City of Angels and Promised Land, all on CBS. Her additional television credits include The Practice, The Division, Any Day Now, Murder One, The Pretender, Grace Under Fire, Melrose Place, Lois and Clark, ER, Nip/Tuck, L.A. Law, Ghost Whisperer, Cold Case, Saving Grace, State of Mind, and The Cosby Show.

On Broadwaymarker, Caldwell won a 1988 Tony Award for her role in Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Her other Broadway credits include Proposals, A Month of Sundays and Home. She has also appeared off Broadway in About Heaven & Earth, Colored People's Time, Old Phantoms, A Season to Unravel, and The Imprisonment of Obatala.

Her most recent appearances have been in the television series Southland and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and films Powder Blue, Like Dandelion Dust, and Gridiron Gang. Caldwell currently appears on Lost in a recurring capacity. According to the Season 2 DVD featurettes, her husband was going through health problems during the shooting of the first season. Her husband's story inspired her character's flashbacks in her focus episode, S.O.S..


Early life

Caldwell, the middle of five children, was born in Chicago, Illinoismarker to working class parents. Her mother was a maid and her father was a chauffeur. Her mother eventually became a nurse. She grew up in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. The neighborhood public school was crowded so the students attended in split shifts. When she was about eight years old Caldwell attended the morning session and her older siblings went to school in the afternoon. When the school released her at noon she was escorted to the Lex Theatre where she was minded by a friend of her mother. It was there that her love of film was spawned. At that early age she did not realize she wanted to be an actress. But she did know that she wanted to be like Bette Davis or Loretta Young.

While attending Hyde Park High School (1963-1967) Caldwell joined the drama club. Her class went to see a performance of A Day of Absence. The play featured Douglas Turner Ward, one of the founders of The Negro Ensemble Company. It was the first time she saw professional Black actors on stage.

After graduating from high school in 1967, Caldwell enrolled at Northwestern University. Although she held a number of part-time jobs she could not afford the tuition and left after one year. She went to work full-time as an operator at Illinois Bell. Caldwell married a young lawyer, John Caldwell, and had a son, Ominara. She transferred her credits to Loyola University-Chicago and earned a bachelor's degree in Theater Arts and Communications.


Caldwell planned on a teaching career and taught at Chicago High School of the Performing Arts. She did not enjoy that profession so she worked a year for the Chicago Council on Fine Arts as an artist-in-residence. She also performed in local theatrical productions at the Body Politic, Court Theater, and Eleventh Street Theater.

She went to New York in 1978 to audition for Uta Hagen's school HB Studio. While waiting to audition she saw an ad for The Negro Ensemble Company. After her audition at Hagen's school she took the subway to the NEC. Caldwell was initially rebuffed by the person who interviewed her but she insisted on meeting with Mr. Ward. She used the three pieces she performed at her audition for Hagen. She was accepted by Hagen and Ward.

During her first season at NEC Caldwell performed in several plays. One of those plays, Home , by Samm Art Williams took her to the Cort Theatre on Broadway in 1980. The play was critically acclaimed and earned a Tony Award nomination for Charles Brown. After Home closed Caldwell worked in several regional theater productions including Boesman and Lena at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, and A Raisin In The Sun at Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, New York. She also had small roles in film (Without A Trace), and daytime television (All My Children).

In December 1984 while working in Play of Giants Caldwell was struck by a car while hailing a cab on Columbus Avenue in New York. She suffered a severe back injury and was unable to work for nearly two years. Her first audition after her recovery was for the August Wilson play Joe Turner's Come and Gone. She did not get the role she wanted. But the role of Bertha Holly was a history maker. Caldwell's performance earned her a 1988 Tony Award. She thanked her mother, siblings, and son during her acceptance speech.

Caldwell moved to southern California to work in television and film. She is extremely busy, working in several cities in the US and South Africa, and continues to work in theater. She returned to Broadway in 1997 as the lead in Neil Simon's Proposals. The play was not very well accepted by audiences but Caldwell's performance was critically acclaimed. After Proposals closed Caldwell performed the role of Leah, Little Augie's sister, in the New York City Center's Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert production of St. Louis Woman.

Caldwell is an active member of Unite For Strength, the SAG opposition group. She and thirty other members of Unite For Strength are campaigning for a seats on the SAG board of directors. On September 19, 2008 she won a seat as an alternate on the national board of directors and Hollywood division board of directors. She will serve a one-year term. She served on the seniors, legislative, and EEOC committees. Caldwell was elected to a second one-year term September 24, 2009.

Personal life

In her early twenties Laverne Scott married John Caldwell. They are the parents of Ominara Caldwell, who lives in Chicago. Ominara was born in 1973 just a few days after Laverne's 23rd birthday. The Caldwells divorced in the early 1980s. She was married again in 2004 to artist/photographer/director Dasal Banks. Banks suffered from cancer and died in 2005.

Caldwell gives lectures and appears on panels concerning African American actors. In 2007 she participated in tributes to August Wilson at Goodman Theatre in conjunction with Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago, and at St. Louis Black Repertory Company. In June 2008 she participated in the NAACP Theatre Awards Festival Actors on Acting panel.




  • Reverse Transcription Staged reading (2009) Ottoline
  • The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove (2006) Sarah Breedlove (Madam C.J. Walker)
  • Going To St. Ives (2000, 2003 (radio broadcast and recording), 2005) May N'Kame
  • Intimate Apparel Staged reading (2002)
  • Sorrows and Rejoicings (2001) Marta Barends
  • Landlocked (1998) Reporter/Camilla
  • St. Louis Woman (1998) Leah
  • Proposals (1997) Clemma Diggins
  • Macbeth (1997) Lady Macbeth
  • American Medea (1995) Medea
  • The Piano Lesson (1991) Berniece
  • From The Mississippi Delta (1990) Miss Rosebud/Bro. Pastor
  • Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1987-1988) Bertha Holly
  • A Month Of Sundays (1987) understudy Mrs. Baker
  • Elegies For The Fallen Staged reading (1986)
  • A Play Of Giants (1984) Ambassador
  • About Heaven & Earth (1983) Black Woman (The Redeemer)/Raimy (Nightline)
  • A Raisin In The Sun (1982)
  • Colored Peoples Time (1982) Cahterine/Addie/Nadine/Ida
  • Boesman and Lena (1982) Lena
  • Home (1980-1981). Pattie Mae Wells / Woman One. Broadway debut.
  • A Season To Unravel (1979) Afrodite
  • Plays From Africa (1979)
  • Old Phantoms (1979) Ruth
  • Daughters Of The Mock (1978) Gail
  • The Other Cinderella (1975) (Chicago - Club Misty)
  • No Place To Be Somebody (1974) Cora Beasley (Loyola University student production)



  • McDonald's (1993)
  • The United Negro College Fund

Awards and nominations

  • 2006 BTAA Award for Best leading actress in a play – The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove
  • 2005 Obie Award for Performance in a play – Going To St. Ives
  • 1998 Helen Hayes Award for Supporting actress in a non-resident production – Proposals
  • 1997 Drama-Logue Award for Performance in a play – Proposals
  • 1990 Drama-Logue Award for Ensemble performance – From The Mississippi Delta
  • 1988 Tony Award for Featured actress in a play – Joe Turner's Come & Gone

  • 2007 Gemini Award for Best actress in a guest performance – Jozi-H
  • 2005 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding actress in a play – Going To St. Ives
  • 1998 FANY (FAns of NY Theatre) Award for Outstanding actress in a play – Proposals


"I didn't say to myself 'I want to be an actress' or anything like that. But I loved film, and I loved what they (Bette Davis & Loretta Young) did." St. Louis Post-Dispatch July 1, 1988

"The first play my mother ever saw I was in." Chicago Tribune November 30, 1997

"I didn't have dance lessons or anything when I was growing up.... I didn't have background in the arts at all. I used to like to pretend when I was a kid, so I would hide in the closet and make up stories and pretend to be other people." Chicago Tribune November 30, 1997

"When you stop acting is when you feel it. On your day off, everything shuts down and you have to start all over again at the next performance.... There is nothing else quite like the high of live theater." The Plain Dealer December 14, 1997

Further reading

  • Chicago Defender "Loyola Opens Season With Versatile Seasoned Cast", October 5, 1974 p. A5
  • Kuchwara, Michael St. Louis Post-Dispatch Everyday Magazine "Tony Winner Knew It In Her Heart", July 1, 1988 p. 8F
  • Weiss, Hedy Chicago Sun-Times, July 14, 1988 p. 39
  • Mitchell, Ophelia DeVore The Columbus Times "Tony Award Winning Actress Puts Her Philosophy of Enriching Others' Lives To Practice" vol. XXVII issue 35, August 28, 1988 p.A1
  • Jackson, Caroline Black Masks "L. Scott Caldwell: Laughter in One Hand; The Tony in the Other" vol. 4 issue 9, August 31, 1988 p. 4
  • Kilian, Michael Chicago Tribune, "Serious Simon - Play Has Its Critics, But Its Leading Actresses Find Acclaim" November 30, 1997 Arts & Entertainment p. 10
  • Kuchwara, Michael The Plain Dealer "Sweet Role Entices Actress to Simon Play: Maid A Major Role in Proposals", December 14, 1997 Arts section p. 101

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