Honorees

July, 2003

Brenda Pressley

Entertainer

Brenda Pressley, a native of Columbia, South Carolina, has performed in virtually every facet of the entertainment industry. The daughter of Arzelle C. Pressley and the late Bowen W. Pressley, she has credited her success to the unwavering support and guidance of her family, friends, and teachers. Thanks to this support system Brenda has never lost sight of her dreams.

An Eau Claire High School graduate, she became interested in a theatrical career while attending the University of South Carolina. Brenda participated in the university’s production of Purlie, Sweet Charity, and Hair. Her summers were spent working in professional dinner theater and summer stock.

In 1979, Brenda moved to New York City, where she was cast in And Still I Rise, written and directed by Maya Angelou. By 1988, she was a recipient of the George London Grant which is awarded to accomplished performing artists.

Pressley has appeared on Broadway in the original company of Dreamgirls, directed by the theatrical legend Michael Bennett. She was also cast in the long running blockbuster Cats and The Moony Shapiro Songbook. Off-Broadway credits include productions of Marvin’s Room, Blues In The Night, and And The World Goes ‘Round - The Songs of Kander and Ebb for which she received a 1991 Outer Critics Circle Award. For the latter production, Brenda can be heard on the RCA Victor original cast recording.

In regional theaters, she starred in the world premiere of The Old Settler at the McCarter Theater and again at the Freedom Theater where her performance garnered the 2000 Barymore Award for Best Actress. Additional productions for Pressley include roles in Jar The Floor at Syracuse Stage, Blues For An Alabama Sky at The Old Globe Theater and Cincinnati Playhouse.

On television, Brenda co-starred with Oprah Winfrey in the ABC series Brewster Place. Other credits include parts in Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Headlines, New York Undercover, Educating Matt Waters, HBO Life Stories, Daddy’s Girl, Here and Now, Ghostwriter, All My Children, Loving, and One Life To Live. She has been featured in national and regional commercials.

Film credits, for Pressley, include scenes in Cradle Will Rock, written and directed by Tim Robbins; Twisted; and It Could Happen To You.