Kimberly Elise Trammel (born April 17, 1967), professionally known as Kimberly Elise, is an American film and television actress. She made her feature film debut in Set It Off (1996), and later received critical acclaim for her performance in Beloved (1998).
During her career, Elise has appeared in films such as John Q. (2001), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005), The Great Debaters (2007), For Colored Girls (2010), Dope (2015) and Almost Christmas (2016). She received a nomination for Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her performance in the 2004 drama film, Woman Thou Art Loosed, and played the leading roles in a number of made for television movies. Elise also starred in the CBS crime drama series, Close to Home (2005–07), and in 2013 began starring in the VH1 comedy-drama series, Hit the Floor.
Elise was born as Kimberly Elise Trammel in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Erma Jean (née Johnson), an elementary school teacher, and Marvin Trammel, who owns an executive search firm. She has three siblings. She attended The American Film Institute as a Directing Fellow and at the University of Minnesota earned a BA in Mass Communications.
Elise's first film was Set It Off (1996), in which she played one of four women who resort to robbing a bank for money. Her big break came in 1997 when she was cast in the Family Channel original television movie The Ditchdigger's Daughters, based on the Pulitzer-prize nominated and critically acclaimed 1995 memoir The Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story, written by Yvonne S. Thornton and Jo Coudert. She received critical acclaim for her role in this film, and in 1997, she was recognized as Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries at the 19th annual CableACE Awards. A relative unknown at the time, she conveyed her anonymity upon receiving the award by saying: "Who is Kimberly Elise?" Her performance helped her land a role the next year in Beloved alongside Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. She is often compared to a young Cicely Tyson, whom she resembles.
She made guest appearances on the situation comedy Girlfriends in 2003, in which she played an HIV-positive woman.
In 2004, she appeared in Woman Thou Art Loosed portraying Michelle, an abused young woman who finally got the help she needed behind bars. This role won her a Black Reel award for Best Actress. She also appeared in John Q, The Manchurian Candidate and Diary of a Mad Black Woman (she won a NAACP Image Award for the latter). From 2005 to 2007, she was part of the main cast of the CBS crime drama Close to Home, playing the Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis) prosecutor Maureen Scofield. Her character was killed off in the last episode of the series. The series was cancelled on May 2007.
In 2010 she was in Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls (2010), as the battered wife Crystal. While the film itself received mixed to negative reviews, her performance was praised by many critics. One journalist described her as "the great lost Best Supporting Actress contender of the 2010 season". Since 2013 Kimberly is part of the cast of VH1's new series Hit The Floor.
Elise was married to Maurice Oldham from 1989 to 2005. The couple had two daughters, Ajableu Arial Oldham (born March 16, 1990) and Butterfly Rose Oldham (born October 19, 1998). Maurice Oldham died from a "massive blood clot" in 2007.
Elise's maternal descent is of the Songhai people. Elise is vegan and has worked with PETA to promote the lifestyle.
Acapulco Black Film Festival1999: Nominated – Best Actress for Beloved (1998)
African-American Film Critics Association
2010: Won – Best Supporting Actress for For Colored Girls
Black Reel Awards2002: Won – Best Supporting Actress for Bojangles (2001)
2003: Nominated – Best Actress for John Q (2002)
2005: Nominated – Best Supporting Actress for The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
2005: Won – Best Actress, Independent Film for Woman Thou Art Loosed (2004)
2006: Won – Best Actress for Diary of a Mad Black Woman
2011: Nominated – Best Actress for For Colored Girls
2011: Won – Outstanding Ensemble for For Colored Girls
CableACE Award1997: Won – Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries for The Ditchdigger's Daughters (1997)
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards1999: Won – Most Promising Actress for Beloved (1998)
1999: Nominated – Best Supporting Actress for Beloved (1998)
Golden Satellite Awards1999: Won – Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Drama for Beloved (1998)
NAACP Image Awards1999: Nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Beloved (1998)
2002: Nominated – Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for Bojangles (2001)
2003: Nominated – Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for John Q (2002)
2003: Nominated – Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for "Soul Food" (2000)
2005: Nominated – Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for Woman Thou Art Loosed (2004)
2006: Winner – Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for Diary of a Mad Black Woman
2006: Nominated – Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for "Close to Home"
2007: Winner – Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for "Close to Home"
2010: Winner – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story"
2011: Winner – Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for "For Colored Girls"
Independent Spirit Awards2005: Nominated – Best Female Lead for Woman Thou Art Loosed (2004)