Rutina Wesley Biography

Theater Actress, Film Actress, Television Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress, Actress (1979–)
Actress Rutina Wesley came to fame playing the role of Tara Thornton on the HBO vampire series True Blood.


Actress Rutina Wesley was born on February 1, 1979, in Las Vegas, Nevada. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Evansville, she attended The Juilliard School, graduating in 2005. Wesley's big break came in 2007, when she won the part of Tara Thornton on the HBO series True Blood. In 2008, she made her film debut in How She Move.

Early Years

Rutina Wesley was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 1, 1979. She is the daughter of showgirl Cassandra Wesley and professional tap dancer Ivery Wheeler, who appeared in several films, including The Cotton Club (1984), and over the years worked with a number of legends, including Gregory Hines.

Following in the footsteps of her parents, Wesley became interested in performance at an early age. She loved to twirl her baton in local parades and took dance lessons at the West Las Vegas Arts Center. But it wasn't until she appeared in a production of Fame during her freshman year of high school at the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts that she decided she wanted to pursue a career in acting. At the school she ended up starring in a number of productions, as well as studying theater and dance.

"I was born to be on stage," Wesley has said. "I loved storytelling. I was always making up stuff. I feel like that was my path."

Following her graduation in 1997, Wesley enrolled at Indiana's University of Evansville, where she obtained her B.F.A. in Theatre Performance in 2001. She then auditioned for the Juilliard School's Drama Division, where she was accepted in 2001. While there, she performed in classical theater productions such as Macbeth and The Marriage of Figaro. After honing her chops there, Wesley spent a summer studying Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she landed one of the title roles in a production of Romeo and Juliet.

Commercial Success

While success didn't come overnight, Wesley did not have to wait long for it. Not long after she graduated from Juilliard, Oscar-winning film director Sam Mendes spotted her and cast her to play opposite Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy in the 2006 Broadway production of David Hare's The Vertical Hour.

In 2008, Wesley made her film debut as the lead in How She Move, which received critical acclaim. She got her big break, however, in 2007 as Tara Thornton in the HBO series True Blood, her debut television performance. Over the course of its run, the show has earned a number of accolades and garnered Wesley and her co-stars a Screen Actors Guild award nomination for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series.

Wesley has said she would like to continue pursuing a film career in the coming years. "I would love to do some [romantic comedies], some action flicks," she said in a 2010 interview.

Wesley is married to actor Jacob Fishel and currently splits her time between Los Angeles and New York.

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