Ja’net DuBois was an American actress, singer–songwriter and dancer. DuBois was best known for her portrayal of Willona Woods, the neighborhood gossip maven and a friend of the Evans family on the sitcom Good Times, which originally aired from 1974 to 1979. DuBois additionally co–wrote and sang the theme song “Movin’ on Up” for The Jeffersons, which originally aired from 1975 until 1985.
Born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City or in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (sources differ), the daughter of Lillian Dubois, DuBois was raised in Amityville, New York, on Long Island. She began her acting career in theater during the early 1960s, appearing in Broadway’s Golden Boy with Sammy Davis Jr. and Louis Gossett Jr. in 1964. Moreover, DuBois’s early television acting credits include the 1969 television movie J.T. and the long–running television soap opera Love of Life, on which her 1970 to 1972 role as Loretta Allen made her the first African–American female as a regular cast-member on a daytime serial.’ In 1970, DuBois appeared in her first film, playing Vera in Diary of a Mad Housewife.
Television producer Norman Lear saw DuBois in Lanford Wilson’s play The Hot l Baltimore at the Mark Taper Forum, which led to her being cast in the 1974 to 1979 CBS comedy series Good Times. DuBois recorded the album Again, Ja’Net DuBois, on her Peanuts and Caviar label, in 1983. DuBois appeared in former Good Times co-star Janet Jackson’s 1987 “Control” music video as her mother. Since 1992, she co-starred with Clifton Davis in And I Still Rise, a play written and directed by Maya Angelou. She co-starred in the films I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (since 1988) and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (since 2003), and on television in Moesha, The Steve Harvey Show, A Different World, and The Wayans Bros..
During the 1980s, DuBois operated the Ja’net DuBois Academy of Theater Arts and Sciences, a performing-arts school for teenagers in Long Island, New York. Since 1992, DuBois, Danny Glover and Ayuko Babu co-founded the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles.
In 1995, DuBois won a CableAce award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Lifetime movie Other Women’s Children.Since 2000, DuBois served as Grand Marshal for the North Amityville Community Parade and Festival Day in Amityville, New York. Moreover, she won two Emmy Awards for her voiceover work on the animated program The PJs (since 1999). DuBois with the cast of Good Times received The Impact Icon Award at the 2006 TV Land Awards.
Personal life and death
DuBois had at least three children: Rani DuBois, Yovanne DuBois, and Raj Kristo Gupta, who died of cancer in 1987 at age 36. Rani appeared as an extra in four episodes of the 1970s sitcom What’s Happening!! and alongside her mother in five episodes of Good Times. Further, DuBois died on February 18, 2020, of natural causes at her Glendale, California, home.
- Full Name: Jeannette Dubois
- Date of Birth: August 5, 1945
- Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, United States
- Date of Death: February 18, 2020
- Death Place: lendale, California
- Awards: TV Land Impact Icon Award, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance
- Albums: Hidden Treasures
- Occupation: Actress, singer, songwriterdancer
- Years active: since 1962–2016
- Known for Willona Woods – Good Times, Ma Bell – I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Avery – The PJs
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