Dawnn Lewis (formerly Newman)[1] (born August 13, 1961)[1] played the part of Jaleesa Vinson in Seasons 1 through 5 of A Different World, appearing in 109 of the 151 episodes of the series. A Grammy award-winning actress, writer, songwriter, singer, Dawnn is currently a voice actress for The Regular Show.[2][3]

Early lifeEdit

Dawnn was born in Brooklyn, New York to her parents, Carl and Joyce Lewis, who are of Guyanese descent.[2][4] She began singing at the age of 4 and acting at 11.[5] She graduated from New York's High School of Music and Art at 16.[6] She then applied and was accepted by several colleges, one of which being Brooklyn College, before deciding on attending the University of Miami, where she graduated in 1982, cum laude, with a major in Musical Theatre and a minor in Journalism.[3][6] She also won first place in an Apollo Theatre talent competition.[7]


She began her professional career by singing jingles in commercials, and singing professionally for nightclubs while also serving as a background vocalist for numerous groups.[6][7] She has acted in such series as Jalessa Vinson in A Different World, Robin Dumars in the first season of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper and LaBarbara Conrad on Futurama, being the composer for the former.[2][8]

Dawnn has also ventured into voiceovers, providing the voices of such characters as Detective Terri Lee in Spider-Man, Grandma in C-Bear and Jamal, The Hybrid in The Incredible Hulk, Sheeva in Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Brickhouse in Static Shock, Bessie in Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure and a delivery woman in Toy Story of Terror.[9] Her voice acting agency is Danis, Panaro & Nist.[10] She has also acted on stage for the plays Money Notes and Shades of Harlem.[7] She also released a music CD, focusing on jazz and R&B, entitled Worth Waiting For, and helped write the film Black Jaq.[3][11]

She has won several awards in her career, winning a "Best Actress" Image Award for her role in The Marriage, winning a Fred Award for "Best Actress", nominated for a Suzi Award from Alliance Theatre for her role in Sister Act in 2007 and earned the 2008 Integrity Award from the Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Outside of acting she also owns her own production company, Morning Jewel, Inc., since 1984.[3] Lewis also supports such organizations as the American Cancer Society and The March of Dimes and volunteers to do community work.[3][6] She was married to Johnny Newman, an NBA basketball player, in 2004 before divorcing in 2006.[1]

In her free time she enjoys doing the following hobbies: horseback riding, swimming, designing clothes and writing music, poetry and screenplays.[7] She resides in Los Angeles, California.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Dawnn Lewis biography.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dawnn Lewis Biography.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5
  4. Dawnn Lewis bio. Guyanese Girls
  5. Mandulo, Rhea. "Dawnn Lewis Teaches Kids to Pursue Education", Schenedtady (NY) Gazette, via GoogleNews, January 27, 1989. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Buck, Jerry. "New Yorker Dawnn Lewis finds "A Different World" in Los Angeles", Toledo (OH) Blade, June 17, 1990. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 News Staff. "Talented Lewis in A Different World", New Straits (Malaysia) Times, February 24, 1990. 
  8. Biograhy. (Official Website).
  10. Dawnn Lewis bio sketch.

External linksEdit