Long before there was Olivia Pope or Annalise Keating, there was DiDi Bannister on the ABC soap opera Edge Of Night (1981-84). As played by Mariann Aalda, the smart and spirited young attorney became a prototype for the professional African-American female characters that began to proliferate on network TV, earning her accolades and numerous awards from the African-American community. After graduating from Southern Illinois University and the Negro Ensemble Company conservatory training program where Laurence Fishburne and Robert Townsend were classmates, Aalda joined NYC's Off-Center Theatre Company as a sketch comedy writer and performer and toured the country with The Proposition improv troupe with Charlie Adler...before joining Edge Of Night as one of the first African-American daytime contract players and soap opera heroines. When the NY-based show went off the air, she moved to LA where she was quickly cast on the HBO dramedy, First & 10, in the recurring role of Ellen Parker, the long-suffering coach's wife, opposite OJ Simpson. From there, her sitcom career took off in numerous recurring and guest-starring roles, including the memorable turn opposite Meshach Taylor on Designing Women as his yuppie-from-hell girlfriend, Lita Ford. She was also a series regular on the CBS sitcom, The Royal Family, as Elizabeth Royal-Winston, the daughter of Redd Foxx and Della Reese. She later returned to daytime in the recurring role of the "tragically disfigured" Lena Hart, Sherrie Saum's mom on the NBC soap opera Sunset Beach. More recently, she has appeared on the NBC hit, The Blacklist and starred in the short film Gumbo on AMC's ALLBLK-TV. She returned to her comedy roots as co-producer and star in the 25-episode web series, Talk To Me, Ginger!, based on her performance art character, Adult Sex-Ed Evangelist & Mojo Motivator, Dr. Ginger, who is also the protagonist of her solo show, Gettin' Old Is a Bitch...But I'm Gonna Wrestle That Bitch to the Ground!, which has sold out shows in New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and broke a 30-year box office record at the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC. In 2021, she was invited to perform an excerpt at the Silver Sirens Redefining Aging Summit in Sydney, Australia.. Heralded as an influencer in the positive aging movement for changing the narrative on older women, she was recognized by AARP' in a video tribute as an Age Disruptor; is a prolific podcast guest on shameless aging; is a sought-after pro-age moderator on the popular audio app, Clubhouse, and has a TEDx Talk, Ageism Is a Bully...Stand Up to It!
- Duncan's Mom
- Elizabeth Royal Winston
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