By Dee Jae Cox
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” It is with such reverence that one can view the great success and depth of giving, that actress/director, Judith Chapman has committed to her long and memorable career.
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Chapman, is the daughter of an Air Force General who spent most of her childhood living outside of the U.S. She said, It all started when she was 14 years old and her Mother gave her permission to skip school in order to make a commercial while living in Madrid, Spain.
After getting her Theatre Degree at Stephens College, she moved to New York City at the age of 20. It was there that she joined the prestigious Actors’ Studio and eventually landed the role of Natalie Hughes, on the daytime drama “As the World Turns.” Chapman’s career took off like a rocket, as she went on to achieve immeasurable heights in the world of daytime drama, also appearing as Charlotte Greer on “Ryan’s Hope” and Ginny Blake Webber on “General Hospital.” After moving to Los Angeles she began to achieve new success in prime time television shows, such as Sandra Montaigne on “The Fall Guy,” “Magnum P.I.,” “Silk Stalking,” as well as the telefilms “Mortal Fear,” “Farrell for the People” and Five of ME.” She has appeared in over 22 feature films, including “28 Days,” “The Sweetest Thing,” “Night of the Running Man” and “Scorpio One.
In 2007, Chapman, was recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a Silver Circle Award, which honors members of the television community, who have contributed 25 years to the industry. Chapman, also founded “The Troubadours of Daytime,” a theatre company of Daytime Actors who utilize their time, talent and love of the theatre to perform and raise money for other organizations.
Her love of theatre has always been a driving force in her life. In addition to her acting, Chapman began directing and mounted “The Belle of Amherst,” William Luce’s one woman show based on the life of Emily Dickinson, which Chapman successfully toured through the United States. She also directed “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical,” “Equus” and “Born Yesterday.” In Austin Pendleton’s award-winning play, Orson’s Shadow, a study of theatrical egos, with each protagonist living more on the stage than in real life. Chapman portrayed the iconic Vivien Leigh, which also gave her one of her greatest triumphs when her show opened the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in New Orleans.
In the midst of her successful career, Chapman fell in love with the desert and bought a home in the Coachella Valley, bringing her skills to the desert stages. She has been seen at the Palm Canyon Theatre, in her knockout performance as Violet Weston, in Tracy Letts, “August Osage County.” And at the time of Desert Rose Playhouse’s production of Matthew Lombardo’s, “Looped,” featuring Judith Chapman as Tallulah Bankhead, I wrote in my review of the show, “Chapman, gives the performance of a lifetime in her presentation of this multi-faceted icon. Bankhead’s sarcastic and brilliant wit is presented with the perfect nuance of raw grittiness without ever going over the top into farce. Gobsmacked, is a British slang term that means utterly astonished and astounded. It is the perfect description of my response to Chapman’s portrayal of this iconic actress.” The role also won Chapman, best actress in a drama from the Desert Theatre League.
She has just announced that she will be undertaking the role of former First Lady, NANCY REAGAN in Will Smith’s new film ‘KING RICHARD’ about Venus & Serena Williams’ father and their rise to tennis fame!
Chapman’s time in self-imposed isolation has been filled with indulging in great films, documentaries and the History Channel. Watching, learning and studying the Masters, while sleeping, cooking and hiking in the desert. Judith Chapman, is truly one of the Desert’s most treasured talents.
Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project.