State of Affairs

President Constance Payton

Played by Alfre Woodard

Actor Bio

Alfre Woodard plays President Constance Payton on the NBC drama "State of Affairs."

Woodard's illustrious work as an actor has earned her an Oscar nomination, four Emmy Awards, 17 Emmy nominations, three Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe.

Woodard's four Emmys were won for her work on "Hill Street Blues" (Supporting Actress in a Drama Series), "L.A. Law" (Guest Performer in a Drama Series), "Miss Evers' Boys" (Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special), and "The Practice" (Guest Actress on a Drama Series). Woodward also won a SAG Award and Golden Globe Award for "Miss Evers' Boys." Her most recent Emmy nominations were for supporting actress in "Steel Magnolias" and guest actress on "True Blood."

On the film side, Woodard's impressive body of work includes her Oscar-nominated performance in Martin Ritt's "Cross Creek," Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon," John Sayles' "Passion Fish," Spike Lee's "Crooklyn," Gina Prince-Bythewood's "Love and Basketball," Tyler Perry's "The Family That Preys," Maya Angelou's "Down in the Delta," and Steve McQueen's Oscar-winning "12 Years a Slave," in the role of Mistress Harriet Shaw. Woodard just finished filming "Mississippi Grind," "Annabelle," and TNT's "The Last Ship," which premiered in June.

In addition to her acting career, Woodard is a longtime activist. She co-founded Artists for a New South Africa, a nonprofit working to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and further the cause of democracy and human rights in South Africa. In 2009, President Obama appointed her to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. As part of her work on the committee, Woodard has adopted several high-poverty and under-performing public schools around the country, including ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy in New Orleans and Noel Community Arts School in Denver.

She is an active advocate for the arts in education, largely through her work on the committee's Turnaround Arts initiative, which was launched in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council to narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts.

She directed and produced "Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales," which won the 2010 Audiobook of the Year and garnered a 2010 Grammy Award nomination for best children's spoken word album. The audiobook hosts a collaboration of talent, including Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman and Samuel L. Jackson.  

Woodard also currently serves on the National Film Preservation Board and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences International Outreach Committee.

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