Marla Gibbs is a trailblazer. She’s set the stage and the tone not only for Black Actress who came behind her, but for people from all walks of life who’ve ever aspired to live life on their own terms. She pursued her passion building up the necessary skills that were required, and excelled. Her natural talent and magic is of course a major help.
The Legendary 5 Time Emmy Nominated Actress, Singer, Artist, Comedienne and Entrepreneur finally received her star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame at 90 years old. The honor is long overdue and the recognition is well deserved. While some people are catching on late. Gibbs is showing no signs of slowing down. She’s a true renaissance woman. She consistently uses her many talents for good. Here are just a few she’s shared throughout her career:
Creative Writing Talent and Insight
The hit show ‘227’ was adapted from a play of the same name. Gibbs starred in the play after ‘The Jeffersons’ came to an end. In the process of adapting 227 into a series she had a lot of creative control of the process and execution. From the casting to writing the story lines. Gibbs served as an uncredited Executive Producer of the show. A lot of the genius episode themes that viewers saw came from her own vision and storytelling.
Not only has Gibbs been wise with creative control. The business side of her career was managed with excellence. She attended Business School prior to taking her shot at acting.
Being in the entertainment industry, her contracts included clauses that had her best interest in mind. Prior to her starring in ‘227’, she was given a spin-off of the famous ‘Jeffersons’ character Florence Johnston. Gibbs had in her contract that if the spinoff didn’t work out then her original position on the Jeffersons would be secured. The spinoff did fail due to a writer’s strike during that time, but Gibbs was covered.
In addition to her Acting career she owned a Jazz Club “Marla’s Memory Lane Jazz and Supper Club” in L.A. for nearly 20 years, from 1981-1999. She acted, sang, all while sustaining a lucrative business. Her enterprising nature was likely passed down from her parents who were both entrepreneurs.
In addition to being a Jazz Club Owner, Gibbs is a Jazz Singer. Viewers of the show ‘227’ have heard some of her singing chops, but as a Singer she’s released a number of albums. One of the latest was as recent as 2014 titled “It’s Never Too Late.”
Before getting character roles in the industry, one of Gibbs first breaks was as a Background Actor in a film with famous comedic actress Lucille Ball. It served to be a foreshadowing of what was to come with her own talent and comedic genius. Although Gibbs is notorious for her sitcom and comedy work her personal favorite genre is drama.
No Nonsense Nature
While Gibbs may love the drama of acting she clearly does not take any mess from anyone, as we’ve seen in her roles. We know and love her because she takes sassy to a whole different level. She was born on the southside of Chicago affectionately known by Spike Lee as “Chi-Raq”, She spent much of her adult life between Detroit and L.A.’s Watts District. Gibbs is clearly an O.G. While she may have grown up in “the hood” she’s notably taken a mentality of excellence with her through her journey. Even with her currently being 90 years old it would be unwise for anyone to talk to her sideways.
Marla Gibbs is a multifaceted and multi talented genius in her work. We salute her for how she continues to blaze the path for so many. People may want to honor her the way they do Betty White, but Marla Gibbs is in a class of her own. There is no comparison.