By Dale Ricardo Shields
Ms. Godfrey received a Drama Desk Nomination for her Broadway debut in the Musical Revue EUBIE!. She received the Dramalogue and NAACP Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress for her portrayal in NO PLACE TO BE SOMEBODY. She received the AUDELCO Award for Outstanding Performance for her work in Shuffle Along. For Directing Ms. Godfrey received the Tyrone Guthrie Award. She has received the NAACP Award for Best Producer also the Audio Earphone Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award for her recording of the title role “Snow Queen ” among others.
Born and raised in Harlem, the child of a caterer and a carpet cleaner Godfrey attended a private elementary and middle school (the Modern School) and New York City’s George Washington High School where she was elected the first female Student Body President. Her voice training began at middle school age with the great voice teacher Dr. Chauncey Northern Sr. of Carnegie Hall and lasted until Dr. Northern’s death in September 1992 at the age of ninety. After graduation, Ms. Godfrey attended Hampton University. As a freshman, her speech teacher, the theatrical impresario Marjorie Moon suggested she audition for a production. “The Theatre bug got me the very instant I started to audition.” She promptly transferred to Hunter College back in New York City (to be closer to the theatre) where, as the fates would have it, theatre legend Lloyd Richards was teaching a Black Theatre History course. She enrolled in that course and went on to study acting and directing with the theatre legend and giant.
A member of Negro Actors Guild of America (NAG), Godfrey also appeared in film and television, including 704 Hauser, a Norman Lear sitcom, created as an African American spinoff to All in the Family.
Godfrey has also originated several theatre roles, including The Snow Queen, which she continues to perform today. One of the first women of color to be cast in famous musical roles, these include Lola in Damn Yankees and Jenny Diver in Three Penny Opera.
In 2002, Godfrey founded Godlee Entertainment, a production company committed to nurturing emerging playwrights and producing new work. As Producing Artistic Director, she also oversees “The Essence of Acting,” a New York City-based acting group, created to encourage aspiring African American actors. Most recently, she has been directing, producing and performing in a new play, “Greenwood: An American Dream Destroyed,” by Celeste Bedford Walker. The play chronicles the rise and fall of Greenwood, a Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Known in the 1920s as “Negro Wall Street,” Greenwood was a prosperous community, destroyed over two days in 1921, when a white mob burned it to the ground. Godfrey has produced the play at the New York Theatre Workshop, University of Delaware, Theatre Institute at Sage in Troy, NY and ArtsQuest, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.