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Lisa Bonet: Talented Actress, Inspiring Icon

Full Name Lisa Michelle Bonet
Age 55
Birthday November 16, 1967
Birth Place San Francisco, California
Relationship Status Married to Jason Momoa
Height 5‘ 2" (1.57 m)
Net Worth $14 million
Social Media Twitter, Instagram

Lisa Bonet is an American actress best known for her iconic role as Denise Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. With her unique beauty, creative spirit, and brilliant acting talents, Bonet left an indelible mark on television audiences throughout the 1980s. Over her decades-long career, she has taken on a diverse range of roles that highlight her versatility as a performer. Let‘s take a closer look at the life and career of this fascinating actress.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Lisa Michelle Bonet was born on November 16, 1967 in San Francisco, California to an opera singer father and a teacher mother. As a child, Bonet expressed an early interest in performing and acting. She began doing TV commercials at age 5 and went on to attend the prestigious Celluloid Actor‘s Studio in North Hollywood where she flourished in acting classes.

At age 11, Bonet‘s family moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles to support her pursuit of an acting career full-time. She attended Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California where she was a popular cheerleader and starred in school plays. Classmates remember Lisa standing out as "uniquely beautiful, sweet, creative and generous."

Bonet began going on auditions for television shows and movies throughout her teenage years. In 1984 at age 16, she got the biggest break of her career so far – landing the part of Denise Huxtable on the new NBC sitcom The Cosby Show starring comedian Bill Cosby.

Rise to Fame on The Cosby Show

As Denise Huxtable, Bonet charmed audiences with her unique fashion sense, creative spirit, and wise-beyond-her-years maturity. Denise was known for her alternative style, philosophical nature, and penchant for hanging out with "weirdos." Though she occasionally butted heads with her protective father Cliff Huxtable (played by Bill Cosby), he ultimately supported her independent streak. Denise offered a refreshing alternative to the shallow teen characters seen on 80s sitcoms up until then.

Bonet‘s portrayal of Denise earned her widespread popularity and critical acclaim. She received two Emmy award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1987 and 1988, winning a Young Artist Award for Best Young Comedienne in a Television Series. Fans and critics alike praised her performance on the show, highlighting her comedic timing and ability to deliver Denise‘s weighty dialogue in a relatable, down-to-earth way. Beyond just entertaining audiences, Denise became an aspirational figure for young Black women of the 80s. She showed that a Black teen girl could be smart, quirky, creative, and self-defined on national TV. In later seasons, Denise‘s character grappled with more mature themes like prejudice and loss of virginity, cementing her place as an authentic, nuanced teen idol.

By the third season of The Cosby Show, the series had become the #1 rated show on television. For her work from 1985 to 1991, Bonet helped the groundbreaking sitcom dominate ratings and earn its status as one of the most successful sitcoms in television history.

Fun Facts About Lisa Bonet on The Cosby Show

  • Bonet was the youngest cast member – she was only 16 years old when she started on the show in 1984
  • She originally auditioned for the role of Rudy Huxtable but impressed producers so much they wrote the part of Denise for her instead
  • Her unique clothing and hairstyles as Denise influenced fashion trends of the 80s and 90s
  • Bonet improvised many of Denise‘s more comedic lines
  • She earned approximately $25,000 per episode by the end of the show‘s run

Marriage to Lenny Kravitz

In 1987 at age 19, Bonet eloped with rock musician Lenny Kravitz in a spur-of-the-moment Las Vegas wedding. Kravitz was just beginning his rise to fame as a musician at this time. After getting married, Bonet decided to leave her role on The Cosby Show after the 1987-1988 season ended to pursue other creative interests. She took part in filming the Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, which focused on Denise‘s experiences at college. However, Bonet left after the first season over creative differences with producers.

After giving birth to daughter Zoe Isabella in 1988, Bonet started taking on more mature, complex film roles. She was determined to break out of her "good girl" sitcom image.

Transition to Film

Eager to be taken more seriously as a dramatic actress, Bonet made her film debut in 1987 in the supernatural thriller Angel Heart opposite Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro. This sexually charged, mysterious film marked a major departure from her wholesome Denise Huxtable image. At age 19, Bonet appeared fully nude in the film, shocking audiences accustomed to seeing her on the tame family sitcom. Her racy, intense performance earned her critical praise for displaying a new level of adult depth and complexity.

Throughout the 1990s, Bonet continued acting in films and TV movies that allowed her to showcase her versatility. She had a supporting role as a struggling single mother in the 1991 crime drama New Jack City starring Wesley Snipes. In 1998, she played Will Smith‘s estranged wife in the blockbuster hit Enemy of the State. She also reunited with her former TV dad Bill Cosby for a guest appearance in the 1999 TV film Touched by an Angel. Bonet deliberately sought complex, gritty films that revealed she was far more than just a sitcom star.

Key Lisa Bonet Movie Roles Over the Years

  • Angel Heart (1987) – Voodoo priestess Epiphany Proudfoot
  • New Jack City (1991) – Nino Brown‘s girlfriend
  • Bank Robber (1993) – Marnie
  • Dead Connection (1995) – Charlotte
  • Enemy of the State (1998) – Rachel Fury
  • High Fidelity (2000) – Marie DeSalle
  • Biker Boyz (2003) – Queenie
  • Whitepaddy (2006) – Delia

Later Career and Life

After semi-retiring in the early 2000s to focus on raising her family, Bonet returned to acting in 2004, taking on guest starring TV roles on shows like Life on Mars and The Red Road. One of her most memorable later parts was playing a fictionalized version of herself in the 2000 John Cusack comedy High Fidelity.

Throughout the late 2000s and 2010s, Bonet enjoyed recurring roles on smaller indie productions like the music-centric series Drunk History and Lena Dunham‘s hit show Girls. In recent years she has received widespread praise for her supporting role as Samantha Winslow on the gritty crime drama Ray Donovan starring Liev Schreiber. Now in her 50s, Bonet continues to shine in interesting projects that highlight her talents. She has successfully navigated the transition from child star to mature, sophisticated dramatic actress.

Later Career Highlights

  • Whitepaddy (2006) – Provocative drama about white woman raised by Black family
  • Drunk History (2014-2015) – Hilarious reenactments of historical events
  • Girls (2015-2017) – Controversial but acclaimed HBO series
  • Ray Donovan (2017-2020) – Dark family crime drama

Off-screen, Bonet‘s personal life has evolved over the decades as well. She divorced Lenny Kravitz in 1993 after six years of marriage. She went on to have a longterm relationship with yoga instructor Bryan Kest, before becoming involved with actor Jason Momoa after meeting him in 2005. Bonet and Momoa married in October 2017. Together they have two children, Lola Iolani (b. 2007) and Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha (b. 2008). Her daughter Zoe Kravitz has followed in her mother‘s footsteps as an actress, establishing herself in films like Mad Max: Fury Road and TV shows such as Big Little Lies.

Legacy and Impact

Few actresses have shown the boldness and uniqueness that define Lisa Bonet‘s presence on screen. Both her portrayal of Denise Huxtable and her film choices broke the conventional mold, introducing audiences to a new paradigm of Black femininity. Her style, talent, and willingness to take creative risks established Bonet as an enduring cultural icon who inspired generations.

Decades later, the influence of her character Denise Huxtable lives on. Lisa Bonet‘s groundbreaking performance shaped culture‘s understanding of what a Black female teen could be – intelligent, creative, insightful. Additionally, her transition to more mature film work expanded the possibilities for Black women in Hollywood. Bonet‘s decades-spanning career serves as an example of the power of staying true to one‘s self – through all ups and downs of the entertainment industry. She remains one of the most original, inspiring talents of her generation.