Lisa Bonet captivated fans on timeless Black sitcoms like The Cosby Show and A Different World with her carefree personality and stunning beauty. Acting isn’t at the top of her list these days. Now, the inimitable star is a proud mother of three and a writer, who seems to be enjoying life away from the fast pace of Hollywood.
But one thing is for sure. Bonet has left an indelible mark on the TV and film world with her witty personality and versatile roles. Here’s what we know about the star’s remarkable career.
Lisa Bonet was born on November 16, 1967, in San Francisco, California. Her mother, Arlene Joyce, was a schoolteacher of Jewish ancestry. Her father, Allen Bonet, was an African American opera singer. The iconic actress graduated from Birmingham High School, in Van Nuys, California, before she went on to study acting at the Celluloid Actor’s Studio.
Growing up in San Francisco as a mixed-race child came with a set of complex challenges for the High Fidelity actress.
“The world wasn’t ready for what I represented, the merging of these two races,” Bonet told Porter magazine in 2018. “I didn’t always feel welcome – in my mom’s family, in my school. So I sheltered myself by always withholding a bit because I didn’t always feel safe.”
According to her IMDB page, Bonet landed her first commercial when she was 11. She went on to appear in a number of commercials and small projects in the early ’80s. But her big break came in 1984 when she was cast as Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show at 16. The hit series was a massive success and Bonet quickly became a fan favorite for her portrayal of the free-spirited and rebellious teenager.
In 1991, she left the beloved series after her relationship with Bill Cosby turned sour. The actress was notorious for showing up late on set. Around this time, Bonet began to step out of her family-show persona and embrace her true rebel roots. She posed nude in Interview magazine and performed a racy sex scene with actor Mickey Rourke in the 1987 drama Angel Heart. Cosby famously opposed her role in the steamy film.
Following her departure from The Cosby Show, Bonet continued to work in the entertainment industry, appearing in several films and TV shows over the years. In 1987, she scored a recurring role on the hit TV show, A Different World, which, was a spin-off of The Cosby Show. Her character, Denise Huxtable, appeared in the first season, but Bonet left the series after just one year.
That same year, Bonet left the acting world after she fell in love with her first ex-husband Lenny Kravitz. The couple married and welcomed their daughter Zoë Kravitz in 1988, but the pair filed for divorce in 1993. While navigating life as a single mom, Bonet made a brief return to Hollywood in the late ’90s, when she co-starred alongside Will Smith in Enemy of the State. She also wowed critics with her performance in High Fidelity opposite John Cusack.
But life’s ups and downs took a toll on her passion for the business. At the time, Bonet was still healing from her divorce from Lenny Kravitz. She was also frustrated with the industry’s lack of diverse roles.
“I always had one foot in and one foot out of the business, so that’s part of it. But also, it’s slim pickings out there! There aren’t endless opportunities for women of color,” she added to Porter.
In recent years, Bonet has appeared in a number of popular TV shows, including Ray Donovan, Girls and The Red Road.
In 2017, Bonet married actor Jason Momoa. The couple share two children, a daughter named Lola and a son named Nakoa-Wolf. In 2022, the couple separated, but they still maintain a close relationship and successfully co-parent their two kids.
A source told PEOPLE that the “split was a result of their diverging career trajectories and that Bonet’s focus on her life in L.A. meant she was unable to join Momoa on every location.”
Now, Bonet lives a quiet and tranquil life up in the mountains, an hour outside of Los Angeles, where she continues to write and create. But you won’t see her popping up on the big screen anytime soon.
“Acting is how I’ve forged my way, but I don’t think it’s my passion,” the actress previously told Porter. “Maybe directing. I have ideas. There’s a movie, a children’s TV show, and a documentary short. I feel that I have the soul of an artist, but I don’t know yet which medium,” she added.
Outside of acting, Bonet is also known for her activism and her commitment to environmental causes. She has been a longtime supporter of the Natural Resources Defense Council and has spoken out about the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle. The iconic Black sitcom star also works with a non-profit called, Operation Venice Heart, helping troubled incarcerated youth in L.A.
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