Robin Simone Givens (born November 27, 1964) is an American film, television, and stage actress. Givens first began acting in 1985 with an appearance on The Cosby Show, followed by roles in Diff’rent Strokes, and the 1986 television film Beverly Hills Madam opposite Faye Dunaway. That same year, she landed her breakthrough role as rich girl Darlene Merriman on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. The series lasted five seasons, ending in 1991. In 1989, while starring in Head of the Class, she appeared in The Women of Brewster Place with Oprah Winfrey. She later appeared in 1992′s Boomerang. In 1994, she posed nude for Playboy magazine and was ranked #88 on Empire Magazine 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History list in May 1995.
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In 1996, Givens portrayed Claudia in the television movie The Face (also known as A Face to Die For) with Yasmine Bleeth. Later that year, she co-starred in the UPN sitcom Sparks. The series ended its run in 1998.
In January 2000, Givens appeared in a cameo in music video “He Wasn’t Man Enough” by Toni Braxton, as the wife of a cheating husband. She returned to the entertainment industry later that year as the host of the talk show Forgive or Forget, replacing television personality Mother Love halfway through the show’s second. Ratings initially increased after Givens took over hosting duties, but soon fell. The series was canceled after this season.
In 2006, Givens attempted a return to television on MyNetworkTV’s telenovela Saints and Sinners, but the show garnered low ratings and was soon canceled. Givens continued acting in made-for-television films while also making appearances on Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Praise the Lord program (July 12, 2007), and Larry King Live. In June 2007, she released her autobiography Grace Will Lead Me Home.
In 2008, Givens returned to feature films in Tyler Perry Southern drama The Family That Preys. Givens also had a recurring role portraying a fictionalized version of herself on the CW comedy-drama The Game. She has also had a recurring role on the TBS show Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, and she has a guest role on USA Network’s Burn Notice.
In addition to television and film roles, Givens has also performed onstage. In 2001, she appeared in an Off Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues. From February to April 16, 2006, she played the role of Roxie Hart in the Broadway play Chicago. In 2007, she toured the country playing a part in the I’m Ready Productions play Men, Money & Golddiggers.
Givens most recently starred in the 2009 stage play “A Mother’s Prayer”, which also stars Johnny Gill, Shirley Murdock and Jermaine Crawford.
In 2007, she published a memoir entitled “Grace Will Lead Me Home”. In it, she reflects on the life of her praying grandmother, Grace, her experiences of domestic violence, her strong will to survive, feeling abandoned by her father, and her faith in God.