Charlayne Woodard was born and raised in Albany, New York. She attended the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, but after graduating in 1977, she took $2,000 and her violin and headed to New York City. Within two weeks she had landed a job in the revival of Hair. Her next big opportunity was being cast in the original Broadway production of Ain't Misbehavin' for which she garnered both a Tony and a Drama Desk nomination. She continued her acting career, landing roles in Joseph Papp's production of Twelfth Night and George C. Wolfe's staging of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. After acting in the regional theatre circuit, Woodard needed a change of pace, so she and her husband moved to Los Angeles in 1989. Concentrating on film and television after the relocation, Woodard did a stint on "Days of Our Lives" and had recurring roles on "Roseanne" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Eager to get back to theatre work, the actress made a deal with the Fountainhead Theatre in Hollywood but had to write the play once they agreed. In a marathon week, Woodard penned her autobiographical piece, Pretty Fire. Although Woodard continues her acting career, she has another play in process entitled I Came to Live out Loud.
Living in contemporary Los Angeles with its clearly delimited boundaries between black and white was part of the impetus for Charlayne Woodard's creation of Pretty Fire. The actress was determined to provide a window into the lives of ordinary black Americans. Drawing on her own history and biography, Woodard's one-woman show is a series of five monologue vignettes that