Valeri discovered Black Theater at Knoxville College’s Upward Bound Program with Sherby Barber.  At UCLA she majored in math but found a way to make theatre an important part of her studies.  Years later, she studied improv comedy with Jo Forensburg at Second City (Chicago) and that gave her the courage to leave IBM and Systems Engineering to make her living as an artist.

During her years in San Francisco, she was totally immersed in the idyllic theatre environs (likened to New York’s Off Broadway) and performed, produced, taught and studied theatre.  She took master classes in “the method” at Wendell Phillips’ StageGroup (an offshoot of New York’s Actor’s Studio) along with Del Roy Lindo, Ben Guillory and others.  Master Classes with Beah Richards led to her first national tour in “STOOPS” which Ms. Richards directed.  Under the guidance of Mel Stewart, an original member of The Committee (the first commercially successful improv troupe) Valeri joined Danny Glover and a handful of daring artists to perform improvisational comedy at venues all over San Francisco as part of the improv troupe 8 Pieces of Gold.

 Seizing an opportunity to live in Africa for two and a half years, Valeri was a lecturer in theater at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.  While there, she joined ZACT, a grass roots theatre movement and toured the country with a political theatre troupe based in the capital city Harare.  She also produced and performed in a national radio program, a series of 13 shows told folktales and historical moments from Zimbabwe’s history.

On returning to the United States, her family settled in Los Angeles where she was awarded a Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department Grant to present folktales on public radio.  On stage, she toured (locally and nationally) for several years with the 2 person show “Letters to Harriet Tubman” and was also a member of the “We Tell Stories” touring troupe.  She taught and directed drama at UC Irvine in a program for gifted high school students and at Mark Kepple High School in Alhambra.

Valeri has done sketch and improv comedy at many LA venues including the Main Room at The Comedy Store and at Pasadena’s ICE HOUSE.  Her film roles include Sojourner Truth (with Roscoe Lee Brown as Frederick Douglas) and Mrs. Cager in the Disney feature film “Glory Road”.

Television knows her most notably as the recurring characters McGillis, MSW on “ER” and Francis on “American Dreams”.  She played the 40 and 65 year old Truly Sinclair in “COLD CASE”.  Other guest appearances include CSI:NY, Criminal Minds, Law and Order (LA) and The Office .


 She is represented theatrically by Amsel, Eisenstadt and Frasier (323 939 1180) and for commercials and voice over through Arlene Thornton and Associates (818 760 6688).
VR@ValeriRoss.com