It’s always bittersweet to see a good actress or singer reach a career high and then fall off. Whether due to circumstances beyond her control or a voluntary departure from the spotlight, the disappearance of our favorite onscreen and radio presences is a real bummer. Here are a few ladies we’d like to reappear on our radar.

1. Lisa Nicole Carson
Many know the story–and it’s been featured here at Clutch. Carson rose to fame with regular or recurring roles on hit TV shows like Ally McBeal and ER. With a brilliant deep-dimpled smile and the voice of a songbird, she was set to Before long, she was taking the big screen by storm with scene-stealing performances in Devil in a Blue Dress, Eve’s Bayou, and love jones. But just as her career was hitting its stride rumors about her erratic on-set behavior surfaced and eventually lost her her job. Since her fade from the spotlight, we’ve learned that she’s dealing with a serious mental health battle.

Even if it’s unlikely that she’ll return to professional acting, as her mental health should be everyone’s first priority and Hollywood is the surest place in the world to harm it, we’d still like to hear more about her – especially if it means finding out that she’s managing and maintaining wellness — or even see her out and about, enjoying a film premiere every now and again.

2. Maia Campbell
This former child star has had a more public struggle with mental health challenges and addiction. Unlike Carson, whose departure from fame was immediate and long-term, each of Maia Campbell’s relapses and setbacks seemed to be captured on film and proliferated all over the internet. These days it seems that Campbell is doing better. Just a few months back she expressed her hopes for a return to acting, particularly in an adaptation of her late mother, Bebe Moore Campbell’s novel, 72 Hour Hold (which is loosely based on her life). She’s also reportedly finished a novel and a memoir. Despite everything she’s been through, Campbell has managed to retain beauty and fortify her ambition. While it might be a great idea for her to reside in a state far, far from California, only flying in to work from time to time, it would be such a wonderful thing to see her onscreen as an adult. Sometimes, all someone in her position needs is continuous support and a great opportunity. We wish her both.

3. Nona Gaye
Okay. I know you’re probably sensing a trend at this point, but I assure you, not all of our Comeback Queens are struggling with the same impediments to stardom. But before we move on, let’s talk about Nona Gaye. Gaye, daughter of deceased R&B icon Marvin Gaye, is yet another gorgeous former actress and singer who faltered at the cusp of a very promising career. Her downfall: drug addiction — which is unsurprising, given both of her parents’ struggles with the same. Still, it’s so devastating to catch a Matrix sequel on cable, glimpse her role in Ali, or hear some devoted fan rocking one of her somewhat obscure singles, and think of drugs ravishing all that talent. It would be great to see her again, and not in a negative light.

4. Theresa Randle
Randle rose to prominence in the ’90s, playing dutiful girlfriends and wives in films like The Five Heartbeats, Bad Boys, and Sugar Hill. For a while there, it seemed like you almost expected her to appear alongside whatever black comedian-turned-action-star happened to have a film in wide release. Then Spike Lee gave her what seemed to be a black actress’s dream: a starring role in one of his films. Girl 6 was a departure for Lee, who has often been criticized for under-writing or poorly writing his roles for women. But the film put Randle in closeup, chronicling her character’s foray into the seedy world of phone sex as an indirect route toward an acting career. The role allowed her to dress up as other iconic black characters — from Carmen Jones to Good Times‘ Thelma — and, despite your opinion of the film itself, you could really see Randle’s long-term prospects as an actress as a result of it. But shortly after Girl 6, Randle faded from view. She popped back up once or twice in the ’00s, once in Law and Order and again on a Lifetime drama series. But she never reached that consistently-working status we hoped she’d be afforded. Her latest IMDb credit lists a film in 2010, which indicates that she’s still out there, actively seeking roles. Somebody put her (back) on!

5. Brandy
With a recurring role of BET’s The Game, an album on the horizon, and a recent VH1 Behind the Music segment that explains how she fell off in the first place, Brandy is already on the comeback trail. By her own estimation, the scandal surrounding her faked marriage was a career-stopper. Coupled with the bad press surrounding the death that occurred as the result of a car accident in which she was one of the drivers, Brandy’s seemingly untouchable career — and squeaky-clean sweetheart image — imploded. We still haven’t figured out if her reality show with brother Ray J, A Family Business, was a plus or a minus in the career win column (certainly her ill-advised decision to evoke a rap alter ego was a minus), but we’re hoping that her most recent endeavors will mark a return to form.

Who would you add to our Comeback Queens list? 

  •!/clnmike Tonton Michel

    Agree with everyone on that list, Lisa would have been a shoe in for the Pam Grier movie.

  • Leonie UK

    Keisha Knight Pullam, she needs to either do the political educated route like Tatyana Ali or an acting REAL gig like Kerry Washington. I say these two ladies because like Ms Pullam she eludes class out of her finger and has the backing of very prominate and high staked figures to back her hustle on.

  • Mocha

    Theresa Randle and Lisa Nicole Carson are two of my faves. Something about Nicole and Theresa’s delivery that made them stand alone. Maybe it was Nicole’s sassy attitude. Theresa had this way of making characters her own. Sugar Hill, clasic! I liked them both and hope they may a comeback sooner than later.

  • HowApropos

    I’d love to see Lisa Nicole Carson back on a show, but with her as the lead.

    And Theresa Randall…she needs to come back.

    Does anybody know what happened to them?

  • Dalili

    It would be great to have both Lisa Nicole Carson(Loved her in Ally McBeal) and Nona Gaye back in the swing of things. They are both so talented. I am so happy Maia Campbell is doing well!

    Rachel True & Jill Marie Jones would be the two I’d like most to see in some sort of leading role.

  • InnaLeigh

    Yall hit it RIGHT on the head with this article…
    All of these women were so gorgeous and talented… Would have to agree that I would like to see Keisha Knight Pullam in more things, as well.

  • HowApropos

    Ok, ok, nix the last question.

    If anything, I want my girl, Maya to make a comeback, and not as an actress, but as a person who won the battle with her demons.

    My heart broke every time I saw a video of her on her drug binges, and wishing harm on those idiots who felt the need to exploit her like they did. I saw recently that she’s in rehab, so I really wish her the best.

    Actually, I wish I could see all of them make a comeback. I loved them all.

  • iQgraphics

    I have been in love with Teresa Randall for years…

  • Please Excuse Me

    I am a huge fan of Lisa Nicole Carson…not sure how true it is but I heard that she’s bipolar and that her family is taking care of her.

  • Kanyade

    I am definitely interested in seeing Teresa again. LOVE HER. Also, Lisa Nicole Carson.

  • Alexandra

    Great article. Really great list, I’ve been missing Brandy on the screen.
    I would also like to see Kellie Shanygne Williams return, Lela Rochon and Trina McGee.

  • Stacia L. Brown

    Great additions! I forgot all about all three of these ladies–and I really like them. I thought I’d see more of Trina McGee, but with three kids, she’s probably focusing on parenting. Ditto Lela Rochon. It’s like she retired when she married Antoine Fuqua.

  • Cherry Davis

    Don’t forget Brandi was also a semi recurring character on Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime) in a role that involved a major twist in the show.

  • RC

    First I want to say that I am a 100% heterosexual woman….. but that pic of Ms.Carson……….. GOT D#*N !!!!

  • TAE

    all i got to say is i collect spike lee films, I think he is genius, and Girl 6 is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time. ALL TIME. And this list is on point. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any other blakc actresses that have fallen off that I would like to see back on it.

  • SheThrives11

    I’ll be the first in line for Brandy’s new album when it drops. I’ll always be a fan and her voice is amazing!

  • HowApropos

    I’ve had a serious girl-crush on Rachel True ever since The Craft and Half Baked.

    I’d love to see her in more film and/or series.

  • Sindy

    JMJ does a lot of straight DVD movies but I liked her in ’35 and Ticking’ (actually everybody except Kevin Hart was good in that).

    Rachel True is interesting because around the time she spoke out on how new networks(CW, UPN, Fox) use Black sitcoms to build an audience and then replace those successful shows with shows that have a mostly White cast, it looked like she’d been blacklisted.
    Check out her IMDB page and you’ll see a big gap in that time period and when she began doing a couple of things in recent. She was OK in ‘Sugar Mamas’ though it could have been a better storyline period.

  • posh brown

    i haven’t seen tangi miller (from felicity) in a long time. she was great in everything she was in.

  • C

    Most of Spike lees movies suck, imo, but I saw an old one of his* Shes gotta have it* and I wonder whatever happened to the lead actress in that movie…She was beautiful and I cant remember her name.

  • C

    And Cynda Williams from *Mo Betta Blues*. What happened to her. She was also beautiful and talented.

  • sf

    lol I swear everyone but myself forgot about Nona Gaye, I listen to “the things that we all do for love” all the time, I’m in total agreement there!

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