Douglas’ death was first announced Tuesday in a Facebook post by her cousin, Angie Tee. “A beautiful and talented actress made her transition today,” she said. “She warmed our hearts on movie screens and television sets all over the world… The world will miss your talent but your soul will live on forever.”
Meanwhile, Douglas’ rep issued the following statement to TVLine: “The industry has lost a truly talented artist with the passing of Suzzanne Douglas. She touched everyone who knew her and was lovely in every sense of the word. The family appreciates your support and asks for their privacy during this difficult time.” (A cause of death was not provided.)
Douglas’ big break came in 1989, when she was cast opposite Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr. in the movie Tap. The part of Amy Simms earned her an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. Additional film roles included Brenda in 1994’s The Inkwell, Gloria in 1994’s Jason’s Lyric, and Angela in 1998’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back. More recently, she portrayed Grammy winner Cissy Houston, mother of Whitney Houston, in the 2015 biopic Whitney.
On the small screen, Douglas starred opposite Robert Townsend in the aforementioned WB sitcom The Parent ‘Hood, which ran for five seasons between 1995 and 1999.
“My heart is full, because yesterday I lost my amazing dancing partner on TV for [five] years Suzanne Douglas,” Townsend wrote on Twitter. “I just remember a lot of laughter and a lot of tears… her regal bright light will be missed.”
She also had a supporting role as Grace Cuffe in Netflix’s acclaimed 2019 miniseries When They See Us. Executive producer Ava DuVernay was also among those who eulogized Douglas, writing: “Suzzanne Douglas was a quiet, elegant force as we made When They See Us. A gentlewoman. A gem of a lady. A confident, caring actor who breathed life into the words and made them shimmer. I’m grateful that our paths in this life crossed. May she journey on in peace and love.”
Jada Pinkett Smith, who starred alongside Douglas in The Inkwell, paid her respects as well: “I woke up this morning to the news that Suzzanne Douglas has passed away,” she said. “She was an elegant, gentle warm spirit. My deepest condolences to her family and loved ones. May she rest in love.”