Rutina Wesley is known for the character Tara Thorton, on the gritty Southern vampire drama, True Blood (2008). She was born in the city most renowned for glitz and glamour, Las Vegas, Nevada and was exposed to the arts at a very early age; in fact entertainment runs through her veins. Her father, Ivery Wheeler, is a noted tap dancer while her mother, Cassandra Wesley, performed on the Vegas strip as a showgirl. Rutina studied dance for years then earned an undergraduate degree in Theatre Performance from the University of Evansville in Indiana. She had the good fortune to be accepted by the acclaimed Julliard School. During Rutina’s stint at Julliard, she was fortunate enough to spend a summer at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Fortune was with Rutina again when one of her Julliard classmates, Nelsan Ellis, reconnected with her when he became her co-star on True Blood (2008).
After leaving Julliard, Rutina was cast in the Broadway production of a David Hare play, “The Vertical Hour” opposite Bill Nighy. Rutina followed “The Vertical Hour” with an appearance in the Public Theater production, “In Darfur”. Her small role in the hit movie, Hitch (2005), was cut from the completed film but that did not deter her from pursuing her dream. She made another big-screen appearance, this time in the dance melodrama How She Move (2007). She also guest starred on the hit television show Numb3rs (2005); however, her break came when she signed onto the HBO production, True Blood (2008).
True Blood (2008) is adapted from the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire literary series by Charlaine Harris and conceived for the small screen by Alan Ball of American Beauty (1999) and Six Feet Under (2001). Rutina’s portrayal of Tara Thornton, a character whose caustic tongue and tough manner conceal her vulnerability, helped make True Blood (2008) a cult hit. The success of True Blood (2008) shocked naysayers when the vampire soap opera became a favorite of both critics and audiences alike. We’ll be seeing more of Rutina in 2010 when True Blood (2008) returns for its third season.
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