Reid, Daphne Maxwell
Daphne Maxwell Reid was born Daphne Etta Maxwell on July 13, 1948 in New York City, the child of Rosalee and Green Maxwell. She has two brothers, Rodney McAllister Maxwell, born November 24, 1946, and Kenneth Maxwell, born October 23, 1955. Her father worked as a clerk at a soda fountain (what Maxwell Reid describes as a “sodajerk”) in a drugstore and her mother was a homemaker, seamstress, and activist. Maxwell Reid describes her family life growing up in the Amsterdam Houses, an Upper West Side housing project, as centering on her community and the ideals of the Presbyterian Church.
Maxwell Reid became involved in the arts from an early age. In junior high, she became part of her school’s all city chorus that performed at Carnegie Music Hall. At Bronx High School of Science, Maxwell was a member of the Drama Club and in 1966, she served as the school’s Class President. She appeared in off-Broadway productions of “In White America” and was a wardrobe mistress for another. While in high school, she won The National Achievement Award. A college recruiter visiting Bronx Science first introduced Maxwell to Northwestern University, and a full merit scholarship secured her enrollment into the Weinberg College of Arts and Science class of 1970. The summer before her enrollment, Maxwell Reid lived on the Evanston campus taking college preparatory courses, through a federal antipoverty project called Upward Bound.
At Northwestern, studying Architecture and Interior Design, Maxwell balanced time between attending classes, serving on the student senate, and performing in Northwestern’s Waa-Mu variety show. Maxwell also held three jobs: at the university library, at a research firm in the Loop, and as a model. As a student and working model, Maxwell would often be shuttled to New York for modeling jobs, appearing in ads in the New York Times and Mademoiselle. After a 1967 feature in Seventeen magazine, Maxwell was signed to Eileen Ford modeling agency. In 1969, Maxwell became the first African-American woman to grace the cover of Glamour magazine. Maxwell’s photo in Seventeen was used in her application to Northwestern’s 1967 Homecoming Court. Upon winning the election, Maxwell received national attention as the University’s first African-American homecoming queen. The title led to Maxwell being on the cover of Jet magazine, for the feature “Black Beauty Queens at White Schools.” Jet described Maxwell as one of only 63 black students in Northwestern’s 6000 student undergraduate population. She was featured along with several other women who were the firsts at their respective schools, Maxwell’s nomination recognized as the only one not supported by a black on-campus student group. The student body and administration’s response to Daphne’s election (including not being mentioned by name in the 1967-1968 yearbook) contributed to her decision to distance herself from Northwestern for several decades following, and was uninvolved in University proceedings until 2008. In a 1968 Daily Northwestern article, Vernon Ford, a black student, described Maxwell’s win as yet another “illusory symbol of progress” for the school in 1967. A few months after homecoming, in May 1968, Maxwell was an active participant in a student takeover of Northwestern’s Bursar’s Office, a 38 hour sit-in by the student groups Afro-American Student Union and For Members Only, protesting racism on campus. The peaceful protest was widely criticized, but successful, resulting in reformed Northwestern policies for African-American students. In late 1968, her junior year, Maxwell married her first husband, football player and Northwestern graduate, Robert Tubbs, who would later go on to play football professionally in West Virginia. The couple moved to Waukegan, Illinois, and Maxwell continued to commute to her classes as a full time student.
Maxwell’s exposure in Seventeen and Glamour led to television commercials and acting lessons under teacher, Robert Hookes, the co-founder of the Negro Ensemble Company. While attending Hooke’s workshop, Reid made her professional acting debut in an off-Broadway production of "The Skin of Our Teeth," playing Sabina. In 1973, Maxwell secured her first broadcasting job as a disc jockey on the Chicago radio station, WLS, working there for six weeks.
Her first TV performance was a recurring role working with Robert Conrad in The Duke (1979). TV guest spots followed a few years later on the likes of Cagney and Lacey, Hill Street Blues, and WKRP in Cincinnati. In 1980, she was featured in The Whisper’s music video It’s A Love Thing.
In 1979, Tubbs and Maxwell divorced. In the 1970s, Maxwell met Tim Reid during his time as a performer in the stand-up circuit. Years later, the two were reintroduced in Los Angeles. In 1982 they married, and Daphne formally changed her name to Daphne Maxwell Reid.
In 1982 the Reids founded Timalove Enterprises, an entertainment group in Richmond, Virginia, of which Daphne remains vice-president. From 1983-1987, Maxwell Reid played a recurring character, Temple Hill, opposite her husband on the detective series Simon and Simon. Maxwell Reid describes her most significant role as that of Hanna Griffin in Frank’s Place (1987-1988), again starring alongside Tim Reid, the show’s creator. The Reids also split hosting and presenting duties on various parades and awards shows and played a crime-solving couple on the short-lived Snoops (CBS, 1989-90). From 1990-1991, the couple co-hosted Tim and Daphne, a talk-show that ran on WMAR in Baltimore. In 1993, Maxwell Reid joined the cast of the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, replacing the departing Janet Hubert-Whitten as Will Smith's Aunt Vivian Banks (“Aunt Viv”). The role, which Maxwell Reid played until the show’s end in 1996, gained her widespread notoriety and often remains the character for which she is most remembered today.
Between 1994 and 1997, Maxwell Reid describes her and her husband living and working as “gentleman farmers” in Virginia, purchasing a plot of land and some farm animals to take a break from their acting careers.
In 1997, Daphne and Tim founded the first full service film studio in Virginia, New Millennium Studios. Lincs became the studio’s first production, a half-hour Showtime series which aired from 1998 to 2000. Since its opening, dozens of productions have been filmed at the studio in Petersburg, Virginia including Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012), and the Reids’ own film projects such as Asunder (1999) and For Real (2003). In 2015, after eighteen years of production, the Reids sold the studio.
In the 2000s, Maxwell Reid continued acting, notably in the recurring role as Frances Hunter in Eve, for which she received an Emmy nomination in 2006. Maxwell Reid has several narrator credits to her name as well, including Active Parenting of Teens (2008), and the documentary, Living in A Food Desert (2015). In 2012, she hosted Virginia Currents, which aired weekly on PBS.
Maxwell Reid’s mother, who taught sewing at an urban opportunity center, instilled sewing skills in her daughter at a young age, and throughout her life Daphne has been designing and creating her own clothes. In fact, she sewed her own dress in three hours the night before Northwestern’s 1967 homecoming election. Later, as a working actress, she would sew her own clothes for auditions. An accomplished seamstress and fashion designer, she created a series of instructional videos including Suddenly You're Sewing--with Daphne Maxwell Reid (1992), which she went on to sell and promote on the QVC network. Through QVC, Suddenly...you’re Sewing! became immediately popular, Daphne describing 1,500 units sold in her first hour on air. In the next decade, Maxwell Reid further developed sewing patterns under the Daphne Maxwell Reid Collection for The McCall Pattern Company. She now has a line of custom made clothing under the name DAPHNE STYLE.
In 2012, Maxwell Reid began publishing her photography series titled Doors, featuring her prints from her international travel. In 2017, she published her cookbook Grace + Soul & Mother Wit: A Cookbook Spiced with Personal Memories through Timalove Publishing. She currently sells Daphne Maxwell Reid Fresh Prints, a collection of signed digital prints, notecards, and books.
Maxwell Reid remains active in her local community of Petersburg, Virginia, and in the nearby city of Richmond. These involvements include serving on the board of the Petersburg Library Foundation (2007-2014), the Petersburg Area Art League (2008-present), the Richmond Forum (2011-2017), the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (2013-present), and as Secretary of the Board of Visitors for Virginia State University (2008-2016). In 2012, Maxwell Reid spoke at Randolph-Macon College’s class commencement ceremony in Ashland, Virginia. In 2009, she toured Western Europe as part of the Armed Forces Entertainment group, visiting US military bases in Germany, Italy, and Spain.
In 2006, Maxwell Reid was invited by the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association to return to Chicago to receive a Hall of Fame Award. She returned to the University, again, in 2008, for the 40th anniversary of Northwestern’s 1968 Bursar’s Office Takeover. The university hosted a series of panel discussions of which she participated. Maxwell Reid also received a formal apology from Northwestern President Henry Bienen for the poor treatment she received as a student. In 2010, she was recognized as an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Daphne Maxwell Reid lives with her husband, Tim Reid, in Richmond, Virginia. They have three grown children, including Tim Jr. and Tori, from Tim’s first marriage, and Christopher Tubbs, from Daphne’s first marriage to the late Robert Tubbs; and three grandchildren, Kai, Skyler, and Francessca.
Found in 1 Collection or Record:
Daphne Maxwell Reid, a graduate of Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Science class in 1970, is a model, actress, fashion designer, photographer, and author. Her collection spans the years 1951-2018 and contains biographical materials, correspondence, modeling photos, acting scripts, original clothing from her fashion line, photography, and books. The papers of Daphne Maxwell Reid include 34 boxes and contain approximately 2.10 gigabytes of born-digital files.