Chandra Danette Wilson (born August 27, 1969) is an American actress, known for her role as Dr. Miranda Bailey in the ABCtelevision drama Grey's Anatomy since 2005. She made her New York stage debut in 1991 and began to land guest spots on a variety of prime-time television shows. She made her first film appearance in the 1993 film Philadelphia.
Wilson was born in Houston, Texas. She started her theater career at the age of five with the Houston-based Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS). Wilson attended Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and went on to the Tisch School of the Artsat New York University, where she earned a BFA in drama. Her mother, a postal worker, wanted to keep her daughter active, so she enrolled Chandra in a litany of after-school activities that would set the course for her show business career. "Starting at age four, my mom decided that she was not going to have an idle child in the house," Wilson recalls. "So I started taking dance lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then I was in acting classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and I was also modeling on Saturdays. And that was my childhood."
By the age of five, Wilson was performing in musicals with Houston's Theatre Under the Stars company. She attended Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Artsand continued on to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, graduating with a BFA in drama in 1991. For the next four years, from 1991–95, she studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute while at the same time racking up professional theater credits. She made her New York debut in a 1991 production of The Good Times Are Killing Me and won a Theater World Award for Outstanding Debut Performance. Her other early stage credits include off-Broadway productions of Paper Moon: The Musical and Little Shop of Horrors.
While she was making a name for herself on the New York stage, Wilson also began to land guest spots on a variety of prime-time television shows. She appeared on The Cosby Show (1989), Law & Order (1992) and CBS' Schoolbreak Special (1992). She made her big-screen debut alongside Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington in the highly acclaimed 1993 film Philadelphia. Despite receiving high praise for nearly all of her performances, however, Wilson struggled for many years to gain more prominent roles. For eight years, while she tried to break into major stardom, Wilson worked part-time as a teller at Deutsche Bank in order to make ends meet.
Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, Wilson continued to turn in memorable, if brief, performances on popular TV shows. She appeared on Third Watch (2001), Sex and the City (2002), The Sopranos (2004) and in sporadic episodes of Law And Order: SVU. And while struggling to land recurring roles on television, Wilson managed to attain considerable prominence on the Broadway stage in musicals such as On the Town (1998), Avenue Q (2003) and Caroline, or Change (2004).
Then, in 2005, 15 years after she made her television debut on The Cosby Show, Wilson finally landed the breakthrough role she had been waiting for as Dr. Bailey.