She began her acting career in television and theatre before progressing to supporting roles in film.
She also had a recurring role on and appeared as the abusive mother of April on.
She later co-starred in the films , , and.
By age five, Whitfield decided she wanted to be in them.
She also starred as Dorothea Garibaldi in the Disney Channel films and.
In 1991 she won her first Emmy awards for her Outstanding Lead Actress in the miniseries The Josephine Baker Story.