I was an 80s teen and I love covering all things relevant to Generation X.
Mariann Aalda is a black actress who is perhaps best known for her television performances as DiDi Bannister-Stoner on the ABC series The Edge of Night. Bannister appeared on the soap opera from 1981 until the show's cancellation in 1984.
Bannister also gained a fair amount of recognition for her role as Lita Ford on Designing Women, opposite Meshach Taylor, Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts and last, but most certainly not least, Jean Smart.
The Early Years
Aalda grew up in the metropolitan Chicago area, and from an early age, she knew she wanted to entertain people. Her parents enrolled her in dance and theater classes and she won her first paying role before she got to high school.
Her teenage years at Thornton Township High School were split between student council, writing for the school newspaper, and of course, performances in plays. When she hit the New York City scene, she began writing and performing with the Off Center Theater.
One of her first television stints was in 1978's The Wiz, opposite Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Soon after, she won her most famous role as attorney Didi Bannister in The Edge of Night in 1981, where she stayed until 1984.
Her role on The Edge of Night was significant in that she became one of the first African American actresses to successfully land a positive and consistent role on daytime TV.
After "The Edge of Night"
After The Edge of Night came to an end, Aalda quickly found quick work on the 80s sitcom What's Happening Now! (Continuation of 1970s What's Happening!) and a long running, nine-episode story arc on the sports themed TV series 1st & Ten, opposite Delta Burke, in 1990.
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Aalda and Burke would meet once again on the set of Designing Women in 1990, when Burke's character, Suzanne Sugarbaker, became jealous of Alada's character's relationship with the character Anthony Bouvier, played by Meschach Taylor. That was a lot, did you get all of that? I'll digress...
Although Aalda's role as Lita Ford was limited to only a few episodes, the character was a big hit with Designing Women fans, no doubt because of the weird friction the character caused between the show's two main characters, but in any event, fans still remember her well from this role.
She had a few small roles in 90s blockbuster films like Beaches (1988) and Pretty Woman (1990), and she spent the bulk of the decade working on 90s favorites like Family Matters, Grace Under Fire, and The Wayans Brothers amongst many others.
The standout of the decade for Mariann Aalda was her 15-episode starring role on the Redd Foxx, Della Reese vehicle, The Royal Family. The show was created by Eddie Murphy and it also featured Larenz Tate and and a four-year old Naya Rivera. Although fans loved seeing Foxx 's return to television, the show struggled to find its audience and it was canceled after only one year.
The end of the decade brought the actress a dramatic 13-episode role as the disfigured Lena Hart on the short-lived NBC soap opera Sunset Beach.
Mariann Aalda burst into the year 2000 with a stint on Veronica's Closet, and then onto more guest starring roles in a couple of the decades usual suspects on TV, like The Parkers and All of Us.
Mariann Aalda Today
Aalda has appeared in a few TV series since the early 2000s, and she found success starring and producing a 2015 25-episode web series titled Talk to Me Ginger!, where her character, Ginger Peechee-Keane, is an adult sex education evangelist and "mojo" motivator. The performance art character is said to be loosely based on Aalda's personal experience with marriage therapists.
More recently, she has returned to her roots in standup comedy. She's become a motivational speaker and a vocal advocate in the cause for stomping out ageism, for which she has been honored by AARP. She's found much success as an influencer in that realm. You can check out her blog on her advocacy here.
Mariann Aalda stands as an historic figure in the entertainment industry and especially in daytime television, and she's doing well today in her new role as an advocate and influencer. The accomplished actress is now working on a film short called Gumbo. We wish her much success in all she does.
© 2021 Rachelle Williams