Rose McClendon was a renowned black dramatic actress of the 1920s and 1930s. Her acting career did not begin until she was in her thirties.
McClendon was born in Greenville, South Carolina 1884 to Sandy and Lena Scott. The family migrated to New York City around 1890.
At a young age, McClendon became interested in acting while attending the Saint Mark’s African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was a scholar to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts at Carnegie Hall and later made her professional debut in Justice (1919-1920).
In 1926, McClendon gained prominence for her acting in Deep River, where she earned rave reviews, and in Paul Green’s Pulitzer prize-winning folk tragedy, In Abraham’s Bosom that starred Jules Bledsoe in the title role. Her reputation grew with her portrayal of Serena in Dubose and Dorothy Heyward’s Porgy (1927) for which she received the Morning Telegraph Acting Award.
In 1935, McClendon developed her vision of a black theater company, she along with Dick Campbell founded the Negro People’s Theater.