Born December 16, 1961 in St. Augustine, Florida, to parents Walter and Rosalie Sapp, her stage name "LaChanze" (Creole: the charmed one), is taken from her grandmother. After moving to Connecticut, her childhood love of singing and dancing caused her mother to enroll her in the Bowen Peters Cultural Arts Center in New Haven.
Her first professional role was in the Broadway musical Uptown...It's Hot! directed by Maurice Hines. From there she was cast in the first international tour of Dreamgirls, which finished with a run on Broadway. Other Broadway credits include Once on this Island, for which she received a Tony Award nomination, Drama Desk nomination, and Theatre World Award; Ragtime, for which she received an Ovation Award nomination; the first Broadway revival of Company; Dessa Rose for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination, and won an Obie Award for the title role. Her most recent Broadway role was in Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple, where she won the Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical. Off Broadway credits include Once on This Island; The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin for which she received another Drama Desk nomination and Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Other theatre credits include: Spunk (Hartford Stage); Jesus Christ Superstar (Walnut Street); From the Mississippi Delta (Cincinnati Playhouse); Baby (Papermill Playhouse); Out Of This World (Encores! City Center Series); and the world premiere of The Color Purple (Alliance Theatre).
LaChanze’s television credits began with recurring roles on The Cosby Show and The Cosby Mysteries. In addition, she was a guest lead on Law And Order SVU; Sex and the City; New York Undercover and the Gregory Hines Show. She also performed on The View, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Good Morning America, Live with Regis and Kelly, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet and Oprah. Her film credits include the most recently Confessions of a Shopaholic and Breaking Upwards; additional film credits include My New Gun, For Love or Money, Leap of Faith, Heartbreak Hospital and Disney's animated feature Hercules.