Retta in 2012
Born Marietta Sirleaf
(1970-04-12) April 12, 1970
New Jersey
Alma mater Duke University
Occupation Actress, stand-up comedian
Years active 1996-present

Marietta Sirleaf[1] (born April 12, 1970), better known simply as Retta, is an American stand-up comedian and actress. She is mainly known for her role as Donna Meagle on NBC's Parks and Recreation. She has appeared in several films and television shows, and has performed stand-up on Comedy Central's Premium Blend. She currently stars as Barbara in Bravo's Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce.

Early life

Retta is from New Jersey. Her family is from Liberia, and she is the niece of the Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.[2]

Retta graduated from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.[3] She started working in the pharmaceutical research field before moving to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a career in comedy.[4]

Comedy career

Retta started performing stand-up comedy in 1996, although she said she did not start "earning money" until 1998, when she began touring on the college circuit. Retta said she used to get "really nauseated" before a performance, but that the feeling passed with experience.[5] Retta has said her stand-up material tends to be slightly embellished stories from her regular everyday life, family, and friends.[4][6] Retta has stated she would give up stand-up comedy for a full-time acting career if possible: "I'm not married to stand-up, just because it's a road thing. It's very lonely with all the traveling."[7]

Retta has served as the opening act for such comedians as Shirley Hemphill and Bobby Collins.[5] She has made television appearances on E! Entertainment Television's The Soup,[6] Freddie, Moesha, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,[7] the "Comedy Divas Showcase" segment of The Jenny Jones Show,[8] Retta has performed on Premium Blend, a Comedy Central show featuring up-and-coming comedians.[5]

In 2009, Retta started making regular guest appearances on the NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation as Donna Meagle, an employee in the Parks Department of the fictional town, Pawnee, Indiana. During a stand-up performance at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Retta said the acting job on the show was stressful because it was unclear how long the show would stay on the air, due to the poor reviews it received during the first season.[6] Alan Sepinwall, a television columnist with The Star-Ledger, said season 2 episodes of Parks and Recreation afforded more personality and funnier jokes to Donna and other minor characters.[9] She was upgraded to a full-time regular cast member in the third season.[10]

Retta also hosted the 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards in 2013.[11] In 2014, she appeared on Hollywood Game Night as a contestant along with the other celebrities Paget Brewster, Michael Chiklis, Mario Lopez, Thomas Lennon, and Alyssa Milano.[12]

In 2015, Retta was one of the audiobook narrators for Welcome to Night Vale, a novel tie-in to the eponymous podcast series.[10] The same year she appeared in season 2 of Bravo's Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce.[10]

Personal life

Retta is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, and presented awards at the NHL award ceremonies in Las Vegas, in 2014 and 2015.



Year Title Role Notes
1998 Ringmaster Additional voices
2002 Slackers Bruna
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Sad Eye Sadie
2007 Fracture Evidence Room Cop
2007 Sex and Death 101 Ethel
2008 First Sunday Roberta
2014 Sex Ed Sydney
2015 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip Party Planner
2016 Other People Nina
2016 Operator Pauline 'Roger' Rogers
2016 Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Ida Stricker
2017 Bastards Annie Completed


Year Title Role Notes
2004 $5.15/Hr Joy HBO
2005 Freddie Joan Episode: "Rich Man, Poor Girl"
2006 Rodney Tanya Evans Episode: "When Rodney Comes Marching Home"
2008 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Hardware Store Clerk Episode: "The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover Edition"
2009–15 Parks and Recreation Donna Meagle 120 episodes
2009 Jimmy Kimmel Live! Heckler Episode: "#7.46"
2014 Kroll Show TSA #1 Episode: "Krolling Around with Nick Klown"
2014 Drunk History Sylvia Robinson Episode: "American Music"
2014 Key & Peele The Woman Episode: "Sex Addict Wendell"
2015–present Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce Barbara Recurring (season 2), regular (season 3)[13]
2015 Kroll Show Lara Episode: "Body Bouncers"


  1. Retta - Donna Meagle Parks and Recreation,
  2. Chaney, Jen (October 7, 2011). "What's the connection between a Nobel Prize winner and 'Parks and Recreation'?". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  3. Sangweni, Yolanda (September 12, 2012). "7 Reasons You Should Know Parks and Recreation Star Retta". Essence. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  4. 1 2 Azzi, Amy (January 28, 2009). "Comedian took long route to comedy". Royal Purple News. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  5. 1 2 3 Eells, Kelly Feser (June 6, 2003). "T-150 seats down for stand-up guys". Ojai Valley News. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  6. 1 2 3 Dunn, Valeree (October 14, 2009). "Performer Spotlight on... Retta". UIS Journal. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  7. 1 2 Haynes, Robert (November 17, 2009). "Comedian Retta brings glee to bear country". The Echo. University of Central Arkansas.
  8. Ory, Marie (March 15, 2001). "Laughter -- the medicine of life". The Nicholls Worth. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
  9. Sepinwall, Alan (November 5, 2009). "Parks and Recreation, "Ron and Tammy": Megan Mullally guests". The Star-Ledger. New Jersey On-Line. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  10. 1 2 3 Feuer, Ryan (16 July 2015). "Comedian Retta talks Jersey roots, 'Parks and Rec' and 'Geeks Who Drink'". Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  11. "Awards News: Critics' Choice Nominations". CBS. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  12. Snetiker, Marc (15 January 2014). "Retta takes on Mario Lopez in the Olympics on 'Hollywood Game Night' -- EXCLUSIVE". Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  13. Ausiello, Michael. "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce Promotes Retta to Series Regular in Season 3". TV Line. TVLine Media, LLC. Retrieved June 30, 2016.

External links

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