In the 1990s, Woodard starred in films such as Grand Canyon (1991), Heart and Souls (1993), Crooklyn (1994), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), Primal Fear (1996) and Star Trek: First Contact (1996). She also drew critical praise for her performances in the independent dramas Passion Fish (1992), for which she won an Independent Spirit Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as Down in the Delta (1998). For her lead role in the HBO film Miss Evers’ Boys (1997), Woodard won Golden Globe, Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, and several other awards. In later years, she has appeared in several blockbusters, like K-PAX (2001), The Core (2003), and The Forgotten (2004), starred in independent films, and won her fourth Emmy Award for The Practice in 2003. From 2005 to 2006, Woodard starred as Betty Applewhite in the ABC comedy-drama series Desperate Housewives, and later starred in several short-lived series. She appeared in the critically acclaimed films 12 Years a Slave (2013), Juanita (2019), Clemency (2019, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role) as well as the box office hits Annabelle (2014) and the remake of The Lion King (2019). In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) multimedia franchise, Woodard portrays grieving mother Miriam Sharpe and crime boss “Black” Mariah Dillard Stokes respectively in the feature film Captain America: Civil War (2016) and the streaming television series Luke Cage (2016–2018).
In 2021, Woodard starred opposite Kevin Hart in the drama film Fatherhood directed by Paul Weitz. She has also been cast in action thriller The Gray Man for Netflix, with a production budget of $200 million, making it the most expensive film ever made by Netflix. Woodard has announced that she is producing an upcoming four-hour television miniseries about Fannie Lou Hamer, a voting rights activist and civil rights leader.The project was first announced in 2014, and in November 2020, ABC Signature ordered it to series.
Her latest movie is Salem’s Lot . The film is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures on September 9, 2022.