Growing up, Rutina Wesley expressed a passion for the performing stage through the art of dance. Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, she was influenced and encouraged by her parents to take it up. It was no surprise that she manifested her natural talents, since her mother was a Las Vegas showgirl while her father was a tap dancer and musician. Rutina later became a baton twirler, as well as taking dance lessons to improve herself. In 1997, she graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts High School. She decided to continue her studies by enrolling at the University of Evansville in Indiana, where she received her BFA degree in Theater Performance.
There seemed to be no stopping the aspiring performer, as Rutina Wesley decided to take up her post-undergraduate studies at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York. Honing her skills in the school’s drama division, she graduated in 2005. Earlier on, her grandmother advised her to take up nursing as an alternate occupation. She didn’t follow it, and decided instead to pursue acting. She even spent a summer studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London while still at Juilliard.
In 2006, Wesley made her Broadway debut in the play The Vertical Hour. This enabled her to star alongside Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy. It was directed by Sam Mendes, and its run ended in 2007. This paved the way for Wesley to land a part in her feature film debut, portraying the character Raya in How She Move. She was originally in the movie Hitch with Will Smith, but her scene was deleted in the final cut. In 2008, Wesley joined the cast of the HBO series, True Blood. She got the role of Tara Thornton, appearing alongside Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanten and Sam Trammell.