Marla Gibbs performed in Los Angeles Theater and studied with her daughter Angela at the Mafundi Institute and Watts Writers Workshop. After playing small roles in TV movies and on Barney Miller, Marla Gibbs was cast as Florence on The Jeffersons. Florence was originally supposed to be a bit part, but Miss Gibbs' performance made her a regular. She was even given her own spin-off, Checking In, which didn't last long. After returning to The Jeffersons, she appeared in a play called "227," produced by daughter Angela. The play's success led to her creating a series, which lasted five years. She also contributed as a writer and the vocalist of the show's theme song.
She made regular TV appearances as Hughley's mother on The Hughleys and as Aunt Irma on the daytime drama Passions. She was also on The Surreal Life and Living in TV Land, and helped lampoon a famous The Jeffersons episode on 2002's The Rerun Show. Miss Gibbs participated in Eve Ensler's play "The Vagina Monologues" in New York City and hosts productions at her Crossroads Theater in the Crenshaw district in South Los Angeles. A winner and multiple nominee of the NAACP Image Award, Gibbs was also nominated five times for portraying Florence Johnston.
Florence works for the Jeffersons as a maid - though it's often hard to tell who the boss really is. With her tart-tongued wit, she has no trouble speaking her mind. She and George Jefferson are perfect verbal sparring partners, with his jokes about her cleaning abilities and hers about his height (or lack thereof). Florence briefly attempts to "move on up" herself by taking a job at the St. Fredric Hotel as the executive housekeeper, but ends up back with the Jeffersons when that doesn't pan out. A devoted choir member at her church, she is often on the search for a good man and a good drink.