Robin Simone Givens was born to Ruth and Reuben Givens in New York City on 27 November, 1964. Robin was raised with her younger sister by their mother, Ruth in Westchester, CT. Her mother helped her daughters by encouraging their creativity; this influenced their interest in the arts. As a young artist, Robin played violin for a short while. She chose acting instead, and began classes in New York City, at age ten, at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
In 1980, Robin enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College as a freshman in pre-med, at age fifteen. During her junior year, she became so interested in acting that she left school. She once claimed in Seventeen Magazine that she was accepted to Harvard Medical School but had given it up to appear on The Cosby Show because Bill Cosby himself told her that the school would always be there and her youthful career opportunities would not. Harvard later said that they had never even gotten her application.
She appeared on The Cosby Show and Diff'rent Strokes and the TV movie Beverly Hills Madam as April Baxter, before receiving the role as rich girl Darlene Merriman on the sitcom Head of the Class, which made her famous. The series was a comedy about a group of gifted high school students that were placed in an enrichment class.
She achieved further prominence as the wife (1988-1989) of heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson with whom she shared a mansion in the affluent suburbs of New Jersey. They divorced, however, after Givens accused Tyson of spousal abuse. The marriage ended (on Valentine's Day), just a year later. Rumors hinted at abuse and infidelity.
After her run on Head of the Class and her high profile divorce from Tyson, she appeared in numerous TV specials, TV movies (most notably The Women of Brewster Place with Oprah Winfrey and The Face with Yasmine Bleeth) and some failed sitcoms.
Givens attempted to return to the entertainment industry in 2000 as the host of the talk show, Forgive or Forget replacing television personality Mother Love. While this was generally regarded as a failure, Givens was well-liked by the audience. Her stint was brief, as just a few months later, the show stopped production. Many point to Mother Love's devoted audience, and the odd dismissal of her from the show she pioneered and created. Robin has tried to forge a friendship with Mother Love, but Love doesn't appear interested. Robin called in during a Howard Stern interview of Mother Love, where she said she was "on her way to work," which although innocent, proved to upset Mother Love. With the exception of the occasional made-for-television movie, she has not been seen on television since. She performed in New York in the Off-Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues, earning good reviews for her performance.
Robin married again in 1997, to her tennis instructor Svetozar Marinkovic. The marriage was a complete failure, as the two were separated from the day of their marriage. Robin cited 'irreconcilable differences' when she filed for divorce, which is in progress. Not only a successful model and esteemed actress, Robin is also a mother. In October 1999, she had a son, with tennis player Murphy Jensen; they are no longer together. She has another child, and is raising them both today.