Marva grew up in Petersburg, Virginia, and attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her first professional acting role was as an understudy for CCH Pounder at Washington's Arena Stage Theatre. Marva appeared on Broadway in Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, and her off-Broadway credits include Staggerlee and A . . . My Name Is Alice. She has starred in regional productions of One Mo' Time, Sing Mahalia Sing, Twist and Bubbling Brown Sugar.
In addition to her acting talents, Marva is also an accomplished singer. She has performed with such superstars as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder, and released her own album in 1991.
On television, Marva had recurring roles on Mad About You, L.A. Law and Loving, and guest starred on series such as 'Star Trek: Voyager, Melrose Place, Sister Sister and Alien Nation: Body & Soul.
Marva currently lives in Manhattan.