Dance was Rutina Wesley's first love while growing up in Las Vegas, NV, where she was born. Rutina's mother was a Las Vegas showgirl and her father is a tap dancer and musician. She graduated in 1997 from the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts high school and received a BFA from the University of Evansville in Indiana.
Rutina continued her post undergraduate studies at the Juilliard School in New York in the drama division and graduated in 2005.
She studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London for a summer while attending Juilliard. She debuted on Broadway in 2006 alongside Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy in The Vertical Hour. Her film debut was as Raya in How She Move in 2007.
In 2008, Rutina made her breakout performance on television in the Emmy awardedHBO series True Blood. Rutina played the character Tara who is best friends with the shows main female protagonist Sookie.