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Blair Underwood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blair Underwood
Blair Underwood 3rd Annual ICON MANN POWER 50 event - Feb 2015 (cropped).jpg
Underwood in February 2015
Blair Erwin Underwood

(1964-08-25) August 25, 1964 (age 54)
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
OccupationActor, director
Years active1985–present
Desiree DaCosta (m. 1994)

Blair Erwin Underwood[1] (born August 25, 1964) is an American television, film, and stage actor and director. He played attorney Jonathan Rollins on the NBC legal drama L.A. Law for seven years. He has received two Golden Globe Award nominations, three NAACP Image Awards and one Grammy Award. In recent years, he has appeared in The New Adventures of Old Christine, Dirty Sexy Money and In Treatment, The Event, Quantico, and as Andrew Garner in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Early life

Underwood was born in Tacoma, Washington, the son of Marilyn Ann Scales, an interior decorator, and Frank Eugene Underwood, Sr., a United States Army colonel.[2][3][4] Because of his father's military career, Underwood lived on bases and Army Posts in the United States and Stuttgart, Germany, during his childhood.[5] Blair attended Petersburg High School in Petersburg, Virginia. He went on to attend the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is an honorary member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.


Underwood at the 41st Emmy Awards, September 1989
Underwood at the 41st Emmy Awards, September 1989

After his film debut, Krush Groove, Underwood's 1985 appearance on The Cosby Show landed him a short stint on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live as Bobby Blue, which eventually led to his performance on the TV series L.A. Law, where he appeared from 1987 to 1994. In 1996 he was featured in the July issue of Playgirl. Blair also appeared in the 1987's TV series 21 Jump Street aside a young Johnny Depp on episode "Gotta Finish the Riff."

Underwood's film career began with roles in Just Cause (1995), Set It Off (1996) and Deep Impact (1998). He also had a supporting role as a geneticist in Gattaca. In 2000, he played the lead role in the short-lived television series City of Angels. In 2003, he guest starred in four episodes[5] on the HBO series Sex and the City playing Cynthia Nixon's love interest. In 2004, he played the role of Roger De Souza opposite Heather Locklear in NBC's LAX.[6] He gained acclaim as the sexy grade school teacher in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus for two years. In 2007, he guest starred in an episode of the NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.[7] He played the character Alex in the first season of the HBO series In Treatment, for which he was nominated for best supporting actor at the 2009 Golden Globes.[8]

Underwood at the premiere for Earth in April 2009
Underwood at the premiere for Earth in April 2009

Underwood has received six NAACP Image Awards, for his film work in Rules of Engagement, and his television work in L.A. Law, City of Angels, Murder in Mississippi, Mama Flora's Family, and The Trip to Bountiful. Underwood was voted one of People 's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2000, and one of TV Guide 's "Most Influential Faces of the 90s".[9] In 2007, Underwood co-authored the novel Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel with husband-and-wife team Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due.

In 2010–2011, Underwood portrayed United States President Elias Martinez in the NBC drama series The Event, which premiered in Fall 2010.[10][11] Underwood portrayed the role of Saint Mark in The Truth & Life Dramatized audio New Testament Bible, a 22-hour, celebrity-voiced, fully dramatized audio New Testament, based on the RSV-CE translation.

In 2012, he played the lead role of Stanley in the Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire.[12]

In 2013, Underwood played the role of Robert Ironside in the remake of the successful 1960s television series, Ironside, made famous by the late Raymond Burr.[13] The show was cancelled after three episodes.[14][15]

In 2016, Underwood was cast in the ABC thriller series Quantico for the series regular role of CIA Deputy Director, Owen Hall.[16]

Underwood was the featured guest of the 2018 BBCON Convention in Orlando, Florida for his humanitarian efforts, a technology focused event for social good.[17]

Personal life

Underwood is a part of several charitable organizations. He won the 1993 Humanitarian Award for his work with the Los Angeles chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 2003, along with Ashley Judd, he served as the spokesperson for YouthAIDS. In addition, he is involved with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Blair Underwood Clinic in Washington, DC.[18]

Underwood also appeared in a 2004 public service announcement for The Fulfillment Fund.[19] He is a Trustee for the Robey Theatre Company in Los Angeles, a non-profit theatre group founded by Danny Glover, focusing on plays about the Black experience.

He supported President Barack Obama's candidacy and spoke at campaign rallies for Obama. Underwood got to know Obama while researching his L.A. Law role at Harvard Law School, while Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review.[20]

Underwood's DNA test showed that he is a descendant of the Babungo people of Cameroon.[21] Additional DNA testing and genealogical research revealed that his African ancestry comes from the Bamum, Brong and lgbo ethnic groups of Western Africa.[22] The DNA test also connected Blair to a distant cousin in Babungo, Cameroon.[22]

On September 17, 1994, he married Desiree DaCosta, with whom he has four children, Paris, Brielle, Blake and Lexi Underwood.[23]



Year Film Role Notes
1985 Krush Groove Russell Walker
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Jonathan Rollins Television film
1989 The Cover Girl and the Cop Horace Bouchet Television film
1990 Murder in Mississippi James Chaney Television film
1990 Heat Wave Robert Richardson Television film
1992 The Second Coming Jesus Short film
1993 Posse Carver
1993 Father & Son: Dangerous Relations Jared Williams Television film
1995 Just Cause Bobby Earl
1996 Soul of the Game Jackie Robinson Television film
1996 Mistrial Lieutenant C. Hodges Television film
1996 Set It Off Keith Weston Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
1997 Gattaca Geneticist
1998 Asunder Chance Williams
1998 Deep Impact Mark Simon
1998 Mama Flora's Family Willie Television film
1999 The Wishing Tree Magic Man
2000 Rules of Engagement Capt. Lee NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
2002 Truth Be Told Det. Harris
2002 G Chip Hightower
2002 Full Frontal Nicholas/Calvin
2003 Malibu's Most Wanted Tom Gibbons
2004 Fronterz (unknown role)
2004 Do Geese See God? Man
2005 Straight Out of Compton 2 Hen Also producer
2005 The Golden Blaze Gregory Fletcher/The Golden Blaze Animated
2006 Something New Mark Harper
2006 Madea's Family Reunion Carlos
2006 Covert One: The Hades Factor Palmer Addison Television film
2007 Operation Homecoming Voice role
2007 The Hit Hen
2009 The Bridge to Nowhere Director
2011 The Art of Getting By Principal Bill Martinson
2011 I Will Follow Evan
2012 Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day David Ames
2012 The True Friendship or Not?.. Principal Bramble
2014 The Trip to Bountiful Ludie Watts Television film
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries
2018 The After Party Sgt. Ellison
2019 Juanita Blair Underwood


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Knight Rider Potts Episode: "Knight of the Juggernaut: Part 1"
1985 The Cosby Show Robert (Denise's Friend) Episode: "Jitterbug Break"
1985 The Cosby Show Mark Episode: "Theo and the Other Woman"
1985–1986 One Life to Live Bobby Blue Unknown episodes
1986–1987 Downtown Terry Corsaro 14 episodes
1987 Scarecrow and Mrs. King Stillman Episode: "All That Glitters"
1987 21 Jump Street Reginald Brooks Episode: "Gotta Finish the Riff"
1987–1994 L.A. Law Jonathan Rollins 149 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1991 A Different World Zelmer Collier Episode: "War and Peace"
1996–1997 High Incident Officer Michael Rhoades 22 episodes
2000 City of Angels Dr. Ben Turner 24 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
2003–2004 Sex and the City Dr. Robert Leeds 5 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2004–05)
2004–2005 Fatherhood Dr. Arthur Bindlebeep 24 episodes
2004–2005 LAX Roger De Souza 13 episodes
2006–2010 The New Adventures of Old Christine Mr. Harris 9 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2008–09)
2007 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Miles Sennett Episode: "Burned"
2007–2009 Dirty Sexy Money Simon Elder 20 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (2008–09)
2008 In Treatment Alex 9 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
2010–2011 The Event President Elias Martinez 22 episodes
2012 Superman of Tokyo Superman of Tokyo 2 episodes
2013 Thunder and Lightning Black Lightning 2 episodes
2013 Ironside Robert Ironside 9 episodes
2015–2016 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Andrew Garner 10 episodes
2016–present The Lion Guard Makuu (voice) 10 episodes
2016 The Good Wife Harry Dargis Episode: "Shoot"
2016–2018 Quantico Owen Hall 22 episodes

Video games


  • Before I Got Here: The Wondrous Things We Hear When We Listen to the Souls of Our Children (2005; editor, with Donyell Kennedy-McCullough (photographer))
  • The Tennyson Hardwick Novels:
    • Casanegra[24] (2007; with Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes)
    • In the Night of the Heat (2008; with Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes)
    • From Cape Town with Love (2010; with Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes)
    • South by Southeast (scheduled for September 2012; with Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes)

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1991 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film L.A. Law Nominated
1992 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Murder in Mississippi Won
1995 Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series L.A. Law Won
1997 Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Soul of the Game Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Set It Off Nominated
1999 Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Mama Flora's Family Won
2001 Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series City of Angels Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Rules of Engagement Won
2004 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Sex and the City Nominated
2005 Nominated
2008 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series The New Adventures of Old Christine Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Dirty Sexy Money Nominated
2009 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film In Treatment Nominated
Grammy Awards Best Spoken Word Album An Inconvenient Truth Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series In Treatment Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series The New Adventures of Old Christine Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Dirty Sexy Money Nominated
2011 Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series The Event Nominated
2014 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries The Trip to Bountiful Nominated
2015 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Won


  1. ^ The second coming. Artist: Jerry LaCroix, sound recording by Phonogram, Inc, The grains of paradise. Retrieved on August 25, 2013.
  2. ^ Blair Underwood Biography (1964–). Retrieved on August 25, 2013.
  3. ^ Brennan, Patricia (August 6, 1989). "Blair Underwood; 'Common Sense' Career Moves".
  4. ^ Stated on Who Do You Think You Are?, February 24, 2012
  5. ^ a b "NPR". A Conversation with Blair Underwood. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  6. ^ "Yahoo Movies". Blair Underwood Biography. Archived from the original on May 16, 2006. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  7. ^ "MovieWeb". NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit January Guest Star Appearances. Archived from the original on January 9, 2007. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  8. ^ "TV's 'Treatment' up for 5 Golden Globes". Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  9. ^ "". Biography for Blair Underwood. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  10. ^ "NBC Picks Up Three New Series for 2010–11 Season with 'The Event', 'Outsourced' and 'Love Bites'". The Futon Critic. May 7, 2010. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
  11. ^ Hibberd, James (May 16, 2010). "NBC's fall schedule, upfront revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. The Live Feed. Archived from the original on May 18, 2010. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
  12. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "A Streetcar Named Desire, With Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker, Extends Broadway Run". Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  13. ^ Harnick, Chris (May 13, 2013). "'Ironside': Blair Underwood Says Don't Call It A Remake". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  14. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Levin, Gary (October 18, 2013). "NBC yanks 'Ironside,' sets 'Community' return". USA Today.
  16. ^ Ausiello, Michael; Ausiello, Michael (July 5, 2016). "Quantico: Blair Underwood Joins Season 2 Cast as Series Regular". Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  17. ^ "Blackbaud Newsroom". Blackbaud.
  18. ^ "AIDS Healthcare Foundation". Archived from the original on February 23, 2013.
  19. ^ "". Difference. Archived from the original on March 19, 2006. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  20. ^ Kantor, Jodi (January 28, 2007). "In Law School, Obama Found Political Voice". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  21. ^ Underwood, Blair. "Testimonials:A welcome surprise that my people are from Nigeria & Ibo people". Archived from the original on December 19, 2008. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
  22. ^ a b Preview Blair Underwood.
  23. ^ "Much Ado About I Do".
  24. ^ ''Casanegra''. August 2007.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 April 2019, at 19:35
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