Courtney B. Vance

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Courtney B. Vance
Vance in 2013
Born
Courtney Bernard Vance

(1960-03-12) March 12, 1960 (age 64)
Education
OccupationActor
Years active1983–present
Spouse
(m. 1997)
Children2

Courtney Bernard Vance[citation needed] (born March 12, 1960[1]) is an American actor. He started his career on stage before moving to film and television. Vance has received various accolades, including a Tony Award and two Primetime Emmy Awards, as well as nominations for a Grammy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award.

Having trained at the Yale School of Drama, he soon made his Broadway debut the original production of August Wilson's Fences (1985), earning his first Tony Award nomination. He continued acting in theatre in John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation (1990) and Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy (2013), the later of which earned him a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.[2] He is known for his roles in films such as Hamburger Hill (1987), The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Tuskegee Airmen (1995), The Preacher's Wife (1996), Cookie's Fortune (1999), and Isle of Dogs (2018).

From 2001 to 2006 he portrayed Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver in the NBC series Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He earned Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie portraying Johnnie Cochran in the FX limited series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (2016), and for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for playing George Freeman in the HBO series Lovecraft Country (2020). He also played Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017) and C. L. Franklin in Genius: Aretha (2020).

He has been married to actress Angela Bassett since 1997. He is on the Board of Directors of The Actors Center in New York City, and is an active supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In 2019, he was appointed president of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

Early life and education[edit]

Vance was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Leslie Anita (née Daniels), a librarian, and Conroy Vance, a grocery store manager and benefits administrator.[3] He attended Detroit Country Day School[4] and later graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Harvard, he was already working as an actor at the Boston Shakespeare Company. He subsequently earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale School of Drama, where he met fellow student and future wife Angela Bassett.[5]

Career[edit]

1985–1999: Broadway debut and early roles[edit]

In 1985, Vance started his acting career on the stage as Cory in the Yale Repertory Theatre production of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award for Best Play-winning play Fences. From 1987 to 1988, Vance continued the role on Broadway opposite James Earl Jones where he won a Clarence Derwent Award and the Theatre World Award for his performance. He was also nominated for his first Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his role. Vance's film debut was in 1987 American war film, Hamburger Hill about the 1969 assault during the Vietnam War. During this time he had small roles in the CBS television film First Affair (1983), and the ABC drama Thirtysomething (1989), and Law & Order (1990). Vance played Thami Mbikwarna in the Athol Fugard play My Children! My Africa! at the New York Theatre Workshop from 1989 to 1990. In 1991, Vance returned to Broadway playing Paul in John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation. Vance played Paul, replacing James McDaniel who originated the role in the 1990 Off-Broadway production. Vance acted alongside John Cunningham and Stockard Channing. He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance at the 45th Tony Awards.

Throughout the 1990s, Vance continued acting in a variety of feature films such as The Hunt for Red October (1990), and The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993). In 1995, Vance played Black Panther Bobby Seale in the Melvin and Mario Van Peebles docudrama Panther. That same year, he also appeared in The Last Supper and Dangerous Minds. He also worked with acclaimed directors such as Robert Altman in Cookie's Fortune, Penny Marshall in The Preacher's Wife, and Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys. During the 1990s, Vance guest-starred in numerous television shows including Law & Order, Picket Fences, and Thirtysomething. In 1998 he acted in the Showtime television film Blind Faith he played John Williams. Vance earned critical acclaim with Janet Maslin of The New York Times describing his performance as "first rate".[6] He went on to receive a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead. He also starred in made-for-television films such as William Friedkin's 12 Angry Men (1997), in which he played the Foreman and acted alongside Ossie Davis, George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, Hume Cronyn, and James Gandolfini. In 1999, Vance also starred in and co-produced the romantic comedy Love and Action in Chicago.

2000–2015: Television roles and return to Broadway[edit]

From 2001 to 2006, Vance starred in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in which he played A.D.A. Ron Carver. He was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his performance. In 2008 and 2009, he guest-starred in the final season of ER alongside his wife Angela Bassett. He was also in Hurricane Season. On December 2, 2008, TV Guide reported that Vance had been cast as the Los Angeles bureau chief of the FBI in the ABC pilot FlashForward, based on a Robert J. Sawyer novel and slated to be a possible "companion show" to Lost.[7] In 2011, he starred in the American horror film Final Destination 5. Vance was tapped for the lead in the German-American apocalypse thriller The Divide. He appeared in the Disney Channel Original Movie Let It Shine, where he played the pastor Jacob Debarge, the main character's father, and co-starred with Tyler James Williams, Trevor Jackson, Coco Jones, Brandon Mychal Smith, and Dawnn Lewis. It was the third time Vance portrayed a pastor in a motion picture, after The Preacher's Wife and Joyful Noise). Vance has provided the voiceover for the National Football League's "You Want the NFL, Go to the NFL" television spots.[8]

He appeared as Chief Tommy Delk on the TNT series, The Closer, from 2010 to 2011 (Season 6–7). Vance also played the role of Attorney Benjamin Brooks on four episodes of ABC's Revenge. Vance returned to Broadway playing Hap Hairston in the Nora Ephron play Lucky Guy (2013) acting alongside Tom Hanks. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter praised Vance writing, "[He] is terrific as the whip-smart black editor who, even with the sharpest of professional skills, has had to stay on his toes to keep ahead in a white man’s game."[9] He won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as at the 67th Tony Awards.[10] In 2015, he portrayed Miles Dyson in Terminator Genisys opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke.[11]

2016–present: Career expansion[edit]

In 2016, he took on the role of famed civil rights lawyer Johnnie Cochran in FX's American Crime Story, which tells the story of the O. J. Simpson murder case.[12] The series premiered on February 2, 2016, and his performance was critically acclaimed, winning Vance numerous accolades including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, and the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries. He was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.[13][14][15] In 2017, he starred in the HBO television film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, where he played Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield opposite Oprah Winfrey's Deborah Lacks. In 2018, Vance narrated Wes Anderson's stop motion animated comedy Isle of Dogs. The same year, he appeared as Neil Beeby in the Peter Hedges film Ben Is Back, opposite Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges.

In 2019, Vance was appointed President of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.[16] In 2020, Vance was seen in HBO's drama series Lovecraft Country for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. He was cast opposite Niecy Nash in Prentice Penny's feature film directorial debut, the Netflix original movie Uncorked, released in 2020.[17] In 2021, he appeared in National Geographic's Genius: Aretha as C. L. Franklin. In 2023, Vance was cast in Disney's live-action reimagining of Lilo & Stitch as Cobra Bubbles.

Acting credits[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Year Title Role Venue
1985 Fences Cory Yale Repertory Theatre
1987–88 46th Street Theatre, Broadway
1989–90 My Children! My Africa! Thami Mbikwarna New York Theatre Workshop
1990–92 Six Degrees of Separation Paul Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Broadway
2013 Lucky Guy Hap Hairston Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1987 Hamburger Hill Spc. Abraham 'Doc' Johnson
1990 The Hunt for Red October Sonar Technician (Petty Officer 2nd Class) Jones
1993 The Adventures of Huck Finn Jim
Beyond the Law Conroy Price
1994 Holy Matrimony Cooper
1995 Panther Bobby Seale
Dangerous Minds George Grandey
The Tuskegee Airmen 2nd Lt. Glenn
The Last Supper Luke
1996 The Preacher's Wife Reverend Henry Biggs
1998 Blind Faith John Williams
Ambushed Jerry Robinson
1999 Cookie's Fortune Otis Tucker
Love and Action in Chicago Eddie Jones Also co-producer
2000 Space Cowboys Roger Hines
2002 D-Tox Reverend Jones Also known as Eye See You
2008 Nothing but the Truth Agent O'Hara
2009 Hurricane Season Mr. Randolph
2010 Extraordinary Measures Marcus Temple
2011 The Divide Delvin
Final Destination 5 Agent Jim Block
2012 Joyful Noise Pastor Dale
Let It Shine Pastor Jacob DeBarge
2015 Terminator Genisys Miles Dyson
2016 Office Christmas Party Walter Davis
2017 The Mummy Army Colonel Greenway
2018 Isle of Dogs Narrator (voice)
Ben Is Back Neal Burns
2020 The Photograph Louis Morton
Uncorked Louis
Project Power Captain Crane
2023 Heist 88 Jeremy Horne Also executive producer
TBA Lilo & Stitch Cobra Bubbles Filming

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1983 First Affair Male student Television film
1989 Thirtysomething Curtis Episode: "Trust Me"
1990 Law & Order Mayor's Assistant Episode: "By Hooker, by Crook"
Uncredited
1991 The Emperor's New Clothes Scribe (voice) Television film
1992 In the Line of Duty: Street War Justice Butler Television film
1993 Percy & Thunder Thunder Television film
1994 Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad Thomas Television film
1995 Law & Order Benjamin 'Bud' Greer Episode: "Rage"
The Piano Lesson Lymon Television film
Picket Fences Warren Grier 2 episodes
The Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Glenn Television film
The Affair Travis Holloway Television film
1996 The Boys Next Door Lucien P. Singer Television film
1997 12 Angry Men Foreman Television film
1998 Any Day Now Mr. James Jackson Episode: "Unfinished Symphony"
Naked City: Justice with a Bullet Officer James Halloran Television film
The Wild Thornberrys Makai (voice) Episode: "Naimina Enkiyio"
Naked City: A Killer Christmas Officer James Halloran Television film
2000 Boston Public Walter Harrelson 2 episodes
2001–06 Law & Order: Criminal Intent A.D.A. Ron Carver 111 episodes
2002 American Experience Dr. Vivien Thomas (voice) Episode: "Partners of the Heart"
Whitewash: The Clarence Brandley Story Clarence Brandley Television film
2004 American Experience Narrator (voice) Episode: "The Fight"
2007 State of Mind William Banks 3 episodes
2008–09 ER Russell Banfield 8 episodes
2009 The Spectacular Spider-Man Roderick Kingsley (voice) Episode: "Accomplices"
2009–10 FlashForward Stanford Wedeck 22 episodes
2010–11 The Closer Chief Tommy Delk 3 episodes
2012 Revenge Benjamin Brooks 4 episodes
Let It Shine Pastor Jacob DeBarge Television film
2013 Graceland Sam Campbell Episode: "Pilot"
2014–15 State of Affairs Marshall Payton 7 episodes
2014 Masters of Sex Dr. Charles Hendricks 3 episodes
2015 Scandal Clarence Parker Episode: "The Lawn Chair"
2016 The People v. O. J. Simpson:
American Crime Story
Johnnie Cochran 10 episodes
2017 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield Television film
2020 Lovecraft Country George Freeman 3 episodes
2021 Genius: Aretha C. L. Franklin 8 episodes
2022–23 61st Street Franklin Roberts 16 episodes
2023 The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder Merlin Kelly (voice) Episode: "The Soul Vibrations"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
1987 Clarence Derwent Award Most Promising Male Performer Fences Won
Theatre World Award Won
Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play Nominated
1991 Best Actor in a Play Six Degrees of Separation Nominated
1998 Independent Spirit Award Best Male Lead Blind Faith Nominated
2013 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play Lucky Guy Won
2016 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie The People v. O.J. Simpson Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Movie or Limited Series Won
Television Critics Association Award Individual Achievement in Drama Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie/Miniseries/Special Won
BET Awards BET Award for Best Actor on Television Nominated
2019 Grammy Award Best Spoken Word Album Accessory to War Nominated
2021 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Lovecraft Country Won
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Broadcast Network or Cable Series, Drama Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Television Movie Genius Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Nominated
2024 Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations Artist of the Year Himself Won[a]

Personal life[edit]

Marriage and family[edit]

Vance with Angela Bassett in 2007

Vance first met Angela Bassett in 1980, and the pair has been married since 1997. Together, they have twins, a son and a daughter, born in 2006. He and Bassett have authored a book, Friends: A Love Story, with Hilary Beard.[18] The two also participate in the annual Christmas celebration, Candlelight Processional, at Epcot. The family lives in Los Angeles.[19] On the PBS program Finding Your Roots,[20] Vance discovered that his father was born out of wedlock to 17-year-old Victoria Ardella Vance.

Interests[edit]

Vance is on the Board of Directors for The Actors Center in New York City, and is an active supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He is an alumnus of the Detroit Boys & Girls Club, and was recently inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.[21]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Vance, Courtney B.; Robin L. Smith; Charisse Jones (November 7, 2023). The Invisible Ache: Black Men Identifying Their Pain and Reclaiming Their Power. New York: Balance. ISBN 9781538725139. OCLC 1372393562.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ alongside his wife Angela Bassett

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mike Rose, cleveland com (March 12, 2024). "Famous birthdays list for today, March 12, 2024 includes celebrities Aaron Eckhart, Jaimie Alexander". cleveland. Retrieved June 2, 2024.
  2. ^ Semuels, Alana (June 9, 2013). "Tony Awards 2013: Courtney B. Vance glad he took a chance on 'Lucky Guy'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  3. ^ Gates Jr., Henry Louis (January 28, 2016). Finding Your Roots, Season 2: The Official Companion to the PBS Series. UNC Press Books. ISBN 9781469626192.
  4. ^ "Alumni E-Bee". Detroit Country Day School. 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  5. ^ Penn, Charli (October 12, 2011). "Black Love: Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance". Essence. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  6. ^ Maslin, Janet (February 26, 1999). "Film Review; Tragedy at Home and in the Courtroom for a Black Youth". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Who's on board for ABC's new sci-fi thriller?" TV Guide. December 2, 2008. Retrieved on December 3, 2008.
  8. ^ "For N.F.L., Split Seconds Become 30-Second Spots". The New York Times. August 6, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  9. ^ "Lucky Guy Review". The Hollywood Reporter. April 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  10. ^ Purcell, Carey (September 6, 2013). "Kinky Boots, Vanya and Sonia, Pippin and Virginia Woolf? Are Big Winners at 67th Annual Tony Awards". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  11. ^ "Preview: Here's a T-800 From 'Terminator Genisys'". Bloody Disgusting. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  12. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (February 5, 2015). "Courtney B. Vance Set as Johnnie Cochran in FX's 'American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  13. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (February 1, 2016). "Review: FX's compelling 'The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story'". HitFix. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  14. ^ Fienberg, Dan (January 19, 2016). "'The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  15. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (February 3, 2016). "The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, review: 'expertly executed entertainment'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  16. ^ "Courtney B. Vance appointed SAG-AFTRA President". sagaftra.foundation. November 5, 2019. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  17. ^ "Niecy Nash, Courtney B. Vance to Star in 'Uncorked' for Netflix". The Hollywood Reporter.
  18. ^ "Bassett and Vance Tell Their 'Love Story'", NPR, February 16, 2007; with Farai Chideya interview (43 min.) and excerpts/readings by authors. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  19. ^ Smith, Thomas (December 14, 2009). "Unique Perspective – 'Candlelight' at Disney's Epcot". Disney Parks. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  20. ^ "Courtney B. Vance" Archived May 1, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, pbs.org, September 23 (2014?). Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  21. ^ "Home >> About Us >> Alumni Hall of Fame >> Courtney B. Vance". Boys and Girls Club of America. Retrieved February 23, 2020.

External links[edit]