Jeffrey Wright

Published December 15, 2010

Critically acclaimed actor, Jeffrey Wright, continually pushes the boundaries of his craft with inspiring and celebrated performances in an illustrious career that has spanned the worlds of theatre, film and television.

Wright currently stars as the title character in John Guare’s “A Free Man of Color” at Lincoln Center, directed by longtime Wright collaborator George C. Wolfe. The play, a sprawling historical comedy intertwined with hints of tragedy, is set in French Louisiana in the decades before the American Civil War. Wright can next be seen in Summit Entertainment’s sci-fi drama “Source Code,” directed by Duncan Jones. The film is set for a spring 2011 release.

In 1994, Wright, a gifted stage actor, received a Tony® Award, Drama Desk Award, and the Outer Critics' Circle Award for his portrayal of the outspoken nurse, ‘Belize,’ in Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic, “Angels In America,” directed by George C. Wolfe. Wright reprised the role in HBO's 2003 mini-series of the play, directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Meryl Streep and Al Pacino. Wright earned both a Golden Globe® and Emmy® for his groundbreaking performance.

On film, Wright has portrayed a stunning array of icons and iconoclasts. Wright's brilliant portrayal of the renowned and controversial graffiti artist, Jean Michel Basquiat, in the 1996 film, “Basquiat,” received widespread praise from critics and earned him an Independent Spirit Award® nomination. On the other end of the spectrum, Wright took on the role of
‘Felix Leiter’ in the 2006 and 2008 James Bond films, “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace” and in 2005, co-starred in director Stephen Gaghan's award-winning film “Syriana,” with Matt Damon, Chris Cooper and George Clooney.

Additional credits include Jonathan Demme's remake of “The Manchurian Candidate” opposite Denzel Washington; “The Invasion,” co-starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig; M. Night Shyamalan's “Lady in the Water” with Paul Giamatti; Jim Jarmusch's “Broken Flowers,” opposite Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Sharon Stone; “Ali,” co-starring Will Smith and Jamie Foxx; and as ‘Peoples Hernandez’ in the successful remake of the iconic 70's movie “Shaft,” also starring Samuel L. Jackson and Christian Bale. Wright also starred on HBO in George C. Wolfe's “Lackawanna Blues” and in “Boycott,” in which his portrayal of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. earned him an AFI award. Wright starred in 2008 as Muddy Waters in “Cadillac Records,” a film that chronicles the rise and fall of the legendary blues label, Chess
Records. The film co-starred Beyoncé as Etta James, Mos Def as Chuck Berry and Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess. He also starred in Oliver Stone's biopic “W.” as former Secretary of State Colin Powell to Josh Brolin's President George W. Bush.

Wright has developed a rich stage résumé frequently collaborating with George C. Wolfe since they first worked together on “Angels in America.” He earned an Obie award and a Tony nomination for his turn in Suzan-Lori Parks “Topdog/Underdog,” directed by Wolfe, in which he starred as ‘Lincoln’ at the Public Theatre, Broadway's Ambassador Theatre, and at the Royale Court Theatre in London. Wright also starred on Broadway in Wolfe's musical ode to African-American history, “Bring in da Noise Bring in da Funk,” and received stellar reviews for his interpretation of Marc Antony in the NY Shakespeare Festival's Central Park production of “Julius Caesar.” Additional stage credits include “Les Blancs,” “Juno & The Paycock” and “She Stoops to Conquer” at the Arena Stage Theatre in Washington, D.C., as
well as “Playboy of the West Indies,” “Daylight in Exile” and “Search and Destroy” at the Yale Reparatory Theatre.

Born in Washington, D.C., Wright graduated from Amherst College, receiving a B.A. in political science in1987 and earned a doctorate of humane letters from his alma mater in 2004. In addition to acting, Wright is active in economic development projects in Africa as chairman of Taia, LLC and Taia Peace Foundation and through his work as a board member of the non-profit organization, All for Africa. He serves on the board of directors of the Tribeca Film Institute and on the governing board of his alma mater the St. Albans School for Boys.

Wright resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, actress Carmen Ejogo, and their two children.

Written by BET-Staff


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