Blair Underwood

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Blair Underwood
Underwood at the premiere for Earth in April 2009
Born Blair Erwin Underwood
(1964-08-25) August 25, 1964 (age 49)
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
Occupation actor, director
Years active 1985–present
Spouse(s) Desiree DaCosta (1994–present; three children)

Blair Erwin Underwood[1] (born August 25, 1964) is an American television, film, and stage actor and director. He played headstrong 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 on The New Adventures of Old Christine, Dirty Sexy Money and In Treatment and was in NBC's The Event.[2]

Early life[edit]

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.[3][4][5] Because of his father's military career, Underwood lived on bases and Army Posts in the United States and Stuttgart, Germany, during his childhood.[6] 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

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.

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[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

Underwood has received three 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 and Mama Flora's Family. 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".[10] 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.[11][12] 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.[13] In 2013, Underwood played the role of Robert Ironside in the remake of the successful 1960's television series, Ironside, made famous by the late Raymond Burr.[14] The show was NBC’s lowest-rated fall drama debut ever in the key demographic and was cancelled after three episodes.[15][16]

Personal life[edit]

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.[17]

Underwood also appeared in a 2004 public service announcement for The Fulfillment Fund.[18] 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.[19]

Underwood's DNA test showed that he is a descendant of the Babungo people of Cameroon.[20] Additional DNA testing and genealogical research revealed that his African ancestry comes from the Bamum, Brong and lgbo ethnic groups of Western Africa.[21] The DNA test also connected Blair to a distant cousin in Babungo, Cameroon.[21]

On September 17, 1994, he married Desiree DaCosta, with whom he has three children, Paris, Brielle, and Blake.[10]



Year Film Role Notes
1985 Krush Groove Russell Walker
1992 Second Coming, TheThe Second Coming Jesus Also director
1993 Posse Carver
1995 Just Cause Bobby Earl
1996 Mistrial Lieutenant C. Hodges
1996 Set It Off Keith Weston
1997 Gattaca Geneticist
1998 Asunder Chance Williams
1998 Deep Impact Mark Simon
1999 Wishing Tree, TheThe Wishing Tree Magic Man
2000 Rules of Engagement Capt. Lee
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 Golden Blaze, TheThe Golden Blaze Gregory Fletcher/The Golden Blaze Animated
2006 Something New Mark Harper
2006 Madea's Family Reunion Carlos
2007 Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience Voice role
2007 Hit, TheThe Hit Hen
2009 The Bridge to Nowhere Director
2011 Art of Getting By, TheThe Art of Getting By Principal Bill Martinson
2011 I Will Follow Unknown
2012 Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day David Ames
2012 True Friendship or Not?.., TheThe True Friendship or Not?.. Principal Bramble Soon Releasing


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Knight Rider Potts
1985 Cosby Show, TheThe Cosby Show Robert (Denise's Friend) Uncredited
1985 Cosby Show, TheThe Cosby Show Mark
1985–86 One Life to Live Bobby Blue
1986–87 Downtown Terry Corsaro
1987 Scarecrow and Mrs. King Stillman
1987 21 Jump Street Reginald Brooks
1987–94 L.A. Law Jonathan Rollins
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Jonathan Rollins Television special
1989 Cover Girl and the Cop, TheThe Cover Girl and the Cop Horace Bouchet Television film
1990 Murder in Mississippi James Chaney Television film
1990 Heat Wave Robert Richardson Television film
1991 Different World, AA Different World Zelmer Collier
1993 Story of a People Host Miniseries
1993 Father & Son: Dangerous Relations Jared Williams Television film; also associate producer
1996 Soul of the Game Jackie Robinson Television film
1996–97 High Incident Michael Rhoades
1998 Mama Flora's Family Willie Miniseries
2000 City of Angels Dr. Ben Turner
2003–04 Sex and the City Dr. Robert Leeds
2004–05 Fatherhood Dr. Arthur Bindlebeep Animated
2004–05 LAX Roger De Souza
2006 Covert One: The Hades Factor Palmer Addison Miniseries
2006–08 New Adventures of Old Christine, TheThe New Adventures of Old Christine Mr. Harris
2007 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Miles Sennett
2007 Dirty Sexy Money Simon Elder
2008 In Treatment Alex HBO series
2010–11 Event, TheThe Event President Elias Martinez Main cast
2012 Superman of Tokyo Superman of Tokyo Animated
2013 Thunder and Lightning Black Lightning Animated
2013 Ironside Robert Ironside Main cast

Video games[edit]


  • 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[22] (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)


  • Golden Globes
    • 2009, Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series or Mini-Series or Television Special: In Treatment (Nominated)
    • 1991, Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series or Mini-Series or Television Special: L.A. Law (Nominated)
  • Grammy Awards
    • 2009, Best Spoken Word Album: An Inconvenient Truth (Winner)
  • Image Awards
    • 2011, Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: The Event (Nominated)
    • 2009, Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: In Treatment (Nominated)
    • 2009, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Dirty, Sexy, Money (Nominated)
    • 2009, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: The New Adventures of Old Christine (Nominated)
    • 2008, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Dirty, Sexy, Money (Nominated)
    • 2008, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: The New Adventures of Old Christine (Nominated)
    • 2005, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Sex & the City (Nominated)
    • 2004, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Sex & the City (Nominated)
    • 2001, Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: City of Angels (Winner)
    • 2001, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Rules of Engagement (Winner)
    • 1999, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: Mamma's Flora's Family (Winner)
    • 1997, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: Soul of the Game (Nominated)
    • 1997, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Set It Off (Nominated)


  1. ^ The second coming. Artist: Jerry LaCroix, sound recording by Phonogram, Inc, The grains of paradise. Retrieved on August 25, 2013.
  2. ^ "Blair Underwood for President! NBC The Event Series Trailer and Jet Magazine Cover!". August 30, 2010. 
  3. ^ Blair Underwood Biography (1964–). Retrieved on August 25, 2013.
  4. ^ Brennan, Patricia (August 6, 1989). "Blair Underwood; 'Common Sense' Career Moves". 
  5. ^ Stated on Who Do You Think You Are?, February 24, 2012
  6. ^ a b "NPR". A Conversation with Blair Underwood. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Yahoo Movies". Blair Underwood Biography. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  8. ^ "MovieWeb". NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit January Guest Star Appearances. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "". Biography for Blair Underwood. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  11. ^ "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. 
  12. ^ Hibberd, James (May 16, 2010). "NBC's fall schedule, upfront revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 16, 2010. 
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "A Streetcar Named Desire, With Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker, Extends Broadway Run". Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Harnick, Chris (May 13, 2013). "'Ironside': Blair Underwood Says Don't Call It A Remake". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  15. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ Levin, Gary (October 18, 2013). "NBC yanks 'Ironside,' sets 'Community' return". USA Today. 
  17. ^ "AIDS Healthcare Foundation". 
  18. ^ "". Difference. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  19. ^ Kantor, Jodi (January 28, 2007). "In Law School, Obama Found Political Voice". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2008. 
  20. ^ Underwood, Blair. "Testimonials:A welcome surprise that my people are from Nigeria & Ibo people". Retrieved November 23, 2008. 
  21. ^ a b Preview Blair Underwood.
  22. ^ ''Casanegra''. August 2007.

External links[edit]