Wendell Pierce

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Wendell Pierce
WendellPierceJan07.jpg
Pierce in January 2007
Born Wendell Edward Pierce
(1966-12-08) December 8, 1966 (age 47)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Education Juilliard School (BFA 1985)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1986–present

Wendell Edward Pierce (born December 8, 1966) is an American actor, best known for his work in HBO dramas, including his portrayals of Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire, trombonist Antoine Batiste in Treme and "Michael Davenport" in Waiting to Exhale.

Early life & education[edit]

Pierce was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of three sons born to a teacher and a decorated World War II veteran who worked as a maintenance engineer.[1] His father's segregated Army unit helped U.S. Marines win the Battle of Saipan in 1944. Pierce said of his father's experience:

“When the country wasn’t loving my father, my father was loving his country. It’s the ultimate act of patriotism.”[2]

Pierce was raised in the black middle-class community of Pontchartrain Park. It was the first African-American post-war suburb. His father, along with many black veterans, bought into the neighborhood after returning home from the war. The neighborhood was wiped out during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, including Pierce's family home, which was flooded with 14 feet of water.[3][4]

After first attending Benjamin Franklin High School, Pierce graduated from the New Orleans Centre for Creative Arts (along with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., and Lolis Eric Elie) where he was a Presidential Scholar of the Arts.[5] As a young actor, Pierce appeared in The Winter’s Tale at the Tulane Shakespeare Festival. He produced and hosted Think About It, a youth themed talk show, for the local NBC affiliate station, and also hosted a weekly jazz show on WYLD-FM RADIO called "Extensions from Congo Square."[6]

He then attended the Juilliard School's Drama Division (Group 14: 1981–1985) where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.[7][8]

Career[edit]

Pierce has been in over 30 films, appeared in nearly 50 television shows and has performed in dozens of stage productions. He worked on the HBO dramas The Wire and Treme. He appeared in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 as "J. Jenks".[citation needed]

For his role in Treme, Pierce learned to play the trombone, though relies on “sound double”, Stafford Agee, of the Rebirth Brass Band. Agee actually records the music, while Pierce shadows the sound.[3]

Pierce was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead for his portrayal of "Joe" in Four, playing a married, closeted gay man who steps out on his family with a young white man he met online. The film was released on September 13, 2013, around the same time that The Michael J. Fox Show debuted on NBC, in which Pierce played Michael J. Fox's character's boss until the show's cancellation some five months later.[9][10]

Feature Film[edit]

Year Title Role Director Notes
1986 The Money Pit Paramedic Richard Benjamin
1989 Casualties of War MacIntire Brian De Palma with Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox
1989 Family Business Prosecutor Sidney Lumet with Sean Connery and Dustin Hoffman
1990 A Matter of Degrees Wells Dennard W.T. Morgan
1991 A Rage in Harlem Louis Bill Duke with Forest Whitaker and Danny Glover
1992 Malcolm X Ben Thomas Spike Lee with Denzel Washington
1993 Manhattan Murder Mystery Policeman Woody Allen
1994 It Could Happen to You Bo Williams Andrew Bergman with Nicolas Cage
1995 Bye Bye Love Hector Sam Weisman with Rob Reiner
1995 Hackers Agent Dick Gill Iain Softley with Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller
1995 Waiting to Exhale Michael Davenport Forest Whitaker with Lela Rochon
1996 Get on the Bus Wendell Spike Lee
1996 Sleepers Little Caesar Barry Levinson with Brad Pitt, Jason Patric and Robert De Niro
1998 Bulworth Fred Warren Beatty with Don Cheadle and Halle Berry
1999 The 24 Hour Woman Roy Labelle Nancy Savoca with Rosie Perez, Melissa Leo and Chris Cooper
1999 Shadows of the Past (aka Abilene) Reverend Tillis Joe Camp III
2002 Brown Sugar Simon Rick Famuyiwa with Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan
2003 The Fighting Temptations Reverend Lewis Jonathan Lynn
2004 A Hole in One Dan Richard Ledes with Michelle Williams
2004 Land of Plenty Henry Wim Wenders with Michelle Williams
2004 Ray Wilbur Brassfield Taylor Hackford with Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington
2006 Stay Alive Detective Thibodeaux William Brent Bell with Adam Goldberg, produced by McG
2007 I Think I Love My Wife Sean Chris Rock with Kerry Washington
2010 Night Catches Us David Gordon Tanya Hamilton with Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington
2010 Love Ranch Naasih Mohammed Taylor Hackford with Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci
2011 The Mortician Wendell Simms Gareth Maxwell Roberts
2011 Horrible Bosses Detective Hagan Seth Gordon with Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey
2011 Foreclosure Actor Richard Ledes
2012 Lay the Favorite Dave the Rave Stephen Frears with Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones
2012 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 J. Jenks Bill Condon with Kristen Stewart
2013 Parker Carlson Taylor Hackford with Jason Statham
2013 Möbius Bob Éric Rochant with Jean Dujardin and Tim Roth
2013 Four Joe Joshua Sanchez Independent Spirit Award Nomination
2015 Selma Hosea Williams Ava DuVernay
2015 The Runner

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Episode(s) Notes
1987 Vietnam War Story French "The Pass"
1989 A Man Called Hawk Derrick West "Never My Love" with Angela Bassett
1988-1989 The Equalizer Dr. Wolff ""The Last Campaign", "Starfire"
1990 Capital News Conrad White All Episodes
1991 General Motors Playwrights Theater Sergeant Kelly "Avenue Z Afternoon"
1991 The 10 Million Dollar Getaway Parnell "Stacks" Edwards TV Movie
1991 I'll Fly Away Charles "Coming Home"
1992 Law & Order Chief Ola-Gimju Nwaka "Consultation"
1992 Unnatural Pursuits Cabbie "I Don't Do Cuddles"
1993 Strapped District Attorney TV Movie, directed by Forest Whitaker
1995 Law & Order Jerome Bryant "Rage"
1995 New York News Jesus "The Using Game"
1996 New York Undercover Dr. Anthony Fisher "Bad Blood"
1996 Never Give Up: The Jimmy V Story John Saunders TV Movie
1996-1997 Maloney DA Calvin Patterson 5 Episodes
1997 413 Hope Taffy Pilot Episode
1997 The Advocate's Devil Justin TV Movie
1997-1998 The Gregory Hines Show Carl Stevenson All Episodes
1999 The Expert Dr. Worseley Pilot Episode
1999 Law & Order Mr. Wade "Disciple"
1998-2000 The Brian Benben Show Kevin La Rue 7 Episodes
2000 God, the Devil and Bob Voice Only "In the Beginning", "Date from Hell"
2000 Third Watch Officer Conrad 'Candyman' Jones 5 Episodes
2000 City of Angels Norbert Grimly "Straight Flush"
2001 My Wife and Kids Dr. Boucher Pilot Episode
2000-2001 The Weber Show/Cursed Wendell Simms All Episodes Show name change in middle of season
2002 Girlfriends Anthony Jackson "Childs in Charge"
2004 Judging Amy Harry Benton "Sins of the Father"
2004 Law & Order Roger Porter "Gunplay"
2004 Law & Order: Trial by Jury Dr. Richard Link "The Line", "Eros in the Upper Eighties"
2006 Close to Home Sam Carter "Prodigal Son"
2007 Life Support Slick TV Movie, with Queen Latifah, NAACP Image Award Win
2007 The Wire: The Chronicles Det. William 'Bunk' Moreland "2000: Bunk and McNulty"
2002-2008 The Wire Det. William 'Bunk' Moreland Entire Series 2 NAACP Image Awards Nominations
2008 Women's Murder Club Bill Schroeder "Father's Day"
2008 In Plain Sight Dr. Warren McBride/Warren Morris "It Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
2008 House of Payne Jeffrey Lucas "The Last Supper", "We've Come this Far by Faith: Part 2"
2007-2008 Numb3rs William Bradford 4 Episodes
2009 Fear Itself Wiilbur Orwell "Something with Bite"
2009 Hawthorne Michael Schilling "Trust Me"
2009 Drop Dead Diva Neal David "Grayson's Anatomy"
2010 Tim & Eric Awesome Show Detective "Re-Animated"
2010-2013 Treme Antoine Batiste Entire Series
2013-2014 Suits Robert Zane 5 episodes Recurring Role
2013–2014 The Michael J. Fox Show Harris Green Regular cast
2014 Ray Donovan Mr. Keith
Pierce with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake after a Saints loss to the Ravens in Baltimore, December 2010

Stage[edit]

Pierce has been in numerous stage productions. He was lauded for his performance as Holt Fay in Queenie at the John F. Kennedy Center. He has performed on Broadway in staged productions of The Piano Lesson, Serious Money and The Boys of Winter. He has performed off Broadway in The Cherry Orchard (for which he was nominated for a VIV Award for Lead Actor, Waiting for Godot (which was set on a New Orleans rooftop post-Hurricane Katrina, and Broke-ology, performed at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.[11]

Other performances include Cymbeline (at The Public Theater), The Good Times Are Killing Me, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Tis Pity She's a Whore and Ms. Ever's Boys performed at the ACT Theatre.

Pierce is also a theater producer, having produced the Broadway show, Clybourne Park. The show was nominated for four Tony Awards. It went on to win the Tony Award for Best Play in 2012. [12]

Radio[edit]

In 2009, Pierce became the host of the nationally syndicated, Peabody Award-winning radio program, Jazz at Lincoln Center, which features live recordings from Jazz at Lincoln Center's House of Swing.

Business & Philanthropy[edit]

Pierce considers himself a "true capitalist" and a "classic entrepreneur."[3][4]

In 2013, Fast Company named Pierce one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business."[13]

Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp.[edit]

Pierce started the non-profit, Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp., to build new affordable solar and geothermal homes in the area for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.[14]

Sterling Farms[edit]

Inspired in part by Michelle Obama's initiative to bring more supermarkets to “food deserts” – where residents lack easy access to fresh produce – Pierce, along with 2 partners (Troy Henry and James Hatchett), started a chain of grocery stores, Sterling Farms, in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans in 2012.[15] Sterling Farms also has a convenience store division called "Sterling Express." The stores are named after Sterling Henry, his business partner's father who ran a pharmacy for about 40 years at the Lower 9th Ward.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Pierce is "tri-coastal", splitting his time between L.A., New York and New Orleans.[17] New Orleans locals nicknamed him "Saints Wendell."[15]

He attended the 2012 Democratic National Convention, was one of President Barack Obama's top campaign fundraisers in 2012 (along with Harvey Weinstein and Eva Longoria), and once escorted Gwen Ifil to a White House State Dinner.[4][18][19]

When first cast in The Wire, Pierce and his cast mates doubted the show would be a hit:

"I remember the first time we all sat around and watched the pilot. We all turned to each other and said, ‘Man, I don't think this s--- is going anywhere.'"[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Wendell Pierce profile". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  2. ^ "Seen and Heard in New York: Wendell Pierce, Cory Booker, Alan Rickman". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  3. ^ a b c "Pierce's New Orleans". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  4. ^ a b c "Why "Treme" Star Wendell Pierce is Getting into the Supermarket Business". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  5. ^ Associated Press (2008). "Actor wants to revive Pontchartrain Park". KATC Channel 3. Archived from the original on 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  6. ^ "Wendell Pierce Award Winning Actor and President of the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp.". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  7. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. 
  8. ^ "Wendell Pierce". All Movie Guide. The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Controversial Award-Winning Film". Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  10. ^ "NBC Announces Fall Premiere Dates for New Season". The Futon Critic. June 21, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Cast: Wendell Pierce". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  12. ^ "New Orleans Natives Bring Home Tony Award". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  13. ^ "100 Most Creative People in Business 2013 Business". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  14. ^ "Exploring the Big Easy: Wendell Pierce, Hometown Hero". Pool & Spa News. Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c "Treme's Wendell Pierce". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  16. ^ "Wendell Pierce on "The Wire", "Treme" and Food". NPR. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  17. ^ "New Orleans' Favorite Son". Scene Magazine. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  18. ^ Tran, Vivyan (September 7, 2012). "Celebrities spotted at the Democratic National Convention". Politico. 
  19. ^ "Obama Campaign Releases List of Top Campaign Fundraisers". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 

External links[edit]