Pierce in 2007.
December 8, 1966 |
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Wendell Edward Pierce (born December 8, 1966) is an American actor. He is best known for his roles in HBO dramas, such as Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire, trombonist Antoine Batiste in Treme, and Michael Davenport in Waiting to Exhale.
Pierce was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of three sons of a teacher and a decorated World War II veteran who worked as a maintenance engineer. His father's segregated Army unit helped 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."
Pierce was raised in the black middle-class community of Pontchartrain Park, the first African-American post-war suburb. His father, along with many black veterans, moved 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.
After attending Benjamin Franklin High School, Pierce graduated from the New Orleans Centre for Creative Arts, where he was a Presidential Scholar of the Arts. As a young actor, he 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.
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".
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.
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.
|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–||Suits||Robert Zane||5 episodes||Recurring Role|
|2013–2014||The Michael J. Fox Show||Harris Green||Regular cast|
|2014||Ray Donovan||Ronald Keith||2nd season||Recurring Role|
|2015||The Odd Couple||Teddy||Regular cast|
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.
In 2015, Pierce returned to the stage to star in the Billie Holiday Theatre production of Jackie Alexander's Brothers from the Bottom in New York. 
Business and philanthropy
Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp.
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. 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.
Pierce describes himself as "tri-coastal", splitting his time between Los Angeles, New York City, and New Orleans. He is a supporter of the New Orleans Saints, and locals have nicknamed him "Saints Wendell". He is also an avid supporter of St. Patrick's Athletic FC.
Pierce 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.
When first cast in The Wire, Pierce and his castmates 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 shit is going anywhere.'"
- "Wendell Pierce profile". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Seen and Heard in New York: Wendell Pierce, Cory Booker, Alan Rickman". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Pierce's New Orleans". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Why "Treme" Star Wendell Pierce is Getting into the Supermarket Business". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- Associated Press (2008). "Actor wants to revive Pontchartrain Park". KATC Channel 3. Archived from the original on 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
- "Wendell Pierce Award Winning Actor and President of the Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp.". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11.
- "Wendell Pierce". All Movie Guide. The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
- "Controversial Award-Winning Film". Retrieved 2013-07-22.
- "NBC Announces Fall Premiere Dates for New Season". The Futon Critic. June 21, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
- "Cast: Wendell Pierce". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "New Orleans Natives Bring Home Tony Award". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- Chang, Lia. "Photos: Wendell Pierce, Kevin Mambo, Toccarra Cash, Thaddeus Daniels, Wendell Franklin and Megan Robinson in The Billie Holiday Theatre Production of Jackie Alexander’s Brothers from the Bottom through March 29". BackstagePasswithLiaChang.com, March 7, 2015
- "100 Most Creative People in Business 2013 Business". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Exploring the Big Easy: Wendell Pierce, Hometown Hero". Pool & Spa News. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
- "Treme's Wendell Pierce". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Wendell Pierce on "The Wire", "Treme" and Food". NPR. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
- "New Orleans' Favorite Son". Scene Magazine. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
- "‘Bunk’ from The Wire revels in St Pats’ FAI Cup triumph". Retrieved 2014-11-02.
- Tran, Vivyan (September 7, 2012). "Celebrities spotted at the Democratic National Convention". Politico.
- "Obama Campaign Releases List of Top Campaign Fundraisers". Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- Wendell Pierce at the Internet Movie Database
- Wendell Pierce Opens Up About 'Treme', Jazz and New Orleans (interview with Wendell Pierce); accessed May 3, 2014.