Courtney B. Vance

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Courtney B. Vance
Courtney B. Vance 2013.jpg
Vance in 2013
Born
Courtney Bernard Vance

(1960-03-12) March 12, 1960 (age 61)
Education
OccupationActor
Years active1983–present
Spouse(s)
(m. 1997)
Children2

Courtney Bernard Vance[1] (born March 12, 1960) is an American actor. Vance started his career on the Broadway stage in the original productions of August Wilson's Fences in 1985, John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation in 1990 and Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy in 2013 for which he won 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 Preacher's Wife (1996), Cookie's Fortune (1999), Terminator Genisys (2015), and Isle of Dogs (2018).

Vance is also known for work on television on shows such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent, where he played Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver. He also guest-starred on Law & Order, Picket Fences, The Closer, Revenge, Scandal, and Masters of Sex. He won acclaim for his portrayal of Johnnie Cochran in the FX limited series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (2016) for which he received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. He recently appeared in the HBO television film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017), National Geographic's limited series Genius: Aretha (2020), and the HBO drama series Lovecraft Country (2020) the latter of which he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.

He has been married to actress Angela Bassett since 1997. 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. In 2019, Vance was appointed as the President of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

Early life[edit]

Vance was born on March 12, 1960 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Leslie Anita (née Daniels), a librarian, and Conroy Vance, a grocery store manager and benefits administrator.[1][3] He attended Detroit Country Day School[4] and later graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While attending Harvard, Vance was already working as an actor at the Boston Shakespeare Company. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree later at Yale School of Drama where he met fellow student and future wife Angela Bassett.[5]

Career[edit]

1980s: Early work[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 for his performance. He was also nominated for 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.

1990s: Broadway and film roles[edit]

In 1991, Vance returned to Broadway playing Paul in John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation. He acted alongside John Cunningham and Stockard Channing. He was nominated for 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 also guest starred in numerous television shows including Law & Order, Picket Fences, and Thirtysomething. He also starred in made for television films such as Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men as the Foreman. There, Vance acted alongside Ossie Davis, George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, Hume Cronyn and James Gandolfini. In 1999, Vance also starred in Love and Action in Chicago, a romantic comedy which he also co-produced.

2000s: Television roles[edit]

From 2001 to 2006, Vance starred in Law & Order: Criminal Intent where 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.[6] 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. Vance 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 (the first being The Preacher's Wife and the second being Joyful Noise).

Vance has also provided the voiceover for the National Football League's "You Want the NFL, Go to the NFL" television spots.[7]

2010s: The People v. O.J. Simpson[edit]

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.[8] In 2015, he portrayed Miles Dyson in Terminator Genisys opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke.[9]

He won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Hap Hairston in Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy at the 67th Tony Awards (2013).[10]

In 2016, he took on the role of Johnnie Cochran in FX's American Crime Story, which tells the story of the O. J. Simpson murder case.[11] The series premiered on February 2, 2016, and his performance was critically acclaimed, winning Vance a Primetime Emmy Award.[12][13][14]

In 2017, he narrated Wes Anderson's stop motion animated comedy Isle of Dogs. That same year he also 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, he appeared as Neil Beeby in the Peter Hedges film Ben Is Back, opposite Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges.[15] He was cast opposite Niecy Nash in Prentice Penny's feature film directorial debut, the Netflix original movie Uncorked, released in 2020.[16]

In 2019, Vance was appointed President of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.[17]

In 2020, Vance was seen in HBO's drama series Lovecraft Country for which he earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series nomination. In 2021, he appeared in National Geographic's Genius: Aretha as C. L. Franklin.

Personal life[edit]

Vance with Angela Bassett in 2007

Vance is married to Angela Bassett, whom he first met in 1980. Together, they have twins, a son and a daughter, born on January 27, 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]

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.[20]

On the PBS program Finding Your Roots,[21] Vance discovered that his father was born out of wedlock to 17-year-old Victoria Ardella Vance.

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 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
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

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"
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
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 C. L. Franklin Miniseries

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
1987 Clarence Derwent Award Most Promising Male Performer Fences Won
Theatre World Awards Theatre World Award Won
Drama Desk Award Theatre World Award Won
1987 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play Nominated
1991 Best Actor in a Play Six Degrees of Separation Nominated
2013 Best Featured Actor in a Play Lucky Guy Won
2016 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series 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
2021 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Lovecraft Country Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Courtney Vance Biography (1960–)". Film Reference. 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  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. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  6. ^ Who's on board for ABC's new sci-fi thriller?" TV Guide. December 2, 2008. Retrieved on December 3, 2008.
  7. ^ "For N.F.L., Split Seconds Become 30-Second Spots". The New York Times. August 6, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  8. ^ "Revenge (TV Series 2011– ) - Full Cast & Crew". IMDb. 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  9. ^ "Preview: Here's a T-800 From 'Terminator Genisys'". Bloody Disgusting. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  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. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (February 1, 2016). "Review: FX's compelling 'The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story'". HitFix. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  13. ^ Fienberg, Dan (January 19, 2016). "'The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  14. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (February 3, 2016). "The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, review: 'expertly executed entertainment'". The Telegraph. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  15. ^ "Ben Is Back (2018)" – via www.imdb.com.
  16. ^ "Niecy Nash, Courtney B. Vance to Star in 'Uncorked' for Netflix". The Hollywood Reporter.
  17. ^ "Courtney B. Vance appointed SAG-AFTRA President". sagaftra.foundation. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  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. ^ "Home >> About Us >> Alumni Hall of Fame >> Courtney B. Vance". Boys and Girls Club of America. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  21. ^ "Courtney B. Vance", pbs.org, September 23 (2014?). Retrieved 2016-08-17.

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