Stephen Henderson (actor)

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Stephen Henderson
Henderson presenting at Amherst Central High School on March 29, 2018
Stephen McKinley Henderson

(1949-08-31) August 31, 1949 (age 69)
EducationLincoln University, Missouri
Juilliard School
North Carolina School of the Arts (BFA)
Purdue University, West Lafayette (MA)
OccupationActor, director, educator
Years active1979—present

Stephen McKinley Henderson (born August 31, 1949) is an American actor.[1] He is known primarily for his work onstage, notably in several of August Wilson's plays, and he has made appearances in film and TV.

Life and career[edit]

Henderson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Ruby Naomi and Elihue Henderson.[2] He spent a year at Lincoln University, Missouri and was originally part of Group 1 at the Juilliard School Drama Division before he left. He finished his BFA in Acting at the North Carolina School of the Arts (1972). He later studied at Purdue University where he received his Master of Arts in Theatre (1977). He also spent summer sessions at Rose Bruford College in London and William Esper Studios in New York City.[3]

Henderson is known for his role as Arthur in the acclaimed HBO film Everyday People.[4] Other film credits include White House servant William Slade in Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln (2012), Lester in the film Tower Heist (2011), Bobo in A Raisin in the Sun (1989), Cooper's husband in the TV movie Marie (1985), and roles in the films Keane (2004), If You Could Say It in Words (2008) and Lady Bird (2017). In addition to his films, Henderson was a series regular on the FOX series New Amsterdam, which premiered in early 2008.

Henderson is known mostly for his stage work. Most recently, he won the 2015 Obie Award for Best Actor for his starring role of Walter "Pops" Washington in the Atlantic Theatre Company and Second Stage productions of the Pulitzer Prize winning play Between Riverside and Crazy.[5] He portrayed Jim Bono in the Broadway revival of August Wilson's Fences, starring Denzel Washington, for which Henderson received a Tony nomination as a supporting actor, as well as the Richard Seff Award from Actor's Equity; he reprised the role in Washington's 2016 film adaptation. Also in 2016, Henderson appeared in Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, playing the boss of Affleck's character. Previously, he appeared as Van Helsing in the Broadway production of Dracula, the Musical. Most recently, he played the role of Father Leviatch in Greta Gerwig's 2017 film Lady Bird. On Broadway, he has performed in Drowning Crow, the revival of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and the premiere of King Hedley II. Henderson is recognized as a veteran performer of August Wilson's oeuvre.[6]

His signature August Wilson role is the gossipy Turnbo in Jitney for which he won a Drama Desk Award. He had created the role in the 1996 premiere at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, then honed it (as Wilson was honing the script) in other regional theaters before its arrival Off-Broadway in 2000. But having missed the Tony Award (which is limited to Broadway), he and the core of the cast took Jitney to London where it won the 2002 Olivier Award for best new play. In addition, he appeared in A Raisin in the Sun and directed Zooman and the Sign. With the LAByrinth Theatre Company, he portrayed Pontius Pilate in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

Television work includes Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Newsroom, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, Third Watch, New Amsterdam and Blue Bloods.[7]

His work as an actor, director, and educator has been documented in the book Acting Teachers of America and in the Oxford University Press African American National Biography. . In the summer of 2001, Henderson was part of a master class taught by Lloyd Richards at the Actor’s Center, NYC. He continued to study with Mr. Richards on a grant from the Fox Foundation. The Actor’s Center master class is featured in filmmaker Michael Schultz’ documentary on Mr. Richards.

Henderson is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Theatre and Dance for The State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a Fox Foundation Fellow, a Ten Chimneys Master Teachers Fellow, a recipient of the Woodie King Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award from The St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre and Distinguished Alumnus of Purdue University Graduate School, College of Liberal Arts. He was the 2016 Denzel Washington Endowed Chair at Fordham University and regularly teaches master classes for Juilliard Drama Division’s Third Year students. Henderson delivered the commencement address and received Juilliard’s Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, May 19, 2017.



Year Title Role(s) Notes
1979 A Pleasure Doing Business Bank Teller
1985 Marie Cooper's Husband
2004 Everyday People Arthur
2004 Keane Garage Employee
2006 Waltzing Anna Pete
2009 The Good Heart Psychiatrist
2011 Tower Heist Lester
2012 Red Hook Summer Deacon Yancy
2012 Lincoln William Slade
2014 Da Sweet Blood of Jesus Deacon Yancy
2014 The Romans Birdman
2016 Manchester by the Sea Mr. Emery
2016 The American Side Stickney
2016 All at Once Robert
2016 Fences Jim Bono
2017 Lady Bird Father Leviatch
2019 Native Son Mr. Green
2020 Dune TBA Filming


  1. ^ Stephen McKinley Henderson.
  2. ^ Stephen Henderson Biography (1949–). Retrieved on September 23, 2016.
  3. ^ The Spectrum The Independent Student Publication of The University of Buffalo[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ ''Everyday People'' website. (November 12, 2011). Retrieved on 2016-09-23.
  5. ^ 2015 Obie Award Winners Announced. Obie Awards. Retrieved on September 23, 2016.
  6. ^ Brantley, Ben (April 27, 2010) It’s No More Mr. Nice Guy for This Everyman. New York Times
  7. ^ Stephen Henderson on IMDb

External links[edit]