Stephen McKinley Henderson

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Stephen McKinley Henderson
StephenMcKinkleyHendersonAmherstHS (cropped).png
Henderson presenting at Amherst Central High School on March 29, 2018
Born (1949-08-31) August 31, 1949 (age 73)
EducationLincoln University, Missouri
Juilliard School
North Carolina School of the Arts (BFA)
Purdue University, West Lafayette (MA)
Occupation(s)Actor, director, educator
Years active1979–present
Pamela Reed
(m. 1978)

Stephen McKinley Henderson (born August 31, 1949) is an American actor and director.[1] Henderson trained at Juilliard School for acting and later became a resident member of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis from 1976 to 1981. He came to prominence as a character actor often performing the plays of August Wilson. He's received nominations for a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Vulture Magazine named Henderson as one of "The 32 Greatest Character Actors Working Today".[2]

Henderson made his Broadway debut in Wilson's King Hedley II in 2001. He later earned a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Wilson's Fences in 2010. He has since starred in A Raisin in the Sun in 2014 and Between Riverside and Crazy in 2022. He made his film debut in the 1979 film A Pleasure Doing Business. He has since appeared in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011), Lincoln (2012), Fences (2015), Manchester by the Sea (2016), Lady Bird (2017), Dune (2021), and Causeway (2022).

His television debut came in 1984 appearing in PBS's The Killing Floor. He's since appeared in Law & Order (1995–2010), Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (2005–2006), The Newsroom (2013), The Blacklist (2018), Wu-Tang: An American Saga (2019–2020), and Devs (2020).

Early life and education[edit]

Henderson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Ruby Naomi and Elihue Henderson.[3] 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.[4]

In 2020, Henderson was selected to return to his alma mater, Purdue University, to participate in the "Old Masters Program", an Old Master being a person who has made significant contributions to their field of study and to society. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Henderson's visit was virtual, where he engaged with the Purdue community through an array of interactive platforms including the Old Masters Podcast, personal host calls, virtual classroom talks, and events with student organizations in which he talked about his career and success. 2020 marked the 70th year of the Old Master's program, and was the first hybrid version, with Henderson broadcasting his appearances from his home. When asked by a Purdue Theatre student what advice he would give to current students, Henderson replied "Undergraduates should read broadly. Graduate students should read deeply."


Henderson is known mostly for his stage work. 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 nomination for a Tony Award 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. More 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. Though they did not transfer 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.

His films include his role as Arthur in Everyday People,[7] 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), Lady Bird (2017) and Dune (2021). In addition to his films, Henderson was a series regular on the FOX series New Amsterdam, which premiered in early 2008.

His 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, Blue Bloods and Devs.



Not yet released Denotes works that have not yet been released
Year Title Role(s) Notes
1979 A Pleasure Doing Business Bank teller
1985 Marie Cooper's husband
1984 Ghostbusters Police officer
2004 Everyday People Arthur
Keane Garage employee
2006 Waltzing Anna Pete
2008 If You Could Say It in Words Baseball fan
2009 The Good Heart Psychiatrist
2011 Tower Heist Lester
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Walt the locksmith
2012 Red Hook Summer Deacon Yancy
Lincoln William Slade
2014 Da Sweet Blood of Jesus Deacon Yancy
The Romans Birdman
2016 Manchester by the Sea Mr. Emery
The American Side Stickney
All at Once Robert
Fences Jim Bono
2017 Lady Bird Father Leviatch
2019 Native Son Mr. Green
The True Adventures of Wolfboy Nicholas
2020 Bruised Pops
2021 Dune Thufir Hawat
2022 Causeway Dr. Lucas
2023 Beau Is Afraid Not yet released TBA Post-production
Dune: Part Two Not yet released Thufir Hawat Post-production
TBA Civil War Not yet released TBA Filming


Year Title Role(s) Notes
1984 The Killing Floor James Cheeks Television film
1989 A Raisin in the Sun Bobo Television film
1995–2010 Law & Order Judge Marc Kramer 7 episodes
1995 New York News Sherman Wakes Episode: "Fun City"
2000 Third Watch Boudreaux Episode: "Know Thyself"
2001 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Abernathy Episode: "The Faithful"
2005–2006 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Judge Bernard 2 episodes
2006 Conviction Judge 2 episodes
2008 New Amsterdam Omar York Main cast, 8 episodes
2008 Brotherhood 2 episodes
2012 Blue Bloods Judge Harlan Haywood Episode: "Reagan V. Reagan"
2012 The Newsroom Solomon Hancock 3 episodes
2012 Elementary Groundskeeper Edison Episode: "One Way to Get Off"
2017 Survivor's Remorse Solomon Episode: "Future Plans"
2018 The Resident Darryl Phillips Episode: "The Elopement"
2018 The Blacklist Dr. Francis Woerner Episode: "Nicholas T. Moore (No. 110)"
2018 Strangers Billy Caldwell 2 episodes
2018 Fear the Walking Dead Clayton Episode: "Blackjack"
2019 Proven Innocent Judge Fry Episode: "Acceptable Losses"
2019–2021 Wu-Tang: An American Saga Uncle Hollis 3 episodes
2020 Devs Stewart Miniseries; 8 episodes
2020 Run John Episode: "Run"


Year Title Role(s) Venue
1986 A Raisin in the Sun Bob Union Square Theatre, Off-Broadway
1994 Zooman and the Sign Emmett Tate McGinn/Cazale Theatre, Off-Broadway
2000 Jitney Turnbo Second Stage Theater, Off-Broadway
2001 King Hedley II Stool Pigeon Virginia Theatre, Broadway
2003 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Slow Drag Royale Theatre, Broadway
2004 Drowning Crow Sammy Bow Biltmore Theatre, Broadway
2004 Dracula, the Musical Abraham Van Helsing Belasco Theatre, Broadway
2005 The Last Days of Judas Iscariot Pontius Pilate/Uncle Pino The Public Theater, Off-Broadway
2006 Seven Guitars Red Carter Peter Norton Space, Off-Broadway
2007 King Hedley II Elmore Peter Norton Space, Off-Broadway
2010 Fences Jim Bono Cort Theatre, Broadway
2014 A Raisin in the Sun Bobo Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
2014 Between Riverside and Crazy Pops Linda Gross Theater, Off-Broadway
2015 Second Stage Theater, Off-Broadway
2017 A Doll's House, Part 2 Torvald John Golden Theatre, Broadway
2022 Between Riverside and Crazy Pops Helen Hayes Theatre, Broadway

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2010 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play Fences Nominated
2015 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Play Between Riverside and Crazy Nominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a Play Nominated
2016 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture Fences Nominated
2017 Lady Bird Nominated


  1. ^ Stephen McKinley Henderson.
  2. ^ "Best Character Actors Working Today". Vulture. Retrieved December 24, 2022.
  3. ^ Stephen Henderson Biography (1949–). Retrieved on September 23, 2016.
  4. ^ "The Spectrum The Independent Student Publication of The University of Buffalo".
  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". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  7. ^ ''Everyday People'' website. (November 12, 2011). Retrieved on 2016-09-23.

External links[edit]