Terrence Howard

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Not to be confused with Terence Howard.
Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard TIFF 2011.jpg
Born Terrence Dashon Howard
(1969-03-11) March 11, 1969 (age 46)[1]
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actor, singer-songwriter, record producer
Years active 1992–present
Spouse(s) Lori McCommas (m. 1989–2007)
Michelle Ghent (m. 2010–13)
Mira Pak (m. 2013)
Children 4

Terrence Dashon Howard (born March 11, 1969) is an American actor and singer. Having his first major roles in the 1995 films Dead Presidents and Mr. Holland's Opus, Howard broke into the mainstream with a succession of television and cinema roles between 2004 and 2006. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Hustle & Flow. Howard has had prominent roles in many other movies including Winnie, Ray, Lackawanna Blues, Crash, Four Brothers, Get Rich or Die Tryin', Idlewild, August Rush, The Brave One and Prisoners. Howard played James Rhodes in Iron Man and reprised the role in the video game adaptation. However, he was replaced by Don Cheadle for the future films. He currently stars as the lead character Lucious Lyon in the television series Empire. His debut album, Shine Through It, was released in September 2008.

Early life[edit]

Howard was born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Anita Jeanine Williams (née Hawkins) and Tyrone Howard.[2][3][4] His maternal great-grandmother, Minnie Gentry, was a stage actress, as were his mother and uncles.[5][6] He experienced racism in his childhood.[7] His father was involved in what has been termed the Santa Line Slaying (1971),[8] serving eleven months in prison on manslaughter charges after stabbing another man to death.[2] At the age of 16, Howard emancipated himself from his parents and was put on welfare; at 18, he moved to New York City to pursue an acting career.[2] He wanted to be a science teacher, though he had a low GPA in high school and was admitted to the Pratt Institute in New York only after convincing them to give him a special entrance exam.[2][5] Howard did not complete his education, as he had joined his brother on an audition for The Cosby Show and was cast in the role.[2]


Howard in May 2007

Howard first entered the entertainment world when he portrayed Jackie Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream, an ABC miniseries. Three years later, he made his big film break in 1995's Mr. Holland's Opus. He continued being cast in television and movie roles and co-starred as Greg Sparks in the late-1990s television series Sparks, with James L. Avery, Sr. and Miguel A. Nunez Jr. Howard also appeared in The Best Man in 1999, in Ashanti's music video for her 2002 single "Foolish", and in Mary J. Blige's video for "Be Without You". Howard also made an appearance on the TV series Family Matters. It has also been announced that Howard will re-team with Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer for a film based on the life of country music legend Charley Pride.[5]

Howard has stated that he looks for characters that "teach him about himself" when choosing his film roles.[5] Howard has also worked as a film producer, receiving such a credit for the film Pride. In 2008, Howard hosted the PBS series Independent Lens.

Howard was the highest-paid cast member of the 2008 film Iron Man. He did not appear in either of the follow-up sequels because it was reported that he would have had to take a 50 to 80 percent pay cut and was replaced by actor Don Cheadle.[9]

In 2008, he made his Broadway debut, playing Brick in an all-African-American production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Debbie Allen and also starring James Earl Jones (Big Daddy), Phylicia Rashad (Big Mama) and Anika Noni Rose (Maggie). During rehearsals he allegedly attacked and seriously injured musical composer Tex Allen (brother of the director), who said he suffered multiple injuries as a result of being punched multiple times in the head and face. In October 2008, Allen filed a $5 million lawsuit against Howard.[10]

In October 2008, Howard made a guest appearance in the short film For All Mankind directed by Daniel L. Clifton, filmed on location in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. In 2009, he starred in the movie Fighting.

It was reported on July 30, 2010, that Howard had joined the cast of the new Law & Order: Los Angeles installment of the Law & Order franchise, where he played Deputy District Attorney Joe Dekker. He alternated shows with Alfred Molina, who portrayed Deputy District Attorney Ricardo Morales.[11] The series was cancelled after one season. In 2011, Howard played Nelson Mandela in Winnie Mandela alongside Jennifer Hudson.

Since 2015, he stars on the Fox television series, Empire. The former was created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong in which he plays a hip-hop mogul who discovers he is dying and must ensure the survival of his music empire. The cast includes Taraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidibe. He was also part of the Fox series Wayward Pines, which ran for one season in 2015. The latter series was produced by M. Night Shyamalan and also included cast members Matt Dillon, Melissa Leo, and Juliette Lewis.

Personal life[edit]

Howard lives outside Philadelphia in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania.[2] He has been married four times to three women, and has four children and two grandchildren.[12]

Howard married his first wife, Lori McCommas, in 1989.[13] They have three children together: daughters Aubrey and Heaven, and son Hunter. Through Aubrey, Howard has two grandchildren, a granddaughter born in December 2012 and a grandson born in February 2015.[14] Howard and McCommas divorced in 2003, but remarried in 2005. They subsequently divorced for a second time in 2007.[5][15] McCommas was born Jewish but is raising their children as Jehovah's Witnesses.[16] In an interview with NPR, Howard stated he wanted to become a Jehovah's Witness as well.[17]

Howard married his second wife, commercial production employee Michelle Ghent, whom he beat repeatedly following violent disputes, in January 2010.[18] Ghent filed for divorce in February 2011.[19] Ghent filed for a restraining order in December 2011, accusing Howard of being physically abusive toward her. Their divorce was finalized in May 2013.[20]

Howard wed his third wife, model/restaurateur Mira Pak (also known as Miranda), in late 2013.[21][22] They have one son, Qirin Love (born May 15, 2015).[23]

Though he did not complete his engineering degree, Howard thinks of himself as an engineer and intends to return one day to complete the "three credits"[24] of which he is currently short.[2][25][26][27] Howard's account of his educational history has not been confirmed; Pratt Institute, which he says he attended, closed its engineering degree program in 1993.[28] On February 26, 2013, Howard said on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that he had earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from South Carolina State University that year. Although he was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from SCSU in 2012, he never attended the university and never earned a degree in chemical engineering.[26]

In 2010, Howard was inducted as an honorary member into Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.[29]

In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Howard explained that he had formulated his own language of logic, which he called Terryology, and which he was keeping secret until he had patented it. This logic language would be used to prove his contention that 1 x 1 = 2.

"How can it equal one?" he said. "If one times one equals one that means that two is of no value because one times itself has no effect. One times one equals two because the square root of four is two, so what's the square root of two? Should be one, but we're told it's two, and that cannot be."[30]

Howard blames his leaving Pratt over disagreements with a professor regarding this hypothesis. He now spends many hours a day constructing models of plastic and wire that he says confirm his belief.

Domestic violence incidents[edit]

In February 2009, it was reported on The Smoking Gun that Howard was arrested in 2001 for a variety of charges related to a violent attack on his estranged first wife, including simple assault, terrorist threats, harassment and stalking. According to police reports, he arrived at her house after an argument on the phone, forced entry into her home by breaking in doors, and chased her into the backyard where he punched her twice in the face with a closed fist. The violent attack ended when Howard's brother stepped in. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace.[31]

These issues came to light after he reportedly downplayed singer Chris Brown's 2009 arrest for attacking his girlfriend Rihanna. When Howard was asked about the allegations of domestic violence against Brown, he told a reporter from Hollywood.TV "It's just life, man. Chris is a great guy. He'll be all right, and Rihanna knows he loves her, you know? They'll be all right."[32]

According to The Smoking Gun, Howard was also arrested for assaulting a Continental Airlines flight attendant after refusing her request to return to his seat because the seat belt sign was on.[33]

According to Philadelphia magazine, Howard punched a woman in a Pennsylvania diner in 2005 and was charged with simple assault and harassment. Those charges were later withdrawn, and Howard pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

On Dec. 5, 2011, a judge granted Howard's then-wife Michelle Ghent a restraining order based on her claims that Howard had caused her physical injuries that required medical attention, once broke her computer in half, repeatedly threatened her, and stalked her by telephone and on the Internet.[34]

In 2012, an ex-girlfriend of Howard accused him of punching and kicking her at his home. No charges were filed against Howard, but charges were filed against the ex-girlfriend. These charges were later withdrawn, and according to a lawsuit filed in Philadelphia, Howard paid the woman $75,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the incident at his home.

In August 2013, Howard's second wife, Michelle Ghent, obtained a second restraining order against him after showing up in court with a black eye she says he gave her. Howard has denied hitting her.[35]

In a September 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Howard admitted to hitting his first wife in 2001 saying, "she was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids."[36]


Howard released his debut adult alternative album, Shine Through It, in 2008 on Columbia/SME Records. He described the album as urban country and either wrote or co-wrote all the tracks on the album.[37][38]

For the movie Hustle & Flow, Howard performed all the tracks for his character, including "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp", which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 78th Academy Awards.



Year Title Role Other notes
1992 The Jacksons: An American Dream Adult Jackie Jackson
1993 Who's the Man? Customer
1995 LottoLand Warren
1995 Dead Presidents Cowboy
1995 Mr. Holland's Opus Louis Russ
1996 Sunset Park Spaceman
1996 Johns Jimmy the Warlock
1997 Double Tap Ulysses
1998 Butter Dexter Banks
1998 Spark Byron
1998 Players Club, TheThe Players Club K.C.
1999 Valerie Flake Hitchhiker
1999 Best Laid Plans Jimmy
1999 Best Man, TheThe Best Man Quentin Spivey NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actor
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
2000 Big Momma's House Lester Vesco
2000 Love Beat the Hell Outta Me Chris
2001 Investigating Sex Lorenz
2001 Angel Eyes Robby
2001 Glitter Timothy Walker
2002 Hart's War Lt. Lincoln A. Scott
2003 Love Chronicles T-Roy
2003 Biker Boyz Chu Chu
2004 Crash Cameron Thayer Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Florida Film Critics Circle Pauline Kael Breakout Award
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
National Board of Review Award for Breakthrough Performance by an Actor
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
2004 Ray Gossie McKee Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2005 Salon, TheThe Salon Patrick
2005 Hustle & Flow Djay Austin Film Critics Association Award for Breakthrough Artist
BET Award for Best Actor
Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Black Reel Award for Best Actor
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Song
Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Gotham Award – Breakthrough Award
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
2005 Four Brothers Lt. Green Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
2005 Animal Darius Allen
2005 Get Rich or Die Tryin' Bama
2006 Idlewild Trumpy
2007 Pride Jim Ellis Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
2007 Hunting Party, TheThe Hunting Party Duck (journalist)
2007 Brave One, TheThe Brave One Detective Mercer
2007 August Rush Richard Jeffries (child counselor)
2007 Awake Dr. Jack Harper
2007 Perfect Holiday, TheThe Perfect Holiday Mr. Bah Humbug
2008 Iron Man USAF Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
2008 Phillies World Series Champions DVD Narrator
2009 Fighting Harvey Boarden
2009 Princess and the Frog, TheThe Princess and the Frog James Voice role
2011 Little Murder Drag Hammerman
2011 Ledge, TheThe Ledge Hollis Lucetti
2011 Winnie Mandela Nelson Mandela
2012 Red Tails Col. A.J. Bullard
2012 On The Road Walter
2012 The Company You Keep Cornelius
2013 Movie 43 Coach Jackson Segment "Victory's Glory"
2013 Dead Man Down Alphonse Hoyt
2013 The Butler Howard
2013 Prisoners Franklin Birch
2013 The Best Man Holiday Quentin Spivey
2014 Sabotage Julius "Sugar" Edmonds
2014 Lullaby Dr. Crier
2014 St. Vincent Zucko

TV movies[edit]

Year Title Role Other notes
1992 Jacksons: An American Dream, TheThe Jacksons: An American Dream Jackie Jackson
1993 Tall Hopes Chester Harris
1995 The O.J. Simpson Story Young A.C.
2000 King of the World Cassius Clay
2001 Boycott Ralph Abernathy Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
2005 Their Eyes Were Watching God Amos Hicks
2005 Lackawanna Blues Bill Crosby NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Family Matters John 1 episode
1994 Living Single Brendan King
1994 Coach Johnny Williams
1995 New York Undercover Buster Goings
1996–98 Sparks Greg Sparks
2010–11 Law & Order: LA Senior D.D.A. Jonah "Joe" Dekker Series regular
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Senior D.D.A. Jonah "Joe" Dekker Episode: "Reparations"
2012 Hawaii Five-0 Billy Episode: "I Ka Wa Mamua"
2015–present Empire Lucious Lyon Series regular
Won—BET Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actor: Drama
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Villain
Nominated—Teen Choice Awards for Choice TV: Chemistry
2015 Wayward Pines Sheriff Pope Series regular

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008 Iron Man USAF Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes Voice role


Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1999 Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Male The Best Man Nominated
Black Reel Award Best Supporting Actor Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actor Nominated
2000 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Won


  1. ^ "Monitor". Entertainment Weekly (1250). Mar 15, 2013. p. 23. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Koltnow, Barry (March 22, 2007). "A star emerges: Terrence Howard is finally in the spotlight". PopMatters. Retrieved March 22, 2007. 
  3. ^ "People: Johnny Depp passes Will Smith as top-earning actor". Denver Post. September 26, 2008. 
  4. ^ http://obituaries.triblive.com/listing/140443/Anita-J-Williams/
  5. ^ a b c d e Cohen, Sandy (March 22, 2007). "Terrence Howard tries on more leading roles, a music career". Akron Beacon Journal. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2007. 
  6. ^ Haynes, Monica (September 27, 2008). "Obituary: Anita Williams / Mother of actor, recruiter at Pitt". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  7. ^ "Howard Still Haunted By Racist Fight In Santa Line". October 8, 2005. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  8. ^ http://assets.rollingstone.com/assets/2015/media/209021/_original/1442006998/1035x1465-R1244_FEA_TV_Howard_C.jpg
  9. ^ Entertainment (October 22, 2015). "Terrence Howard: 'Iron Man' responsible for 'killing my career'". NBC News. 
  10. ^ Thomson, Katherine (October 26, 2008). "Terrence Howard Sued For Alleged Beat Down". Huffington Post. 
  11. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 30, 2010). "Terrence Howard To Join 'Law & Order: LA'". 
  12. ^ "Terrence Howard Reveals His & Wife's Due Date, Welcomes New Grandson". theybf.com. 
  13. ^ "Howard Bought Ex-wife Her Dream Home In A Bid To Win Her Back". Contactmusic.com. November 3, 2008. 
  14. ^ Sarie. "TERRENCE HOWARD IS A GRANDPA". Black Celebrity Kids. 
  15. ^ Fiorillo, Victor (August 13, 2013). "Exclusive: Here’s Another Woman Butler Star Terrence Howard Punched". Philly. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  16. ^ Husband, Stuart (May 18, 2008). "Damn right I'm difficult". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Terrence Howard: 'I Would Be a Witness'". NPR.org. May 22, 2007. 
  18. ^ Dillon, Nancy (August 6, 2013). "Terrence Howard ordered away from ex-wife Michelle Ghent after punching, kicking allegations". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  19. ^ Sangweni, Yolanda (February 2, 2011). "Terrence Howard and Michelle Ghent Call It Quits". Essence. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  20. ^ Takeda, Allison (May 10, 2013). "Terrence Howard Finalizes Divorce From Michelle Ghent After Two Years". Us Weekly. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  21. ^ Nathan, Sara; White, Chris (December 11, 2013). "EXCLUSIVE - 'I'll sleep when I'm dead': The racy model-turned-restaurant owner who married actor Terrence Howard after just a month". Daily Mail. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  22. ^ Lee, Esther (January 2, 2015). "Terrence Howard's Wife Miranda Is Pregnant! Actor Expecting Fourth Baby". Us Weekly. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  23. ^ Leon, Anya (June 15, 2015). "Terrence Howard Welcomes Son Qirin Love". People. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  24. ^ http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-938342
  25. ^ "Terrence Howard Leads The Showtime Marching Band at Homecoming". 
  26. ^ a b Huber, Jeff (April 12, 2013). "Terrence Howard Isn't A Doctor, He Just Plays One On TV". Chemical & Engineering News: Blog. 
  27. ^ "Hustle & Flow : An Interview with Terrence D. Howard and Producer Stephanie Allain". 
  28. ^ "History". Pratt Institute. 
  29. ^ "[PHOTO] Actor Terrence Howard at his Phi Beta Sigma induction". Progressive Greek. 
  30. ^ Hedegaard, Erik (14 September 2015). "Terrence Howard's Dangerous Mind". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  31. ^ "Terrence Howard's Fists Of Fury", The Smoking Gun February 17, 2009, Retrieved August 3, 2010
  32. ^ "Martial Arts Expert Challenges Chris Brown to a Fight". Fox News. February 18, 2009. 
  33. ^ "MUG SHOTS: Terrence Howard '00", The Smoking Gun August 1, 2000, Retrieved April 26, 2010
  34. ^ "Terrence Howard’s Nasty Divorce: 11 Disturbing Claims in the Court File". The Daily Beast. 
  35. ^ "Oprah Winfrey The Butler Co-Star Terrence Howard Punched Woman In Diner - News - Philadelphia Magazine". Philadelphia Magazine. 
  36. ^ "Page 5 of Terrence Howard's Dangerous Mind - Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. 
  37. ^ "Terrance Howard Biography". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  38. ^ "'Shine Through It' Review". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 

External links[edit]