Vondie Curtis Hall
A versatile character actor, Vondie Curtis-Hall moved from the Broadway stage to features and television, including Emmy-nominated stints on "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) and in films like "Romeo + Juliet" (1996), and later, as a director on several features and for episodic television. Born September 30, 1950 in Detroit, Michigan, Hall and his siblings - brother and future fashion designer Kevan Hall and sister Sherrie - attended elementary and high school in the city's educational system before Vondie pursued studies in performance at Julliard and Richmond College in London, England. He began his professional acting career in stage musicals, performing as a member of the ensemble in shows like "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music" in 1981 before earning his breakout role as Marty, manager of soul singer James "Early" Thunder in the original Broadway production of "Dreamgirls" (1981). In the late 1980s, Hall began appearing in off-Broadway plays, which led to minor or supporting roles in features and on television, including "Coming to America" (1988), Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train" (1989) and men of authority on both sides of the law in Ridley Scott's "Black Rain" (1989) and "Die Hard 2" (1990). He also parlayed his stage experience into various music-related projects, including a singing police commander on Steven Bochco's "Cop Rock" (ABC, 1990) and as the pianist Miguel Montoya in "The Mambo Kings" (1992). By the midpoint of the 1990s, Hall was in demand as a character actor in features and on episodic TV: the former included work with John Sayles in "Passion Fish" (1992), Spike Lee ("Crooklyn," 1994), John Woo ("Broken Arrow," 1996) and Baz Luhrmann, who cast him as the Captain of the Verona guard in "Romeo + Juliet" (1996), and "Eve's Bayou" (1997), directed by his wife, actress Kasi Lemmons. Notable work on the small screen included appearances on "ER" in two roles - he earned an Emmy nomination as a drag queen who commits suicide in a 1994 episode, and then in a recurring role as the husband of ill-fated Carla Reece (Lisa Nicole Carson) from 1996 to 2001- and series regular work on CBS's hospital series, "Chicago Hope" (1994-2000), which earned him three Screen Actors Guild nominations as part of an ensemble cast. But "ER" also served in part as the launching pad for Hall's successful second career as a director; Hall made his debut in this capacity with the cult drama "Gridlock'd" (1997), with Tupac Shakur and Tim Roth, and would move between features like a remake of "Glitter" (2001) with Mariah Carey, and numerous television episodes, including two turns behind the camera at "ER" and episodes of "The Shield" (FX, 2002-2006), among others. He continued to act during this period, including appearances and recurring turns on "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1999-2007), "Soul Food" (Showtime, 2000-2004), and in features like Lemmons' "Talk to Me" (2007) and "Black Nativity (2013). In 2015, he enjoyed simultaneous recurring roles as tough journalist Ben Urich on Marvel's "Daredevil" (2015- ) and as Morris Chestnut's father on "Rosewood" (Fox, 2015- 2017), and returned to series work in 2018 as a district court judge on ABC's "For the People" (2018- ), produced by Shonda Rhimes. That same year, "Faith Under Fire" (2018), a drama starring singer Toni Braxton for Lifetime, was named the top original movie on cable in all key demographics.