Born: March 12, 1960
Courtney B. Vance may be known to many for his roles on crime-fighting TV shows like Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Flash Forward, and The Closer. But what you might not know is that he's a man with much more than just acting chops — he's also got the brains to back it up. He graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts and in between classes, he spent time acting with the Boston Shakespeare Company. As if a Harvard degree wasn't enough, he also earned a Master of Fine Arts degress, this time from the Yale School of Drama.
Vance kickstarted his career in the spotlight by working in theatre and was nominated twice for Broadway's prestigious Tony Award — first in 1987 for his role in August Wilson's Fences, and again in 1991 for John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation. He was now ready to conquer the big screen. In 1990, he starred in the Oscar-winning film The Hunt for Red October. He also appeared in other big blockbusters like The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993), Dangerous Minds (1995), Cookie's Fortune (1999), and Space Cowboys (2000), along with a string of TV movies as well.
To further add to his film and recent television accolades, Vance can also be seen playing the role of straight-edge Pastor Dale in the musical comedy Joyful Noise (2012), alongside music icons Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. He also stars in the thriller The Divide (2012) about a group of survivors taking shelter in the basement of an apartment building after a nuclear attack.
In 2016, Vance won his first Emmy for his role as Johnnie Cochran in the Ryan Murphy FX series The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. He also starred as Walter in the ensemble holiday comedy Office Christmas Party (2016), starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman.
Behind the camera, Vance sits on the Board of Directors for The Actors Center in New York City and was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame for Boys & Girls Clubs of America for his support of the program. He is currently married to actress Angela Bassett, whom he met at Yale, and in 2007 they penned an autobiography together called Friends: A Love Story. That same year, they also became parents of twins, a girl named Bronwyn Golden and a boy named Slater Josiah.