Character: Ludie Watts
Blair Underwood has distinguished himself as an award-winning actor/director/producer who continues to showcase his multitude of talents in the world of film, television, theatre and literature.
Underwood has recently starred in the NBC dramas “Ironside,” as a wheelchair-bound detective and “The Event,” as the President of the United States. He also co-starred the independent drama film “The Art of Getting By” opposite Emma Roberts and Freddy Highmore – which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival & was released by Fox Searchlight.
In 2009, Underwood received an abundance of accolades including a Grammy© award for Best Spoken Word for former Vice President Al Gore’s album “An Inconvenient Truth” (read by Blair Underwood, Beau Bridges & Cynthia Nixon). He also received his second Golden Globe nomination for Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for his powerful role on HBO’s groundbreaking drama “In Treatment.” Additionally, he was nominated for four NAACP Image Awards and was awarded his sixth overall.
Underwood was seen in three high-profile television projects in 2008. He starred opposite Donald Sutherland in ABC’s hit drama “Dirty Sexy Money” – as Simon Elder, a billionaire who tangles with the fictional Darling family. He received extensive critical acclaim and was an Emmy semifinalist for his role as a navy fighter pilot opposite Gabriel Byrne in “In Treatment.” And he reprised his recurring role of Mr. Harris opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus in CBS’ award-winning comedy “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
In 2007, Underwood shot his feature directorial debut in Pittsburgh, the independent drama “Bridge to Nowhere.” The film, which stars Danny Masterson, Bijou Phillips and Ving Rhames, is the story of four blue-collar twenty-something men from North Pittsburgh who team up with a destitute prostitute to create a high-priced escort service. The dark story follows their rise and inevitable spiraling descent.
Additionally, he produced the TLC series “Million Dollar Christmas” with his producing partner Tommy Morgan Jr. for their Intrepid Inc. production company. The first order of the series followed a group of lottery winners in St. Louis, Missouri – coworkers at a social services office – who went from modest lifestyles to multimillionaire status. The viewer saw how their newfound fortune affected their lives for better or worse. Intrepid Inc. has several projects in development including a documentary on the history of African Americans in entertainment for Associated Television International.
In fall 2005, Underwood published his first book, a non-fiction bestseller called “Before I Got Here” (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, Inc.). The book is a collection of stories and anecdotes from parents that speak to the existence of a child’s soul prior to birth.
In 2007, he returned to the literary world – co-authoring his first detective novel “Casanegra” with Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. Their subsequent novels, “In The Night Of The Heat” and “From Cape Town With Love” were released in 2008 & 2010. The fourth installment “South by Southeast” will be released September 19 by Atria Books. The detective series has received rave reviews from both readers and critics.
In five episodes of the final season of HBO’s hit series “Sex & the City,” Underwood played Robert Leeds, the NY Knicks’ team doctor who romanced his neighbor Miranda. His portrayal earned him two NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor.
In the independent film world, Underwood starred in and produced the independent drama “How Did It Feel, Asunder” and the short film “Sister, I’m Sorry.” He also starred in the independent films “G “and “Truth Be Told,” as well as amazon.com’s short film “Do Geese See God.”
As director, executive producer, writer and star of the dramatic short “The Second Coming,” Underwood played Jesus Christ returning to earth.
Underwood's other film credits include his portrayals of a space shuttle flight navigator in the Paramount/DreamWorks hit “Deep Impact,” a death row inmate in Warner Bros.' “Just Cause,” a geneticist in Columbia’s “Gattaca,” a sheriff in “Posse,” and a corporate banker in New Line’s “Set It Off.” He received an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for the latter role.
He co-starred in the Tyler Perry hit “Madea’s Family Reunion” and the romantic comedy “Something New.” He appeared in the Warner Bros. comedy “Malibu’s Most Wanted,” and was the male lead opposite Julia Roberts in Steven Soderbergh's “Full Frontal.” Underwood starred as a Marine captain in William Friedkin's “Rules of Engagement,” for which he won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Film.
In 2000, People magazine named him one of its “50 Most Beautiful People” and in 2004 named him one of the “Sexiest Men Alive.”
He burst into the national spotlight with his confident and passionate portrayal of lawyer Jonathan Rollins in the NBC hit series L.A. Law. The role also earned him his first Golden Globe nomination in 1990.
Additionally, TV Guide singled him out as one of “The Top Stars of the 90s.”
Underwood starred in CBS’ top-rated 1998 dramatic miniseries, “Mama Flora’s Family,” which was based on Alex Haley’s final book. The performance earned him a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Television Movie/Miniseries.
Underwood won the NAACP Image Award for Best Actor in a Television Movie for NBC's “Murder in Mississippi” and starred as Jackie Robinson in HBO’s “Soul of the Game,” for which he received another NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie/Miniseries. Underwood again, won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his starring role in Steven Bochco's “City of Angels.” He has also starred in Showtime's “The Wishing Tree,” TNT’s award-winning “Heat Wave,” the CBS miniseries “The Hades Factor,” and in 2004, the NBC drama “LAX” opposite Heather Locklear.
In 2007, he starred in a powerful episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as an abusive husband who sets his wife on fire.
His theater credits include his 2004 workshop/tour of his one-man show "IM4: From the Mountaintop to Hip Hop." The play, which he created and conceived and was written by his brother Frank Underwood, was the story of a rap mogul who gets gunned down. During his heavenly journey, the mogul meets the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Underwood played eight characters in all. In 2012, he made his acclaimed Broadway debut in the iconic role of Stanley in Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” – a role which earned him a 2012 Drama League Distinguished Performance Award nomination.
Other theater credits include the New York revival of the award-winning musical, “Purlie,” “Measure for Measure,” at the 1993 New York Shakespeare Festival, “El Negro en Peru,” “The Game of Love and Chance,” and “Love Letters” opposite Alfre Woodard.
Underwood is involved in numerous charitable organizations. His dedicated support of The Muscular Dystrophy Association won him the 1993 Humanitarian Award, presented by the Los Angeles Chapter of MDA. In 2003 Underwood, along with Ashley Judd, served as the spokesperson for YouthAIDS.
He is also co-founder of Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA). Founded in 1989, by members of the arts and entertainment community, ANSA is a nonprofit organization working in the U.S. and South Africa to combat HIV/AIDS, assist children orphaned by the disease, advance human and civil rights, educate and empower youth, and build bonds between our nations through arts, culture, and our shared pursuit of social justice.
On September 10, 2009, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the United States’ largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider, announced the grand opening of their first AIDS treatment center in Washington DC – and the facility was named after Underwood in recognition of his longtime advocacy. The AHF Blair Underwood Clinic includes a state-of-the-art, full-service HIV/AIDS treatment clinic as well as an on-site AHF Pharmacy.
In addition to serving as an “Artist In Residence” at Harvard University in 2009, Underwood also holds an honorary Doctorate from Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts.