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Blair Underwood

Underwood at the premiere for Earth in April 2009
Born August 25, 1964 (1964-08-25) (age 45)
Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
Years active 1985 - present
Spouse(s) Desiree DaCosta (3 children)
Official website

Blair Underwood (born August 25, 1964) is an American television and film actor. He is perhaps best known as headstrong attorney Jonathan Rollins from the NBC legal drama L.A. Law, a role he portrayed for seven years. He has gained critical acclaim throughout his career, receiving three NAACP Image Awards and 1 Grammy Award. In recent years, he has appeared on The New Adventures of Old Christine, Dirty Sexy Money and In Treatment.


Early life

Underwood was born in Tacoma, Washington, the son of Marilyn, an interior decorator, and Frank Underwood, a United States Army colonel.[1] As a result of his father's military career, Underwood lived on bases in the United States and Germany during his childhood.[2] Blair attended Petersburg High School in Petersburg, Virginia. He went on to attend the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is an honorary member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.


Underwood at the 41st Emmy Awards, September 1989

Underwood's feature film debut was the 1985 movie Krush Groove. His 1985 appearance on The Cosby Show landed him a short stint on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live, which eventually led to his performance on the TV series L.A. Law, where he appeared from 1987 to 1994. In 1996 Underwood was featured in the July issue of Playgirl.

Underwood broke into film with roles in Just Cause (1995), Set It Off (1996) and Deep Impact (1998). He also had a supporting role as a geneticist in Gattaca. In 2000, he played the lead role in the short-lived television series City of Angels. In 2003, he guest starred in four episodes[2] on the HBO series Sex and the City playing Cynthia Nixon's love interest. In 2004, he played the role of Roger De Souza opposite Heather Locklear in NBC's LAX.[3] He gained acclaim as the sexy grade school teacher in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus for two years. In 2007, he guest starred in an episode of the NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.[4] His latest role is as the recurring character Alex in the HBO series In Treatment.

Underwood has received five NAACP Image Awards, for his film work in Rules of Engagement, and his television work in L.A. Law, City of Angels, Murder in Mississippi and Mama Flora's Family.

Underwood was voted one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2000, and one of TV Guide's "Most Influential Faces of the 90s".[5]

In 2007, Underwood co-authored the fiction novel Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel with husband-and-wife team Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due.

Personal life

In 1989, Underwood co-founded Artists for a New South Africa, a non-profit organization dedicated to democracy and equality in South Africa.

Underwood is a part of several charitable organizations. He won the 1993 Humanitarian Award for his work with the Los Angeles chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 2003, along with Ashley Judd, he served as the spokesperson for YouthAIDS. Underwood also appeared in a 2004 public service announcement for The Fulfillment Fund.[6] He is a Trustee for the Robey Theatre Company in Los Angeles, a non-profit theatre group founded by Danny Glover, focusing on plays about the Black experience.

He supported President Barack Obama's candidacy and spoke at campaign rallies for Obama. Underwood got to know Obama while researching his L.A. Law role at Harvard Law School, while Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review.[7]

Underwood had also taken a DNA test from African and found out that he is a descendant of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria.[8]

On September 17, 1994, he married Desiree DaCosta, with whom he has three children.[5]



Year Film Role Notes
1985 Krush Groove Russell Walker
1992 The Second Coming Jesus Also director
1993 Posse Carver
1995 Just Cause Bobby Earl
1996 Mistrial Lieutenant C. Hodges
Set It Off Keith Weston
1997 Gattaca Geneticist
1998 Asunder Chance Williams
Deep Impact Mark Simon
1999 The Wishing Tree Magic Man
2000 Rules of Engagement Capt. Lee
2002 Truth Be Told Det. Harris
G Chip Hightower
Full Frontal Nicholas/Calvin
2003 Malibu's Most Wanted Tom Gibbons
2004 Fronterz (unknown role)
Do Geese See God? Man
2005 Straight Out of Compton 2 Hen Also producer
The Golden Blaze Gregory Fletcher/The Golden Blaze Animated
2006 Something New Mark Harper
Madea's Family Reunion Carlos
2007 Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (voice)
2007 The Hit Hen


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Knight Rider Potts
The Cosby Show Denise's Friend Uncredited
The Cosby Show Mark
1985-1986 One Life to Live Bobby Blue
1987 Scarecrow and Mrs. King Stillman
21 Jump Street Reginald Brooks
1987-1994 L.A. Law Jonathan Rollins
1988 Mickey's 60th Birthday Jonathan Rollins Television special
1989 The Cover Girl and the Cop Horace Bouchet Television movie
1990 Murder in Mississippi James Chaney Television movie
Heat Wave Bob Richardson Television movie
1991 A Different World Zelmer Collier
1993 Story of a People Host Miniseries
Father & Son: Dangerous Relations Jared Williams Television movie
Also associate producer
1996 Soul of the Game Jackie Robinson Television movie
1996-1997 High Incident Michael Rhoades
1998 Mama Flora's Family Willie Miniseries
2000 City of Angels Dr. Ben Turner
2003-2004 Sex and the City Dr. Robert Leeds
2004-2005 Fatherhood Dr. Arthur Bindlebeep Animated
LAX Roger De Souza
2006 Covert One: The Hades Factor Palmer Addison Miniseries
2006-2008 The New Adventures of Old Christine Mr. Harris
2007 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Miles Sennett
Dirty Sexy Money Simon Elder
2008 In Treatment Alex HBO series

Video games

He voiced Hunter in The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon.


  • Golden Globes
    • 2009, Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series or Mini-Series or Television Special: "In Treatment" (Nominated)
    • 1991, Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series or Mini-Series or Television Special: "L.A. Law" (Nominated)
  • Grammy Awards
    • 2009, Best Spoken Word Album: "An Inconvenient Truth" (Winner)
  • Image Awards
    • 2009, Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: "In Treatment" (Nominated)
    • 2009, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: "Dirty, Sexy, Money" (Nominated)
    • 2009, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (Nominated)
    • 2008, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: "Dirty, Sexy, Money" (Nominated)
    • 2008, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (Nominated)
    • 2005, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: "Sex & the City" (Nominated)
    • 2004, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: "Sex & the City" (Nominated)
    • 2001, Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: "City of Angels" (Winner)
    • 2001, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Rules of Engagement (Winner)
    • 1999, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: Mamma's Flora's Family (Winner)
    • 1997, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: Soul of the Game" (Nominated)
    • 1997, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Set It Off (Nominated)


  1. ^ Blair Underwood Biography (1964-)
  2. ^ a b "NPR". A Conversation with Blair Underwood. Retrieved 7 January 2007. 
  3. ^ "Yahoo Movies". Blair Underwood Biography. Retrieved 7 January 2007. 
  4. ^ "MovieWeb". NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit January Guest Star Appearances. Retrieved 7 January 2007. 
  5. ^ a b "". Biography for Blair Underwood. Retrieved 7 January 2007. 
  6. ^ "". Difference. Retrieved 7 January 2007. 
  7. ^ Kantor, Jodi (28 January 2007). "In Law School, Obama Found Political Voice". New York Times. Retrieved 28 December 2008. 
  8. ^ Underwood, Blair. "Testimonials". Retrieved 2008-11-23. 

External links

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