Born: August 25, 1964
Birthplace: Tacoma, WA
Zodiac Sign: Virgo
Career and Life
Blair Erwin Underwood is an American actor. He made his debut in the 1985 musical film Krush Groove and from 1987 to 1994 starred as attorney Jonathan Rollins in the NBC legal drama series L.A. Law.
Underwood has appeared in a number of films during his career, including Just Cause (1995), Set It Off (1996), Deep Impact (1998), Rules of Engagement (2000), Something New (2006), Madea's Family Reunion (2006), and Juanita (2019). On television, he played a leading role in the 2000 medical drama City of Angels, and the following years had regular roles in LAX (2004–05), Dirty Sexy Money (2007–09), In Treatment (2008), The Event (2010–11), Ironside (2013) and Quantico (2016-18). Underwood has received two Golden Globe Award nominations, five NAACP Image Awards, one Daytime Emmy Award and one Grammy Award.
Underwood was born to Marilyn Ann Scales, an interior decorator, and Frank Eugene Underwood, Sr., a United States Army colonel. Owing to his father's military career, Underwood lived on bases and Army Posts in the United States and Stuttgart, Germany during his childhood. 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 the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
After his film debut, Krush Groove, Underwood's 1985 appearance on The Cosby Show landed him a short stint for three months on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live as Bobby Blue. He later co-starred in the short-lived CBS crime drama series Downtown from 1986 to 1987, and guest-starred on Scarecrow and Mrs. King and 21 Jump Street.
In 1987, Underwood, at the age of 21, was cast as attorney Jonathan Rollins in the NBC legal drama series L.A. Law. He received Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film in 1991. The series ended in 1994. In 1990, he played James Chaney in the NBC television film Murder in Mississippi. In 1993, he co-starred in the western film Posse starring Mario Van Peebles. After L.A. Law, he starred in a number of movies, In 1995 he appeared in the legal thriller Just Cause, and the following year played Jada Pinkett' love interest in the heist film Set It Off. He also had a supporting role as a geneticist in the science fiction film Gattaca (1997) and in the disaster film Deep Impact (1998). In 1996 he was featured in the July issue of erotic magazine Playgirl.
In 1996, Underwood returned to series television with ABC police drama series, High Incident. He co-starred opposite Cicely Tyson in the 1998 miniseries Mama Flora's Family. In 2000, he played the lead role in the short-lived CBS medical drama series City of Angels. Underwood was voted one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2000, and one of TV Guide magazine's "Most Influential Faces of the 90s". In 2003, he guest starred in four episodes 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 short-lived drama LAX. In 2006, he appeared in the Tyler Perry's second film, Madea's Family Reunion. He had a recurring role as the sexy grade school teacher in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus from 2006 to 2008. In 2007, he guest starred in an episode of the NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2007, Underwood portrayed Jesus Christ in Inspired By… The Bible Experience, an 89-hour, celebrity-voiced, fully dramatized audio Bible based on Today's New International Version. Also in 2007, Underwood co-authored the novel Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel with husband-and-wife team Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due.
In 2008, Underwood starred in the first season of the HBO drama series In Treatment, for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film at the 2009 Golden Globes. From 2007 to 2009, he was regular cast member in the ABC prime time soap opera, Dirty Sexy Money.
In 2010–2011, Underwood portrayed United States President Elias Martinez in the NBC drama series The Event. In 2010, Underwood portrayed the role of Saint Mark in The Truth & Life Dramatized Audio New Testament Bible, a 22-hour, celebrity-voiced, fully dramatized audio New Testament, based on the RSV-CE translation. In 2012, he played the lead role of Stanley in the Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire.
In 2013, Underwood played the role of Robert Ironside in the remake of the successful 1960s television series, Ironside, made famous by the late Raymond Burr. The show was cancelled after three episodes. The following year, he appeared in The Trip to Bountiful opposite Cicely Tyson. From 2015 to 2016, he had a recurring role in the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. In 2016, Underwood was cast in the ABC thriller series Quantico for the series regular role of CIA Deputy Director, Owen Hall. The series was canceled after three seasons in 2018.
In 2019, Underwood played attorney Bobby Burns in the Netflix miniseries When They See Us. The following year, he co-starred opposite Octavia Spencer in the Netflix miniseries Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.
In January 2020, Underwood appeared on stage as Captain Richard Davenport in the Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway revival of Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama A Soldier's Play.
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. In addition, he is involved with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Blair Underwood Clinic in Washington, DC.
Underwood also appeared in a 2004 public service announcement for The Fulfillment Fund. 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.
Underwood's DNA test showed that he is a descendant of the Babungo people of Cameroon. Additional DNA testing and genealogical research revealed that his African ancestry comes from the Bamum, Brong and lgbo ethnic groups of Western Africa. The DNA test also connected Blair to a distant cousin in Babungo, Cameroon.
On September 17, 1994, he married Desiree DaCosta, with whom he has three children, Paris, Brielle and Blake.