Blair Underwood
Blair Underwood
as Owen Hall

Actor Biography

Two-time Golden Globe-nominee 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. This fall, Underwood returns to television in a starring role in the ABC hit drama Quantico, playing Owen Hall, the charming and intelligent CIA officer every operative wishes he or she could learn from. He also secured early Emmy buzz this year for his powerful guest starring role as a father struck personally by gun violence in the final season of CBS' The Good Wife.

He also narrated and executive produced the independent documentary Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, the story of the 18 African-American young athletes who traveled to Berlin for the 1936 Olympics amidst racism both at home and in Nazi Germany (August 5, LA & NYC).

The past few years have been punctuated by a return to the stage, most recently an acclaimed turn at the famed Old Globe Theatre in the title role of William Shakespeare's Othello. Last summer, he starred in Paradise Blue at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, as a brilliant and tormented trumpeter. In 2014, he garnered rave reviews opposite Cicely Tyson on-stage (and in the Lifetime telefilm) revival of the Tony-award winning play The Trip to Bountiful. The movie portrayal earned him a Critics Choice Award nomination. 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. 

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 memorable role as an anguished fighter pilot on HBO's groundbreaking drama In Treatment.

Underwood is known for several high-profile television projects, including his NAACP Image Award-nominated role of Dr. Robert Leeds in Sex & the City, Marvel's Agents of  S.H.I.E.L.D., Ironside, The Event, Dirty Sexy Money, and The New Adventures of Old Christine.

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, followed by their subsequent novels, In The Night of the Heat, From Cape Town with Love and South by Southeast, all released by Simon & Schuster's Atria Books. The detective series received rave reviews from both readers and critics. Underwood portrayed Jesus in the audio book The Bible Experience. Since its release in October 2006, it has become the No. 1 selling audio Bible in history.

In the independent film world, Underwood shot his feature directorial debut in 2007, the independent drama Bridge to Nowhere, starring Danny Masterson, Bijou Phillips and Ving Rhames. He also starred in and produced the independent drama How Did It Feel, Asunder and the short film Sister, I'm Sorry.  He has starred in the independent films The Art of Getting By, G and Truth Be Told, as well as'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.

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 an 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. He has won a total of seven NAACP Image Awards.

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. 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 D.C.–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 honorary Doctorates from Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts; and Xavier University, New Orleans, Louisiana.