Courtney B. Vance
Courtney Bernard Vance
March 12, 1960
Courtney Bernard Vance (born March 12, 1960) is an American actor. He started his career on stage before moving to film and television. And has received various accolades, including a Tony Award and two Primetime Emmy Awards, as well as nominations for a Grammy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award.
Vance trained at the Yale School of Drama. He starred in the original productions of August Wilson's Fences in 1985, earning his first Tony Award nomination. He continued acting in the Broadway productions of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation in 1990 and Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy in 2013, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. He is known for his roles in films such as Hamburger Hill (1987), The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Preacher's Wife (1996), Cookie's Fortune (1999), Terminator Genisys (2015), and Isle of Dogs (2018).
From 2001 to 2006 he portrayed Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver in the NBC series Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He also guest-starred on Picket Fences, Revenge, Scandal, and Masters of Sex. He won acclaim for his portrayal of Johnnie Cochran in the FX limited series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (2016) for which he received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. He appeared in the HBO film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017), Nat Geo's limited series Genius: Aretha (2020), and the HBO series Lovecraft Country (2020) the latter earning him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.
He has been married to actress Angela Bassett since 1997. He is on the Board of Directors of The Actors Center in New York City, and is an active supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In 2019, he was appointed president of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.
Vance was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Leslie Anita (née Daniels), a librarian, and Conroy Vance, a grocery store manager and benefits administrator. He attended Detroit Country Day School and later graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Harvard, he was already working as an actor at the Boston Shakespeare Company. He subsequently earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale School of Drama, where he met fellow student and future wife Angela Bassett.
In 1985, Vance started his acting career on the stage as Cory in the Yale Repertory Theatre production of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award for Best Play-winning play Fences. From 1987 to 1988, Vance continued the role on Broadway opposite James Earl Jones where he won a Clarence Derwent Award for his performance. He was also nominated for Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his role.
Vance's film debut was in 1987 American war film, Hamburger Hill about the 1969 assault during the Vietnam War.
In 1991, Vance returned to Broadway playing Paul in John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation. He acted alongside John Cunningham and Stockard Channing. He was nominated for Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance at the 45th Tony Awards.
Throughout the 1990s, Vance continued acting in a variety of feature films such as The Hunt for Red October (1990), and The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993). In 1995, Vance played Black Panther Bobby Seale in the Melvin and Mario Van Peebles docudrama Panther. That same year, he also appeared in The Last Supper and Dangerous Minds. He also worked with acclaimed directors such as Robert Altman in Cookie's Fortune, Penny Marshall in The Preacher's Wife, and Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys.
During the 1990s, Vance guest-starred in numerous television shows including Law & Order, Picket Fences, and Thirtysomething. He also starred in made-for-television films such as Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men, in which he played the Foreman and acted alongside Ossie Davis, George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, Hume Cronyn, and James Gandolfini. In 1999, Vance also starred in and co-produced the romantic comedy Love and Action in Chicago.
From 2001 to 2006, Vance starred in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in which he played A.D.A. Ron Carver. He was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his performance. In 2008 and 2009, he guest-starred in the final season of ER alongside his wife Angela Bassett. He was also in Hurricane Season.
On December 2, 2008, TV Guide reported that Vance had been cast as the Los Angeles bureau chief of the FBI in the ABC pilot FlashForward, based on a Robert J. Sawyer novel and slated to be a possible "companion show" to Lost. In 2011, he starred in the American horror film Final Destination 5. Vance was tapped for the lead in the German-American apocalypse thriller The Divide.
He appeared in the Disney Channel Original Movie Let It Shine, where he played the pastor Jacob Debarge, the main character's father, and co-starred with Tyler James Williams, Trevor Jackson, Coco Jones, Brandon Mychal Smith, and Dawnn Lewis. It was the third time Vance portrayed a pastor in a motion picture, after The Preacher's Wife and Joyful Noise).
Vance has provided the voiceover for the National Football League's "You Want the NFL, Go to the NFL" television spots.
He appeared as Chief Tommy Delk on the TNT series, The Closer, from 2010 to 2011 (Season 6–7). Vance also played the role of Attorney Benjamin Brooks on four episodes of ABC's Revenge. In 2015, he portrayed Miles Dyson in Terminator Genisys opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke.
He won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Hap Hairston in Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy at the 67th Tony Awards (2013).
In 2016, he took on the role of Johnnie Cochran in FX's American Crime Story, which tells the story of the O. J. Simpson murder case. The series premiered on February 2, 2016, and his performance was critically acclaimed, winning Vance a Primetime Emmy Award.
In 2017, he narrated Wes Anderson's stop motion animated comedy Isle of Dogs. That same year he also starred in the HBO television film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, where he played Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield opposite Oprah Winfrey's Deborah Lacks.
In 2018, he appeared as Neil Beeby in the Peter Hedges film Ben Is Back, opposite Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges. He was cast opposite Niecy Nash in Prentice Penny's feature film directorial debut, the Netflix original movie Uncorked, released in 2020.
In 2019, Vance was appointed President of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.
In 2020, Vance was seen in HBO's drama series Lovecraft Country for which he earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series nomination. In 2021, he appeared in National Geographic's Genius: Aretha as C. L. Franklin.
In 2023, Vance was cast in Disney's live-action reimagining of Lilo & Stitch as Cobra Bubbles.
Vance first met Angela Bassett in 1980, and the pair has been married since 1997. Together, they have twins, a son and a daughter, born in 2006. He and Bassett have authored a book, Friends: A Love Story, with Hilary Beard. The two also participate in the annual Christmas celebration, Candlelight Processional, at Epcot. The family lives in Los Angeles.
Vance is on the Board of Directors for The Actors Center in New York City, and is an active supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He is an alumnus of the Detroit Boys & Girls Club, and was recently inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
On the PBS program Finding Your Roots, Vance discovered that his father was born out of wedlock to 17-year-old Victoria Ardella Vance.
|1985||Fences||Cory||Yale Repertory Theatre|
|1987–88||46th Street Theatre, Broadway|
|1989–90||My Children! My Africa!||Thami Mbikwarna||New York Theatre Workshop|
|1990–92||Six Degrees of Separation||Paul||Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Broadway|
|2013||Lucky Guy||Hap Hairston||Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway|
|1987||Hamburger Hill||Spc. Abraham 'Doc' Johnson|
|1990||The Hunt for Red October||Sonar Technician (Petty Officer 2nd Class) Jones|
|1993||The Adventures of Huck Finn||Jim|
|Beyond the Law||Conroy Price|
|Dangerous Minds||George Grandey|
|The Tuskegee Airmen||2nd Lt. Glenn|
|The Last Supper||Luke|
|1996||The Preacher's Wife||Reverend Henry Biggs|
|1998||Blind Faith||John Williams|
|1999||Cookie's Fortune||Otis Tucker|
|Love and Action in Chicago||Eddie Jones||Co-producer|
|2000||Space Cowboys||Roger Hines|
|2002||D-Tox||Reverend Jones||Also known as Eye See You|
|2008||Nothing but the Truth||Agent O'Hara|
|2009||Hurricane Season||Mr. Randolph|
|2010||Extraordinary Measures||Marcus Temple|
|Final Destination 5||Agent Jim Block|
|2012||Joyful Noise||Pastor Dale|
|Let It Shine||Pastor Jacob DeBarge|
|2015||Terminator Genisys||Miles Dyson|
|2016||Office Christmas Party||Walter Davis|
|2017||The Mummy||Army Colonel Greenway|
|2018||Isle of Dogs||Narrator (voice)|
|Ben Is Back||Neal Burns|
|2020||The Photograph||Louis Morton|
|Project Power||Captain Crane|
|2024||Lilo & Stitch||Cobra Bubbles||Filming|
|1983||First Affair||Male student||Television film|
|1989||Thirtysomething||Curtis||Episode: "Trust Me"|
|1990||Law & Order||Mayor's Assistant||Episode: "By Hooker, by Crook"|
|1991||The Emperor's New Clothes||Scribe (voice)||Television film|
|1992||In the Line of Duty: Street War||Justice Butler||Television film|
|1993||Percy & Thunder||Thunder||Television film|
|1994||Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad||Thomas||Television film|
|1995||Law & Order||Benjamin 'Bud' Greer||Episode: "Rage"|
|The Piano Lesson||Lymon||Television film|
|Picket Fences||Warren Grier||2 episodes|
|The Tuskegee Airmen||Lt. Glenn||Television film|
|The Affair||Travis Holloway||Television film|
|1996||The Boys Next Door||Lucien P. Singer||Television film|
|1997||12 Angry Men||Foreman||Television film|
|1998||Any Day Now||Mr. James Jackson||Episode: "Unfinished Symphony"|
|Naked City: Justice with a Bullet||Officer James Halloran||Television film|
|The Wild Thornberrys||Makai (voice)||Episode: "Naimina Enkiyio"|
|Naked City: A Killer Christmas||Officer James Halloran||Television film|
|2000||Boston Public||Walter Harrelson||2 episodes|
|2001–06||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||A.D.A. Ron Carver||111 episodes|
|2002||American Experience||Dr. Vivien Thomas (voice)||Episode: "Partners of the Heart"|
|Whitewash: The Clarence Brandley Story||Clarence Brandley||Television film|
|2004||American Experience||Narrator (voice)||Episode: "The Fight"|
|2007||State of Mind||William Banks||3 episodes|
|2008–09||ER||Russell Banfield||8 episodes|
|2009||The Spectacular Spider-Man||Roderick Kingsley (voice)||Episode: "Accomplices"|
|2009–10||FlashForward||Stanford Wedeck||22 episodes|
|2010–11||The Closer||Chief Tommy Delk||3 episodes|
|2012||Revenge||Benjamin Brooks||4 episodes|
|Let It Shine||Pastor Jacob DeBarge||Television film|
|2013||Graceland||Sam Campbell||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2014–15||State of Affairs||Marshall Payton||7 episodes|
|2014||Masters of Sex||Dr. Charles Hendricks||3 episodes|
|2015||Scandal||Clarence Parker||Episode: "The Lawn Chair"|
|2016||The People v. O. J. Simpson:
American Crime Story
|Johnnie Cochran||10 episodes|
|2017||The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks||Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield||Television film|
|2020||Lovecraft Country||George Freeman||3 episodes|
|2021||Genius: Aretha||C. L. Franklin||Miniseries|
|2022||61st Street||Franklin Roberts|
|2023||The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder||Merlin Kelly (voice)||Episode: "The Soul Vibrations"|
|1987||Clarence Derwent Award||Most Promising Male Performer||Fences||Won|
|Theatre World Awards||Theatre World Award||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Theatre World Award||Won|
|1987||Tony Award||Best Featured Actor in a Play||Nominated|
|1991||Best Actor in a Play||Six Degrees of Separation||Nominated|
|2013||Best Featured Actor in a Play||Lucky Guy||Won|
|2016||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie||The People v. O.J. Simpson||Won|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Movie||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actor in a Movie or Limited Series||Won|
|Television Critics Association Award||Individual Achievement in Drama||Nominated|
|Satellite Award||Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film||Nominated|
|NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie/Miniseries/Special||Won|
|BET Awards||BET Award for Best Actor on Television||Nominated|
|2019||Grammy Award||Best Spoken Word Album||Accessory to War||Nominated|
|2021||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series||Lovecraft Country: Whitey's On The Moon||Won|
|Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards||Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or Television Movie||Genius||Nominated|