AVERY BROOKS Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Avery Franklin Brooks                                                           
Born: 2 October 1948 Evansville, Indiana,                                             
Avery Franklin Brooks (born October 2, 1948) is an American stage and television     
actor, and jazz and opera singer. Brooks is known for his television roles as         
Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire       
and its spinoff A Man Called Hawk.                                                   
Brooks was born in Evansville, Indiana to Samuel Leon (a tool and dye maker and       
singer) and Eva Lydia Crawford (a pianist, organist, and choir director). At age     
eight, his family later moved to Gary, Indiana when Samuel Brooks was laid off       
from International Harvester. Of Gary, Brooks has said "I was born in Evansville     
... but it was Gary, Indiana, that made me".                                         
The Brooks household was filled with music. His mother, who was among the first       
African-American women to earn a master's degree in music at Northwestern             
University, taught music wherever the family lived. His father was in the             
choir Wings Over Jordan on CBS radio from 1937 to 1947 and his maternal uncle         
Samuel Travis Crawford, was a member of the Delta Rhythm Boys. "Music is all         
around me and in me, as I am in it", Brooks has said.                                 
Brooks attended Indiana University and Oberlin College and later received a B.A.     
and M.F.A. from Rutgers University in 1976, becoming the first African-American       
to receive an MFA in acting and directing from Rutgers.                               
Brooks has been a tenured professor of theatre at the Mason Gross School of the       
Arts of Rutgers University for more than three decades. He has also taught at         
Oberlin College and Case Western Reserve University.                                 
From 1993 to 1996, Brooks was Artistic Director for the National Black Arts           
Festival in association with Rutgers University. Held biannually since 1988 in       
Atlanta, Georgia, the internationally renowned festival celebrates African-American   
culture and people of African descent. He was also inducted into the Rutgers         
University Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1993. In addition, Brooks has done         
extensive work with the Smithsonian Institution's Program in Black American           
A deep baritone singer, Brooks has performed on stage with Butch Morris, Lester       
Bowie, and Jon Hendricks. He also recorded an album with saxophone player James       
Spaulding as a tribute to Duke Ellington. Brooks had the lead role in the 1985       
Anthony Davis opera X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X. More recently, he             
performed at the Paris Banlieues Bleues Festival in 2005.                             
Brooks received critical acclaim in Phillip Hayes Dean's play Paul Robeson.           
Brooks paid tribute to his culture by portraying the life of the famous singer,       
actor, and civil rights activist in a one-man, critically-acclaimed biographical     
drama. He has performed the role since 1982 at the Westwood Playhouse in Los         
Angeles, and also at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the Longacre         
Theater on Broadway. He also portrayed Robeson in "Are You Now Or Have You Ever       
Been?," both on and off-Broadway.                                                     
Brooks' early theater credits include The Offering, A PHOTOGRAPH: A Study of         
Cruelty, and Are You Now or Have You Ever Been in the 1970s. He first started to     
gain recognition after his appearance in Spell #7 at the Public/Anspache Theater     
in New York City in 1979. He subsequently starred in Othello at the Folger           
Shakespeare Festival (1985) and Fences at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis,         
Missouri (1990). He reprised the role of Othello at the Washington Shakespeare       
Theater in 1990-1991, where he set the town on its ear by appearing fully nude       
for the first scene. It was not done for a man to be nude on stage even though       
he never once stood up.                                                               
More recently, Brooks appeared in the title role of The Oedipus Plays, a             
production that traveled to the 2003 Athens Festival in Greece. He also appeared     
in the title role of King Lear at Yale's Repertory Theatre. In 2005, Brooks           
again starred as Othello, this time at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in a           
production directed by the renowned Michael Kahn. Brooks was one of 15               
Shakespeare Theatre Company company actors in Washington to be honored with the       
William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre in 2007. He returned to the           
Shakespeare Theatre Company in Fall 2007 to play the title role in Christopher       
Marlowe's Tamburlaine.