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Braugher, Andre

Andre Braugher

1962–

Actor

Andre Braugher has become among the most acclaimed actors of the 2000s. Rising to stardom for his Emmy-winning lead role in the NBC-TV drama Homicide: Life on the Street in the 1990s, Braugher did not allow himself to be pigeonholed by his years playing a Baltimore police detective and continued to bring a variety of critically lauded performances to stage, screen, and television after the show's cancellation. Braugher's intelligent, measured approach to his career is supported by excellent training. Braugher holds degrees from Stanford University and the Juilliard School. Nearly a decade after his star began to rise, Braugher seemed destined to remain in the limelight for years to come.

Braugher was born on July 1, 1962, in Chicago, Illinois, the son of a heavy-equipment operator. In 1980 he entered Stanford University, one of California's most venerable educational institutions, and embarked upon a course of study that would lead him into medical school; he later switched to engineering, but made a final degree decision during his sophomore year after appearing in a university production of an avant-garde play Susurrus, a Latin word meaning "whisper". He was coerced into appearing as Claudius in the play, which was simply the whispered portions of Shakespeare's Hamlet—Braugher later admitted that his performance in this stage role was appalling, but it honed his skills as an actor. When he failed calculus the same year, his switch into a more appropriate major came easily.

After receiving a B.A. from Stanford, Braugher was then accepted into New York City's prestigious Juilliard School, a rigorous performing arts training ground, which he described as "boot camp" in an interview with the Village Voice's James Hannaham. He graduated from Juilliard with an M.F.A., and began winning small parts in the New York Shakespeare Festival's summer productions. Braugher's first brush with fame came in the 1989 motion-picture film Glory, set during the American Civil War; he played a Harvard-educated soldier in an all-black regiment.

For a number of years Braugher mixed stage work with television roles. He became a frequent cast member in acclaimed productions of the New York Shakespeare Festival each summer, including Henry V, Othello, Measure for Measure, and Twelfth Night, among others. Braugher also appeared in the title role in the cable-television movie The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson, and at one point signed on to a regular gig as the partner of Telly Savalas's Kojak character in a short-lived revival of the popular 1970s–era series. Braugher later confessed that such second-fiddle parts were not the career direction into which he wished to head; he was also uninterested in parts that seemed to polarize racial stereotypes of the "dangerous" young African American male.

In 1992, an audition for a gritty new NBC crime drama was a disappointing one for Braugher. "It just sucked. I stiffened up on camera," he told Entertainment Weekly's Bruce Fretts of his first meeting with the production staff of a show that was to be called Homicide: Life on the Street. On the way out, he threw the script pages in the garbage. He later admitted that he had coveted the part of Detective Frank Pembleton, though, because in reading through the character's words in this first draft of the script, "I couldn't discern his race …," Braugher told Jamie Malanowski in Esquire. "I saw the potential for this character, this master of his craft," a part blessedly free of clichéd writing.

Despite Braugher's inauspicious audition, producers recognized his suitability for the role and offered it; Homicide debuted in early 1993 and then appeared intermittently throughout the next two years before settling down to a fixed time slot in the regular fall season. Set in the Baltimore Police Department's homicide division, the show has been celebrated for its realistic treatment of a myriad of social issues. From its debut, the crime series "was a meticulously bleak show—morose, cynical, and allusive in a way nothing else on prime time was even trying to be," wrote Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker. Though "critical raves poured in … viewers, correctly suspecting a downer, stayed away in droves."

Lightening up the show's storylines in the second unofficial season seemed to improve its ratings, as did fleshing out the main characters such as Braugher's Pembleton a bit more. The personal and the professional became more integrated into the plots. In one storyline, for example, the detective begins to question his belief in God while tracking a serial murderer. The combination of fierce writing and a tight ensemble cast has won the show several Emmys. Braugher's Pembleton is a lead role for which the actor has been uniformly lauded. "Braugher has been justly celebrated for his rich, risky portrayal of the flamboyant Pembleton," noted Entertainment Weekly's Tucker. Esquire's Malanowski described Braugher's characterization of the detective as "intense, controlled, fiercely intelligent, sure of himself in a not very endearing way."

Braugher's role as the intense Pembleton seemed well suited to his conviction to not pursue or accept acting roles he deems "negative characters," Braugher told Hannaham in the Village Voice. "Unless the story is about me. Then I can give a three-dimensional portrayal of African men who are regularly vilified … and not, 'Oh, here's one of those niggers from over there who does that kind of thing that we see on the news.'" He explained that an idea from W. E. B. DuBois's The Souls of Black Folk often guided him: "DuBois talks about 'The Veil'—you're yourself, but you're also a representative of your race…. What I can make better, I do," he told Hannaham.

At a Glance …

Born on July 1, 1962, in Chicago, IL; son of a heavy-equipment operator; married Ami Brabson (an actress), 1991; children: three sons. Education: Stanford University, BA, 1984; Juilliard School, MFA.

Career: Actor, 1980s–.

Awards: Obie Award, for Henry V, 1997; Emmy Award, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, 1998; Emmy Award, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, 2006.

As Homicide's success skyrocketed, Braugher worried that fame would be too much of a good thing. "The danger for me is I'll forget who I am and where I came from. I might begin to believe my own hype," the actor admitted to Entertainment Weekly's Fretts. Though Braugher's stardom rose, and he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in 1998, he remained grounded. He moved away from Manhattan with his wife, actor Ami Brabson, and their children. Brabson, whom Braugher met as a student at Juilliard, played the on-screen Mrs. Pembleton. Braugher told the New York Times that his wife is "the best thing to happen to me—period." From his home in New Jersey, Braugher selected new parts with care after Homicide came to an end in 1998. He continued to offer performances praised by fans and critics alike. Putting in thoughtful performances in such television shows as Hack and Gideon's Crossing and such films as Duets, A Better Way to Die, and Frequency, Braugher made a name for himself by being what the Sacramento Observer called a "thinking man's actor." He even tried his hand at directing in 1999 with Love Songs, in which he also starred, and served as actor as well as executive producer of 10,000 Black Men Named George in 2001. Though he took a part in the disappointing blockbuster Poseidon in 2006, Braugher offered an intelligent portrayal of a crime boss in Thief, a six-week television series about a motley group's attempts to pull off a heist in post-Hurricane-Katrina Louisiana, shown the same year. Critics found his Posiedon performance flat, but not his job in Thief. Sign on San Diego reviewer Kat Peterson commented that "for all the surface similarities to those good old Homicide days," Braugher's performance in Thief "is treasure all its own." For Thief, Braugher won his second Emmy Award in 2006. As he maintains his high standards in acting as well as in life, Braugher's star continues to rise.

Selected works

Films

Glory, 1989.
Get on the Bus, 1996.
Primal Fear, 1996.
City of Angels, 1998.
Frequency, 2000.
Duets, 2000.
A Better Way to Die, 2000.
Poseidon, 2006.

Television

Homicide: Life on the Street, 1993–98.
Love Songs (miniseries), 1999.
Gideon's Crossing, 2000.
Hack, 2002–2004.
10,000 Black Men Named George, 2002.
Thief, 2006.

Sources

Chicago Defender, September 13, 2000, p. 20.

Entertainment Weekly, October 28, 1994; p. 78; February 16, 1996, p. 50.

Esquire, October 1995, p. 47.

Los Angeles Times, August 28, 2006, p. E4.

New York, October 17, 1994, p. 95.

New York Times, March 19, 2006, p. 2.21.

People, November 7, 1994, p. 13.

Village Voice, June 29, 1993, p. 95.

On-line

"Andre Braugher Steals the Show in FX's Otherwise Forgettable 'Thief'," Sign on San Diego, www.signonsandiego.com/news/features/20060327-9999-1c27karla.html (September 5, 2006).

Other

Additional information for this profile provided by NBC publicity materials, 1995.

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"Braugher, Andre." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Braugher, Andre." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/braugher-andre

Braugher, Andre 1962(?)–

Andre Braugher 1962(?)

Actor

At a Glance

Sources

Andre Braugher has become one of the most acclaimed young actors on television in the 1990s, primarily as a result of his starring role in the NBC-TV drama Homicide: Life on the Street. But it is unlikely that much of his mainstream audience is aware that Braughers intelligent, measured portrayal of a Baltimore police detective is the result of years of stage experience. Braugher holds degrees from Stanford University and the Juil-liard School, and continues to play lead roles in Shakespeare productions in his off-time.

Braugher grew up in Chicago, Illinois, the son of a heavy-equipment operator. In 1980 he entered Stanford University, one of Californias most venerable educational institutions, and embarked upon a course of study that would lead him into medical school; he later switched to engineering, but made a final degree decision during his sophomore year after appearing in a university production of an avant-garde play Susurrus, a Latin word meaning whisper. He was coerced into appearing as Claudius in the play, which was simply the whispered portions of Shakespeares Ham let Braugher later admitted that his performance in this stage role was appalling, but it honed his skills as an actor. When he failed calculus the same year, his switch into a more appropriate major came easily.

After receiving a B. A. from Stanford, Braugher was then accepted into New York Citys prestigious Juilliard School, a rigorous performing arts training ground, which he described as boot camp in an interview with the Village Voices James Hanna-ham. He graduated from Juilliard with an M.F.A., and began winning small parts in the New York Shakespeare Festivals summer productions. Braughers first brush with fame came in the 1989 motion-picture film Glory, set during the American Civil War; he played a Harvard-educated soldier in an all-black regiment.

For a number of years Braugher mixed stage work with television roles. He became a frequent cast member in acclaimed productions of the New York Shakespeare Festival each summer, including Henry V, Othello, Measure for Measure, and Twelfth Night, among others. Braugher also appeared in the title role in the cable-television movie The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson, and at one point signed on to a regular gig

At a Glance

Born c. 1962, in Chicago, IL; son of a heavy-equipment operator; married to Amy Brabson (an actress); children: Michael. Education: Received a B.A. from Stanford University, and an M.F.A. from the juilliard School.

Actor. Star of the NBC prime-time drama Hormicide; Ufe on the Street since 1993. Appeared in the motion pictures Glory, The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson, and Primal Fear. Appeared in the HBO movies The Tuskegee Airmen, Everybody Has to Shoot the Picture and the NBC movie Murder in Mississippi. Has also appeared in the New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Henry V, King John, as lago in the Folger Shakespeare Festival Production of Othello, and the Joseph Papp Public Theater productions of The Way of the World, Richard II, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, and Coriolanus.

Addresses: HomeBaltimore, MD, OfficeNBC Television, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112.

as the partner of Telly Savalas Kojak character in a short-lived revival of the popular 1970s-era series. Braugher later confessed that such second-fiddle parts were not the career direction into which he wished to head; he was also uninterested in parts that seemed to polarize racial stereotypes of the dangerous young African American male.

In 1992, an audition for a gritty new NBC crime drama was a disappointing one for Braugher. It just sucked. I stiffened up on camera, he told Entertainment Weeklys Bruce Fretts of his first meeting with the production staff of a show that was to be called Homicide: Life on the Street. On the way out, he threw the script pages in the garbage. He later admitted that he had coveted the part of Detective Frank Pembleton, though, because in reading through the characters words in this first draft of the script, I couldnt discern his race, Braugher told Jamie Malanowski in Esquire.I saw the potential for this character, this master of his craft, a part blessedly free of clichéd writing.

Despite Braughers inauspicious audition, producers recognized his suitability for the role and offered it; Homicide debuted in early 1993 and then appeared intermittently throughout the next two years before settling down to a fixed time slot in the regular fall season. Set in the Baltimore Police Departments homicide division, the show has been celebrated for its realistic treatment of a myriad of social issues. From its debut, the crime series was a meticulously bleak show--morose, cynical, and allusive in a way nothing else on prime time was even trying to be, wrote Entertainment Weeklys Ken Tucker. Though critical raves poured in viewers, correctly suspecting a downer, stayed away in droves.

Lightening up the shows storylines in the second unofficial season seemed to improve its ratings, as did fleshing out the main characters such as Braughers Pembleton a bit more. The personal and the professional became more integrated into the plots. In one storyline, for example, the detective begins to question his belief in God while tracking a serial murderer. The combination of fierce writing and a tight ensemble cast has won the show several Emmys. Braughers Pembleton is a lead role for which the actor has been uniformly lauded. Braugher has been justly celebrated for his rich, risky portrayal of the flamboyant Pembleton, noted Entertainment Weekly s Tucker. Esquires Malanowski described Braughers characterization of the detective as intense, controlled, fiercely intelligent, sure of himself in a not very endearing way.

Braughers role as the intense Pembleton seems well-suited to his conviction to not pursue or accept acting roles he deems negative characters, Braugher told Hannaham in the Village Voice.Unless the story is about me. Then I can give a three-dimensional portrayal of African men who are regularly vilified and not, Oh, heres one of those niggers from over there who does that kind of thing that we see on the news. He explained that an idea from W. E. B. DuBois The Souls of Black Folk often guides him: DuBois talks about The Veilyoure yourself, but youre also a representative of your race What I can make better, I do, he told Hannaham.

As Homicides success skyrocketed, Braugher moved from Brooklyn to Baltimore with his wife, actor Amy Brabson, and their young son Michael. Brabson appears occasionally on the show as the on-screen Mrs. Pembleton. Socializing with other actors is unpleasant to Braugher, and he rarely watches television. In his new hometown, the veteran Thespian has brought his Shakespearean experience to Baltimores Shakespeare Festival, and also participates in workshops that give inner-city teens a chance to learn a bit about acting and then audition for roles in the productions. While Braughers role on the popular NBC series has brought him acclaim, he has yet to be mobbed by fans in more public spacesand he much prefers the anonymity. He does not employ a manager or publicist to direct his career or handle details, preferring to keep things in his own hands. The danger for me is Ill forget who I am and where I came from. I might begin to believe my own hype, the actor admitted to Entertainment Weeklys Fretts.

Sources

Periodicals

Entertainment Weekly, October 28, 1994; p. 78;

February 16, 1996, p. 50.

Esquire, October 1995, p. 47.

New York, October 17, 1994, p. 95.

People, November 7, 1994, p. 13.

Village Voice, June 29, 1993, p. 95.

Other

Additional information for this profile was provided by NBC publicity materials, 1995.

Carol Brennan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Braugher, Andre 1962(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Braugher, Andre 1962(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/braugher-andre-1962

"Braugher, Andre 1962(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/braugher-andre-1962