Warner, Malcolm-Jamal 1970-
WARNER, Malcolm-Jamal 1970-
Born August 18, 1970, in Jersey City, NJ; son of Robert (director of a drug intervention program) and Pamela (a business manager) Warner. Education: Professional Children's School, Manhattan, NY, graduated with honors. Hobbies and other interests: Music.
Agent—Artists First, 8230 Beverly Blvd. No. 23, Los Angeles, CA 90048.
Actor, 1984—, director, 1989—, and musician, beginning 1990s. Television roles include The Cosby Show, 1984-92; Here and Now, 1992-93; The Magic School Bus, 1994-98; Malcolm & Eddie, 1996-2000; Jeremiah, 2002—, and Listen Up!, 2004—. Film roles include The Father Clements Story, 1987; Drop Zone, 1994; Tyson, 1995; The Tuskegee Airmen, 1995; Restaurant, 1998; and A Fare to Remember, 1998. Director of documentary Timeout: The Truth about HIV, AIDS, and You. Musician with urban jazz band Miles Long. National PTA, honorary youth chairperson; Miracle Network Telethon, national chairman; Black Family Reunion Celebration, cochair.
Screen Actors Guild Osmond Foundation's Miracle Network (national chairman).
NAACP Image Award for best performance by actor in a comedy, and Emmy Award nomination, both 1986, both for The Cosby Show; NAACP Key of Life Image Award, for Timeout: The Truth about HIV, AIDS, and You.
(With Daniel Paisner) Theo and Me: Growing Up Okay, Dutton (New York, NY), 1988.
Also author of foreword, Ademola Mandella, Authentic Hair, Cosmic Nubian Enterprises, 2001.
Actor, director, and musician Malcolm-Jamal Warner is best remembered by television audiences for his role as Theo Huxtable in the 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show. The Cosby Show differed from other depictions of African American families because the characters were middle-class rather than working class, they were well-off rather than poverty-stricken, and they dealt with common problems rather than racially rooted ones. The program "reigned as TV's top-rated series for five years," remarked Michael A. Lipton in People, "mining sitcom gold (and six Emmys) from deceptively simple story lines." As Theo Huxtable, Warner dealt with issues like ear-piercing. "For eight seasons…, " noted a Jet contributor, "Warner donned the strait-laced middle-class likeness of Theo."
Warner's depiction of Theo led him to the composition of his book Theo and Me: Growing Up Okay. In the volume the actor responds to fan mail by showing readers how he himself dealt with problems that all teenagers have in common—both on the set of The Cosby Show and in his personal life. "Theo had a big, wealthy family and was usually looking for the easy way out of situations," wrote Marianne Meyer in Money. Malcolm's "real family," she continued, "did not have anywhere near as much money as his TV family. So Malcolm had to work hard and learn to play it smart." In Theo and Me Warner examines the issues raised by growing up in single-parent families (his mother and his father divorced when Warner was only two years old), dating, teenage sexual activity, drug abuse, and other emotional and physical issues common to the teen experience. Warner makes it clear to his readers that their lives will be shaped—perhaps permanently—by the decisions they make during their teen years.
Since The Cosby Show ended its run in 1992, Warner's career has expanded in a number of different directions. He has starred in numerous television productions, ranging from starring roles in Here and Now, where he played an inexperienced graduate student in New York City trying to work with inner-city kids; Malcolm & Eddie, in which he portrayed Malcolm McGee, the manager of a Kansas City sports bar; Jeremiah, a science-fiction show set in a post-apocalyptic world in which no one alive is over the age of thirty; and Listen Up!, where he played Washington Post sports writer Bernie Widmer opposite Seinfeld alumnus Jason Alexander's character, Tony Clineman. Warner has also earned a reputation as a director, working on episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Malcolm & Eddie, and Kenan & Kel. In the process, he has outgrown his teen identity as Bill Cosby's only TV son. "While I still feel a tremendous responsibility to be a role model for young brothers, I have left Theo behind," Warner told Deborah Gregory in an Essence interview. "I'm moving on with my life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Almanac of Famous People, Volume 6, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 36, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 10, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1993.
Warner, Malcolm-Jamal, and Daniel Paisner, Theo and Me: Growing Up Okay, Dutton (New York, NY), 1988.
Who's Who among African Americans, 14th edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Black Issues Book Review, September, 2001, Samiya A. Bashir, review of Authentic Hair, p. 35,
Chicago Tribune, November 23, 2003, review of Listen Up!, p. 10
Ebony, May, 2004, brief biography, p. 94.
Essence, August, 1995, Deborah Gregory, "Malcolm-Jamal Warner: Life after Theo," p. 56.
Hollywood Reporter, March 1, 2002, Barry Garron, review of Jeremiah, p. 16
Jet, May 10, 1993, "Malcolm-Jamal Warner Takes 'Street' Role in Chicago Play 'Freefall,'" p. 38.
Money, spring, 1993, Marianne Meyer, "Play It Smart," interview with Warner, p. 22.
People, November 9, 1992, David Hiltbrand, review of Here and Now, p. 13; May 20, 2002, Michael A. Lipton, "Cos and Effect: All Grown Up, the Cosby Show Kids Recall the Landmark Show That Celebrated a New Kind of TV Family," p. 140.
USA Today, May 20, 2004, Gary Levin, review of Listen Up!, section D, p. 3.
Variety, April 19, 1999, Todd McCarthy, review of A Fare to Remember, p. 49.*