Best known for his role as nurse Malik McGrath on the popular television show ER, Deezer D transformed himself almost overnight from a gang member and alcoholic to a dedicated, clean-living Christian. His conversion included a movement towards the Christian rap music industry that culminated in an album with a strong message about the artist's own life and fame. Having listened to rap music most of his life, Deezer D wanted to send out a positive message to kids as opposed to the negative messages from the rap music he had grown up with. As an actor and a Christian rap artist, Deezer D has proven that success is possible in spite of the roots from which a person comes. His music and changed lifestyle have inspired and given hope to those he grew up with, as well as to the world that knows him as a rebel turned Christian.
Deezer D was born Dearon Thompson in 1965 into a family that drank heavily. He grew up in South Central Los Angeles, California, where he eventually became the member of a gang. "My house was like the Jerry Springer Show," claimed Deezer D on the Connection Magazine Web site. Although he harbored a dream of becoming a professional basketball player, he was thrown off his high school team and soon after left high school without graduating. Being forced to leave his high school basketball team changed Deezer D's life. Sports had served as a slight buffer from bad influences. Without a spot on the basketball team, Deezer D soon began drinking heavily. Deezer D recalled his parents' early discouragement from drinking and drugs, but he noted in an interview with Connection Magazine that "When I started doing it, it wasn't really a big deal." Drinking and rap music became a big part of Deezer D's life—a lifestyle he shared with his family and friends.
Encouraged by friends, Deezer D followed his interest in music by writing and singing rap songs. Music was in his blood and it came naturally to him, even though breaking into the music industry required hard work and persistence. His real break came with a rap song he had written about the dangers of smoking, which led to a television spot and an agent. Using the name "Deezer D," he was soon playing small television roles, and in time decided to pursue acting as a career. He attained two roles in the early 1990s in John Wells' series China Beach and Angel Street, which introduced him to the entertainment world and set him on the path to becoming a well-known actor. His first feature films included the 1991 rap-oriented remake of Rebel without a Cause, Cool as Ice, starring rapper Vanilla Ice, and in the 1993 comedy CB4, playing a member of an up-and-coming rap group, followed by bit parts in The Great White Hype in 1996 and Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion in 1997.
But it was on television that Deezer D first found great success. John Wells remembered Deezer D and offered him the opportunity to play the role of nurse Malik McGrath on NBC's popular television drama, ER, in 1994. Deezer D eagerly took to the part, and has appeared in the show's 12 seasons.
During his tenure as Malik on ER, Deezer D grew close to his fellow cast members. When he wed makeup artist Samantha Enson on November 14, 2004, Deezer D celebrated the occasion with cast members from eleven season of ER; Noah Wyle and Abraham Benrubi served as groomsmen. About his feelings for his ER coworkers, Deezer D told People Weekly that "They're much more than co-workers. They're part of my extended family."
Although Deezer D had achieved steady work in Hollywood, his life was tumultuous because of his drinking and carousing. But one Saturday night at a down time in his life that all changed when Deezer D's roommate invited him to attend church. With nothing else to do that night, Deezer D agreed. Minister Tim Storey began preaching, and "He was backing stuff up with scripture, and I'd never heard that before. He was applying scripture to your everyday life," Deezer D noted on the Crosswalk Web site. After hearing the pastor's inspirational message, Deezer D decided to become a Christian. He "quit his old sinful ways cold turkey," according to Crosswalk, and completely committed his life to the Lord. Deezer D has since taken care to incorporate his religious values into every aspect of his life and work. He is an active member of his West Covina, California, church and has maintained a strong relationship with Minister Tim Storey.
After his conversion, he felt responsible to improve the standard of Christian rap music, and to send a positive and hopeful message to youth. "My acting career has allowed me to do Christian rap music and speak to kids…. I believe I have a responsibility to make some good, positive hip-hop that's not cheesy," Deezer D explained to Connection Magazine. His disappointment in Christian rap music prompted him to self-fund a Christian rap album in 2000 called Livin Up In A Down World. The hip-hop album has 19 tracks that celebrate and was produced by D. Black & Chris Gunn for Black Gunn productions. At the release of his new album, Deezer D vowed to his audience to produce authentic rap music that people could relate to. Referring to the quality, content, and funding of his album, Deezer D told the Crosswalk Web site, "If we're going to be doing it for God, let's do it on God's level." The N∗Soul Web site promoted Deezer D as a "pioneer of an intrinsic craving within rap music: a beat you can listen to and the lyrics worth living for." Deezer D's further involved himself in the Christian music community by acting in Christian singer Carman's 2005 video and hosting a Christian rap radio show on Los Angeles station KFSG for a short time.
Deezer D 's success in the film and music industries is evidence of his ambition and will to overcome tremendous odds. Having grown up in an environment where drinking and gangs were conventional, Deezer D strove to become more, and his life serves as a testimonial of the power of commitment, willpower, and dedication to a higher standard. He shares his new values and life experiences with audiences as a motivational speaker, and serves as a counselor to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Livin Up In A Down World, N∗Soul, 2000.
Cool as Ice, Universal Studios, 1991.
CB-4, Universal Studios, 1993.
Fear of a Black Hat, Columbia Tristar, 1994.
The Great White Hype, Fox Home Entertainment, 1996.
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Touchstone Pictures, 1997
At a Glance …
Born Dearon Thompson in 1965, in Los Angeles, CA; married Samantha Enson (2004). Religion: Christian.
Career: Actor, 1994-; musician, 2000-.
Addresses: Office—Crichton TV, 4000 Warner Brothers Blvd., Production Building #1, Burbank, CA 91505; Record Label—N∗Soul Records Inc., 11455 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601-2303.
"Two Hearts," People Weekly, November 29, 2004, p. 190.
"Deezer D," N∗Soul, www.nsoul.com/artdisp.cfm?artistnum=61 (June 4, 2005).
"Deezer D Acts Up," Crosswalk, www.Crosswalk.com/fun/music/540224.html (June 4, 2005).
"Hollywood Hip-Hop & Heaven: On the Set with Actor Deezer D," Connection Magazine, http://ftp.connectionmagazine.org (June 4, 2005).
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