Howard, Sherri 1962–
Sherri Howard 1962–
Sherri Howard is an Olympic track and field champion and the winner of numerous athletic awards and honors. She won a gold medal in the 4 x 100 relay at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and a silver medal in the 4 x 100 relay in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Her athletic ability has proven to be an asset in her appearances on various television fitness shows and in numerous commercial television spots. Howard has also pursued her dream of becoming an actress. She has appeared in several prime-time television shows, including the X-Files, Martial Law, and Diagnosis Murder; and she appeared as Queen Isis in the 2002 Hollywood movie The Scorpion King.
Howard was born in Sherman, Texas, one of six daughters of Eugene and Barbara Howard, and grew up in Alaska, where her father was stationed during his career in the Air Force. She won her first gold medal in the 200-meter run at the Arco Jesse Owens Games when she was still a young girl. While Howard was still in high school, the family moved to San Bernardino, California, when her father was transferred to Norton Air Force Base. During that time Howard set track records in the 400 meters. Coached by her father, she and her sisters, who were also runners, became known as “The Howard Sisters—the First Family of Track,” according to Howard’s website. Howard earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from California State University; while attending the university, she won the 400 meters in the 1985 NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships.
Howard and her sister, Denean, both won gold medals in the 4 x 100-meter relay at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and both won silver medals in the 4 x 100-meter relay at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. They were the first American sisters to accomplish this feat.
Howard had planned to compete in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, but took time off from training to take care of her sister, Gina, who was terminally ill, and to care for Gina’s two little girls. After her sister’s death, Howard continued to care for and bring up her two nieces, and was also able to find time to resume her training. However, soon after this, Howard’s father was diagnosed with cancer, and she quit training to take care of him, once again forfeiting her chance to compete in the Olympics.
Career: Athlete, 1984-88; actress, 1998-; has appeared in numerous prime-time television shows and in the feature film The Scorpion King.
Memberships: Screen Actors’ Guild.
Awards: Gold medal, 4 x 100-meter relay, 1984 Olympics, Los Angeles; 400 meters in the 1985 NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships, 1985; silver medal, 4 x 100-meter relay, 1988 Olympics, Seoul, Korea.
Address: Agent —c/o Ross Stephens Artist Management, 12400 Ventura Blvd. #365, Studio City, CA 91604.
With her Olympic dream set aside, Howard decided to pursue another dream—that of becoming an actress. Although he was ill, her father encouraged her to follow this interest and often helped her rehearse scenes as she prepared for acting classes or for roles in local plays. Her father’s death left Howard even more determined to follow an acting career. She worked hard and won roles in several prime-time television shows, including Martial Law, Diagnosis Murder, and Beverly Hills, 90210, as well as in The X-Files and Profiler.
Howard’s break into big-screen acting came when she was chosen to play the Warrior Queen Isis in Universal’s The Scorpion King, which starred professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Michael Clark Duncan. The movie, set in an ancient time, featured battles between warring leaders and tribes. The role allowed Howard to use both her athletic ability and her acting talent. In preparation for the role, in which she portrayed the leader of a fierce band of warrior women, Howard trained in sword fighting and spear-fighting, performing all her own stunts.
Howard told Staci Lane Wilson in Fantastica Daily that the transition between athletic achievement and acting is not as difficult as it might seem: “Being an Olympic relay runner is almost like being an actress. You’re constantly entertaining people on a worldwide basis.” Howard told Wilson that when the film’s director asked if she could ride a horse, she said, “’Yeah, I can ride a horse: I’m an athlete.’ He said, ‘Well, some of these models say they can ride and as soon as they get on, they fall off.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not a model first, I’m an athlete first.’”
Howard also enjoyed sparring with costar Michael Clarke Duncan, who made bets with her during fight scenes, telling her that he thought she could not do the scene satisfactorily in three takes or less. Howard told Fantastica Daily, “So in posing a challenge like that, and me being an athlete, I said, ‘Bring it on! What are you wagering?’ He was losing a lot.”
Howard has used her athletic ability on various fitness shows, including Body by Jake, Strength and Fitness Profile, and Beach Clash. She has also appeared in numerous commercials, modeling in Hotskins Body Wear, Muscle and Fitness, and Shape magazines. As a commentator, Howard has appeared in Swimsuit Illustrated, at the PAC-10 Championships, the World University Games, the Virginia Slims Invitational, the Special Olympics, the ARCO Jesse Owens Games, and at other sporting events. Howard has also made appearances at track meets, and has devoted time to visiting schools, hospitals, churches, and correctional facilities. As a motivational speaker, she has worked with Olympic Festival Seminars, Olympic Experience Gold Medal Speaking Tours, Women of Athletic and Academic Excellence, and with major corporations.
Sherri Howard Official Website, http://www.home1/gte.net/sfh1.bio.html
Staci Layne Wilson (originally published in Fantastica Daily ), http://www.staciwilson.com/scorpionprint.html
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