Beach, Michael 1963–
Michael Beach 1963–
In an environment that has neglected to include African American actors or pigeonholed them as villains or troubled characters, Michael Beach has managed to become one of the most versatile actors around, playing those roles and others, on television, film, and in the theater since the 1980s. Although known for his various roles as a cheating husband, he has moved away from this image to take on a variety of interesting personas ranging from cop to minister to doctor. He also has played other complex and demanding parts, including a man who is HIV positive in the award-winning TV show, ER; a spouse attempting to hang onto his failing marriage in the box office smash, Soul Food; and a sociopathic drug runner in the well-received independent film, One False Move.
Beach has starred on the popular NBC drama, Third Watch, in a part created for him by the producers of the show who worked with him on ER. On Third Watch he skillfully plays “Doc” Parker, a caring paramedic. Beach clearly enjoys the human side of the drama. “What I love about this character is, he’s not a Joe medical guy,” he told the New York Daily News. “He’s more of a people person.” To understand the role, Beach hung around with actual paramedics, firefighters and police. He acknowledged in the New York Daily News that this was difficult for him because “the technical stuff doesn’t come easily to me.” Beach’s face became familiar to television audiences after he appeared on ER. He hoped that his role on Third World would give him more exposure to the viewing audience. “What I’m trying to do is get my face out there and get some face and name recognition,” he commented to the New York Daily News.
Beach was cast for the part in Third Watch, which has a multi-ethnic cast, before the NAACP publicized the lack of racial diversity on the top television networks. He was disturbed by the absence of African American actors as leading or supporting characters on other new TV shows, and has agreed with the NAACP’s position. “Now I’m finding a lot of my friends are being placed in series who were not in the pilot,” Beach told the New York Daily News. “It’s unfortunate that it has to come to that, but what is it going to take for a catalyst to make the networks open their eyes? Not just for blacks, but for Asians? And the world is full of a lot of people.”
Born October 30, 1963, and raised in the Roxbury section of Boston, MA; married to Tracey; children: four. Education: graduated from The Julliard School in New York.
Career: Actor; began acting in high school and while attending The Juiliard School; performed in off-Broadway, regional, and Los Angeles plays; wrote and directed others; stagecredits include Much Ado About Nothing and Ascension Day; film credits include Streets Of Gold, 1986;Suspect, 1987;Lean On Me, 1989;TheAbyss, 1989; Internal Affairs, 1990; Ca-dence 1991; Guilty As Charged, 1991; Late For Dinner, 1991; One False Move, 1992; True Romance, 1993; ShortCuts, 1993; Bad Company, 1995; Waiting ToExhale, 1995; White Man’s Burden, 1995; A Family Thing, 1996; and Soul Food, 1997; television performances include Vengeance: The Story of TonyCimo, 1986; Open Admissions, 1988; ER, 1994-; Rebound, 1996;Ms. Scrooge, 1997; Fortunate Son, 1998; The Ruby Bridges Story, ì99B;Third Watch, 1999; and Made Men, 1999; has also has performed in television-shows such as Law and Order, Touched By An Angel, NYPD Blue, andThe Street.
Awards: First Place, NAACP National Drama Competition, 1982; Drama Award for Outstanding Achievement, 1984; and the New York Shakespeare Festival Award, 1986.
Addresses: Home —Los Angeles, CA; Office—do Eddie Michaels & Associates, Ine., 9025 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 450, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
Beach already has played a lot of lead roles. He played the leading man in an HBO action film entitled Made Men with Timothy Dalton in 1999. He also starred opposite Lela Rochon in the 1998 ABC television movie The Ruby Bridges Story, which was based on a true story of desegregation in a public school in New Orleans. While People Weekly gave the movie a so-so rating, the magazine observed, “Michael Beach gives grown-up depth to the character of Ruby’s father, Abon.” Beach’s other television credits include starring with Don Cheadle in the 1996 HBO film, Rebound, which was directed by fellow ER cast member Eric LaSalle. He also co-starred with Cicely Tyson as a preacher in a 1997 USA Network film, Ms. Scrooge, a revised version of the Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. For People Weekly, Ms. Scrooge didn’t pass muster. “But,” stated the magazine, “there is one shining moment: The miser’s clergyman nephew (Michael Beach) delivers a folksy but profound homily that captures the meaning of Christmas better than any dozen carols.” Beach also had the starring role in a short film, Fortunate Son, which he first learned about when a man stopped him on the street in Los Angeles and asked him if he would read his script. The film was produced and shown during Black History Month on the Showtime channel in 1998.
Beach has worked with highly visible actors and directors. In what many critics consider to be his first major film role, Beach starred opposite Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston in Waiting to Exhale in 1995. He also starred with Vanessa Williams and Vivica Fox in the 1997 hit movie Soul Food; Billy Bob Thornton in One False Move; Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones in the comedy drama, A Family Thing; and White Man’s Burden with Harry Belafonte. Beach’s other film credits include Bad Company, Guilty as Charged, Late for Dinner, Lean on Me, Suspect, Streets of Gold, and Cadence. He has also worked with some of Hollywood’s most respected directors, among them Robert Altman in Short Cuts, Tony Scott, in True Romance, Jim Cameron in The Abyss, and Mike Figgis in Internal Affairs. The 1992 film, One False Move, received a fair amount of press coverage. The New Yorker called it “skillfully acted and welcomely unpredictable” and added that Beach played his socio-pathic character with “inhuman brilliance.”
Beach’s acting abilities were recognized almost from the start of his career in the 1980s. In addition to his television work on Third Watch and ER, he has appeared in films such as Evening Class, Hit List, and Another Round. He also has played roles in the CBS television films Open Admissions and Vengeance: The Story of Tony Cimo. Open Admissions was actually a play filmed for television. It concerns a college where open admissions for minorities is mandatory, but the system is not benefitting pupils. Its strong casting was praised by The New York Times. The New York Times reviewer also enjoyed Beach’s performance, “Mr. Beach is admirable as the student who changes from a cheery, upbeat fellow to one who finally understands that he is not yet equipped and is not learning anything, thanks to the system and his teacher, although he is being shoved ahead automatically. From the moment he appears with a smile, through the scenes where he realizes his helplessness, to the final scenes where the situation is, if not resolved, at least moving in the right direction, Mr. Beach makes an onlooker feel deeply about his fate.” Beach has also landed regular spots on the series Under Suspicion and The Street, and has guest-starred on shows such as Law and Order, Street Justice, Touched by an Angel, and NYPD Blue. Beach has portrayed several villainous characters. In Waiting to Exhale, his character abandons his African American spouse for his white secretary while in ER, his unfaithful character infects another character with HIV. Beach’s character in Soul Food, a depressed attorney whose wife Teri (played by Vanessa Williams) doesn’t support his artistic inclinations, has an affair with Teri’s cousin. His role in Soul Food upset many African American women. “I’ll be walking through the mall,” Beach told People Weekly, “and they’ll be yelling at me, ’Why are you always mistreating women? Can’t you be nice?’” After Soul Food was released, Beach seemed to be steering clear of characters who were unsavory. “A lot of people tell me they want to see me play a good husband,” he told TV Guide. He was relieved to play the parts of men with good hearts: a minister in Ms. Scrooge, and a strong-willed father in the racially charged Ruby Bridges Story. Beach prefers to play fully developed characters. As he told Essence, “In Exhale, the Black male characters were just there for the women to react or respond to… The Black men in Soul Food are much more rounded. You see how we feel and think, what we experience and how we love.”
Born on October 30, 1963, Beach was raised in the tough Roxbury section of Boston, Massachussetts. Before he became interested in acting, he was a star athlete. Fate and luck played a role in his career aspirations. Beach was headed to an elite prep school on a football scholarship when an ankle injury thwarted his athletic ambitions. He started acting in high school after a friend convinced him to audition for a school play, The Diary of Anne Frank. Beach loved acting from the start, although he recalled in Entertainment Weekly that one instructor “was extremely upset that they cast me as a Dutch Jew.” Later, he won first prize at the 1982 NAACP National Drama Competition. Beach received training as an actor at The Julliard School in New York, where he met other talented African American actors including Eriq LaSalle, Ving Rhames, and Andre Braugher.
While studying at Julliard, Beach received the Drama Award for Outstanding Achievement in 1984. Two years later, he captured the New York Shakespeare Festival Award. Beach has acted in more than 18 plays, and has written and directed many others. He has appeared in off-Broadway productions, in regional theater, and in plays in Los Angeles, including Much Ado About Nothing and Ascension Day. His first film break came in 1986, when he appeared with Wesley Snipes in Streets of Gold.
When he is not on the set of Third Watch in New York City, Beach and his wife, Tracey, a homemaker, live in Los Angeles with their four children. Apart from acting, he loves spending time with his family. Beach’s decision to star in Ms. Scrooge was made with his family in mind. “I did that to be able to sit down and watch something with my kids,” he stated in TV Guide. “Normally they can’t see the stuff that I do.” Beach continues to hope that African American films will gain wider respect and acceptance in the industry. “Now my only wish is for Black films to be on par with the rest of Hollywood,” he explained in Essence. “Exhale was one step in that direction, and Soul Food is a step beyond.”
Who’s Who among African Americans, Gale, 1998, p.76.
Who’s Who in Hollywood, Facts on File, 1992, vol. A-L, p. 106.
Entertainment Weekly, January 12, 1996, p. 40; October 17, 1997; January 14, 2000, p. 83.
Essence, November 1997, p. 66.
New Republic, February 20, 1995, p. 30.
New York, July 27, 1992, p. 47.
New York Daily News, September 17, 1999.
New York Times, September 8, 1988, p. C22; April 10, 1988, pp. 39, 45.
New Yorker, July 27, 1992, p. 54.
People Weekly, December 8, 1997, p. 17; December 29, 1997-January 5, 1998, p. 138; January 19, 1998, p. 13.
Time, August 3, 1992, p. 75.
TV Guide, November 8, 1997, p.5.
Additional information for this profile was obtained from Eddie Michaels & Associates, Inc., Public Relations and Marketing, and from the Internet.
—Alison Carb Sussman
Beach, Michael 1963–
Beach, Michael 1963–
Born October 30, 1963, in Roxbury, MA (some sources say Boston, MA); married Tracey (a homemaker); children: Ivy-Belle, Ella-Bleu, Lariah-Skye, Travon. Education: Graduated from the Juilliard School, 1986.
Addresses: Agent—Paradigm, 360 North Crescent Dr., North Bldg., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
Career: Actor and producer.
Awards, Honors: First place, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) National Drama Competition, 1982; Drama Award, outstanding achievement, Juilliard School, 1984; Best Armed Combat Award, New York Shakespeare Festival, 1986; Volpi Cup (with others), best ensemble cast, Venice Film Festival, 1993, Special Golden Globe Award (with others), best ensemble cast, 1994, both for Short Cuts; NAACP Image Award nomination, outstanding supporting actor in a drama series, 1998, for ER; Black Film Award nomination, best actor, Acapulco Black Film Festival, 1998, for Soul Food; NAACP Image Award nomination, outstanding actor in a drama series, 2000, NAACP Image Award, outstanding actor in a drama series, 2003, both for Third Watch; Black Reel Award nomination, best independent actor, 2003, for Crazy as Hell.
(As Mike Beach) Sonny, Streets of Gold, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1986.
Parking lot attendant, Suspect, TriStar/ML Delphi Premier, 1987.
Alvin, End of the Line, Orion, 1987.
Quintas Pearch, In a Shallow Grave, Atlantic Releasing, 1988.
Mr. Darnell, Lean on Me, Warner Bros., 1989.
Barnes, The Abyss, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1989.
Webb, Cadence (also known as Count a Lonely Cadence and Stockade), New Line Cinema/Republic, 1990.
Dorian Fletcher, Internal Affairs, Paramount, 1990.
Dr. David Arrington, Late for Dinner, Columbia, 1991.
Wade "Pluto" Franklin, One False Move, IRS Releasing, 1992.
Hamilton, Guilty as Charged, IRS Releasing, 1992.
Wurlitzer, True Romance (also known as Breakaway), Warner Bros., 1993.
Jim Stone, Short Cuts, Fine Line Features, 1993.
Tod Stapp, Bad Company, Buena Vista, 1995.
Policeman outside bar, White Man's Burden (also known as White Man), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1995.
John, Sr., Waiting to Exhale, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1995.
Virgil, A Family Thing, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1996.
Clark Cooper, Casualties, Trimark Pictures, 1997.
Miles, Soul Food, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1997.
Michael Hubbs, Asunder, 1998.
Terry Fitzgerald, Spawn 3: Ultimate Battle, 1999.
Dr. Ty Adams, Crazy as Hell, 2002.
Jerome Jenkins, Sr., Like Mike 2: Street Ball, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2006.
Paddy, Lenexa, 1 Mile, DEJ Productions, 2006.
Television Appearances; Series:
Shepherd Scott, The Street, syndicated, 1988.
Detective Desmond Beck, Under Suspicion, CBS, 1994–95.
Al Boulet, ER, NBC, 1995–97.
Voice of Terry Fitzgerald, Spawn (also known as Todd McFarlane's "Spawn"), 1997.
Monty "Doc" Parker, Third Watch, NBC, 1999–2004.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Rudolph Tyner, Vengeance: The Story of Tony Cimo (also known as Vengeance), CBS, 1986.
Wiley, Weekend War, ABC, 1988.
Calvin Jefferson, Open Admissions, CBS, 1988.
Steve, Dangerous Passion, ABC, 1990.
Perez, Fire! Trapped on the 37th Floor, ABC, 1991.
Tyrell, Another Round, 1992.
Detective Akin, The Hit List, Showtime, 1993.
Detective Thomas, Final Appeal (also known as Lying in Wait), NBC, 1993.
Will McQueen, "Knight Rider 2010," Action Pack, syndicated, 1994.
Pemberton, "Midnight Run for Your Life," Action Pack, syndicated, 1994.
Detective George Rydell, Sketch Artist II: Hands That See (also known as A Feel for Murder and Sketch Artist 2), Showtime, 1995.
Legrand, Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault (also known as Angel of Harlem and Rebound), HBO, 1996.
Reverend Luke, Ms. Scrooge, USA Network, 1997.
Mike, Johnny Skidmarks, HBO, 1998.
Abon Bridges, "Ruby Bridges," The Wonderful World of Disney, ABC, 1998.
Miles, Made Men, HBO, 1999.
Agent Winston, Critical Assembly (also known as Ground Zero), 2003.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Jake, "Taking a Stand" (also known as "On Our Own"), ABC Afterschool Specials, ABC, 1989.
Rick, Evening Class, Showtime, 1993.
Hobbs, Dr. Hugo, Lifetime, 1994.
Dee Evans, A Room Without Doors, Showtime, 1998.
The 31st Annual NAACP Image Awards, 2000.
Christmas in Rockefeller Center, NBC, 2001.
NBC's Funniest Outtakes, NBC, 2002.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
"Deadly Minds," Veronica Clare, 1991.
Michael Austin, "Birds Gotta Fly," Gabriel's Fire, 1991.
Nathaniel Simpson, "Justice—May 11, 1965," Quantum Leap, 1991.
Randy Warren, "Night of the Gladiator," Walker, Texas Ranger, CBS, 1993.
Officer Frank Quint, "Trials and Tribulations," NYPD Blue, ABC, 1994.
Officer Frank Quint, "From Whom the Skell Rolls," NYPD Blue, ABC, 1994.
Jonas Paige and Benjamin Paige, Sweet Justice, NBC, 1994.
Isaiah, South Central, Fox, 1994.
Attorney Brian Elliott, "Purple Heart," Law & Order, NBC, 1995.
Sam, "Reunion," Touched by an Angel, CBS, 1995.
The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1998, 2000.
Andy Abbott, "Lowdown," Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: SVU and Special Victims Unit), NBC, 2004.
Voice of Commander, "Dark Heart," Justice League (animated; also known as JL and Justice League), Cartoon Network, 2004.
Voice of Devil Ray and Mr. Terrific, "To Another Shore," Justice League (animated; also known as JL and Justice League), Cartoon Network, 2005.
Also appeared as voice of Mr. Terrific, "Patriot Act," Justice League (animated; also known as JL and Justice League), Cartoon Network.
Television Work; Specials:
A Room Without Doors, Showtime, 1998.
Appeared in "How Come, How Long," by Babyface and Stevie Wonder.
Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 26, Gale Group, 2000.
Entertainment Weekly, October 17, 1997, p. 43.
People, December 29, 1997, p. 138.
TV Guide, November 8, 1997, p. 5.