Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jeffrey Wright (b. December 7, 1965 in Washington, D.C.) is an American actor. He graduated from Amherst College with a bachelor's degree in political science, planning to continue on to law school; however, he decided to learn acting instead. After receiving an acting scholarship from New York University and attending the school for two months, he decided to leave and become a full time actor. He began appearing off-Broadway in New York City and Washington, D.C., and in 1990 appeared in his first major film as an attorney in Presumed Innocent, starring Harrison Ford. Wright continued with his stage performances and in 1994 was cast as Norman 'Belize' Arriaga in Tony Kushner's award-winning play "Angels in America." His portrayal of a gay nurse forced to take care of a homophobe taken ill by AIDS won him the prestigious Tony Award.
In 1996, Wright had another breakthrough performance on the big screen, portraying painter Jean-Michael Basquiat in the film Basquiat. The film depicts the real-life tribulations of a young black artist who gained tremendous success in the white-dominated New York art scene until he tragically died at the age of 27. Wright's performance was again critically acclaimed and the movie gave him the chance to work alongside veterans such as Gary Oldman, Willem Defoe, Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken. During the filming, Wright also met wife Carmen Ejogo , whom he married in August 2000.
Throughout the '90s and early 2000s Wright gave memorable performances in both leading and supporting roles. His more mentionable roles were in movies such as Robert Altman's Celebrity (1998), Shaft (2000), and Boycott (2001), where he gave another critically acclaimed performance as Martin Luther King, Jr. and was awarded the AFI Award for his portrayal. In 2003 Wright reprised his role as Norman 'Belize' Arriaga in HBO's award-winning adaptation of "Angels in America" starring alongside screen veterans Al Pacino, Emma Thompson and Meryl Streep and directed by Mike Nichols. His performance gained him an Emmy award for Best Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series . In 2004, he appeared in Jonathan Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate opposite Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Liev Schreiber. In February 2005, Wright returned to HBO Films in his friend George C. Wolfe 's directorial debut, Lackawanna Blues, which starred many notable African-American actors. He also guest starred on "The Young Indiana Jones " and "Homicide: Life on the Street."
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