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Avery Brooks (1948)

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  Summary  

Avery Franklin Brooks is an American actor, television director, jazz musician, opera singer, college professor and narrator. Brooks is perhaps best known for his television roles as Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and its spinoff A Man Called Hawk, and in the Academy Award-nominated film American History X.

  Biography  

 early life
Brooks was born in Evansville, Indiana, the son of Eva Lydia (née Crawford), a chorale conductor and music instructor, and Samuel Brooks, a union official and tool and die worker. His maternal grandfather, Samuel Travis Crawford, was also a singer. At age eight, his family later moved to Gary, Indiana when Samuel Brooks was laid off from International Harvester. Of Gary, Brooks has said "I was born in Evansville... but it was Gary, Indiana that made me."
The Brooks household was filled with music. His mother, who was among the first African-American women to earn a master's degree in music at Northwestern University, taught music wherever the family lived. His father was in the choir Wings Over Jordan on CBS radio from 1937 to 1947 and his maternal uncle Samuel Travis Crawford was a member of the Delta Rhythm Boys. "Music is all around me and in me, as I am in it", Brooks has said.

Brooks attended Indiana University and Oberlin College and later received a B.A. and M.F.A. from Rutgers University in 1976, becoming the first African-American to receive an MFA in acting and directing from Rutgers.

 other work
 Teaching and cultural work
Brooks has taught at Oberlin College and Case Western Reserve University.

From 1993 to 1996, Brooks was Artistic Director for the National Black Arts Festival in association with Rutgers University. Held biannually since 1988 in Atlanta, Georgia, the internationally renowned festival celebrates African-American culture and people of African descent. He was also inducted into the Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1993. In addition, Brooks has done extensive work with the Smithsonian Institution's Program in Black American Culture.

 Music
A deep baritone singer, Brooks has performed on stage with Butch Morris, Lester Bowie, and Jon Hendricks. He also recorded an album with saxophone player James Spaulding as a tribute to Duke Ellington. Brooks had the lead role in the 1985 Anthony Davis opera X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X. Also, he performed at the Paris Banlieues Bleues Festival in 2005. In his role as Captain Benjamin Sisko, he performed the Frank Sinatra tune, "The Best Is Yet to Come", at the conclusion of the Deep Space Nine episode, "Badda-Bing Badda-Bang".

 Theater
Brooks received critical acclaim in Phillip Hayes Dean's play Paul Robeson. Brooks paid tribute to his culture by portraying the life of the famous singer, actor, and civil rights activist in a one-man, critically acclaimed biographical drama. He has performed the role since 1982 at the Westwood Playhouse in Los Angeles, and also at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the Longacre Theater on Broadway. He also portrayed Robeson in "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?", both on and Off-Broadway.

Brooks' early theater credits include The Offering, A PHOTOGRAPH: A Study of Cruelty, and Are You Now or Have You Ever Been in the 1970s. He first started to gain recognition after his appearance in Spell #7 at the Public/Anspache Theater in New York City in 1979. He subsequently starred in Othello at the Folger Shakespeare Festival and Fences at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Missouri . He reprised the role of Othello at the Washington Shakespeare Theater in 1990-1991.

Brooks appeared in the title role of The Oedipus Plays, a production that traveled to the 2003 Athens Festival in Greece. He also appeared in the title role of King Lear at Yale's Repertory Theatre. In 2005, Brooks again starred as Othello, this time at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in a production directed by the renowned Michael Kahn. Brooks was one of 15 Shakespeare Theatre Company company actors in Washington to be honored with the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre in 2007. He returned to the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Fall 2007 to play the title role in Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine.

In 2008, Brooks returned to Oberlin College to play the lead in a mixed-race production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

Once again, Avery played the title role of Paul Robeson at the Shakespeare Theater from March 24–27 in 2011.

 Films
Brooks played Dr. Bob Sweeney in American History X. He also played mob boss Paris in The Big Hit.

 Documentary work
Brooks has also hosted several documentaries and served as narrator in such features as the IMAX film Africa's Elephant Kingdom. His other documentary credits include narrating A Passion for Faith , Eyes on the Prize , Walking with Dinosaurs,
Jesus: The Complete Story, Land of the Mammoth: Ancient Evidence, The Ballad of Big Al, The Science of Big Al, Engineering the Impossible , Greatest Places and Echoes from the White House,'God vs. Satan' and "Jewels of the Rift" .

In May 2007, Brooks recorded the narration for the documentary The Better Hour, which is about the life of William Wilberforce, the man who led the campaign for the end of slavery in the United Kingdom in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Brooks also provided the narration for the BBC series Walking With Dinosaurs when it aired in North America on the Discovery Channel. His deep and authoritative voice commanded viewer attention; Brooks was able to draw on his years of training as an opera singer and his extensive stage experience with Shakespeare company actors to not only engage the viewer, but use his vocal abilities to emphasize the events as seen in the show.

In 2009, Brooks narrated a special documentary for the National Geographic channel titled, Drain the Ocean. Using CGI animation, National Geographic removed the water from the oceans and explored the ocean floor and its vast geography.

In 2011, Brooks was interviewed by William Shatner in the feature length documentary The Captains. The film was written and directed by Shatner and featured the original Star Trek captain interviewing every other actor who had portrayed a captain within the science-fiction franchise. Brooks also served as Musical Supervisor for the project.

 personal life
Since 1976, Brooks has been married to Vicki Lenora, an assistant dean at Rutgers University where she has worked for more than 30 years. The couple have three children: Ayana, Cabral, and Asante.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Avery Brooks", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.