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BVN SpotlighT: Actor, Singer, and Dancer Obba Babatunde

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Los Angeles

Highly recognized for his multiple talents as actor, singer and dancer, Obba Babatundé first garnered praise for his theater work in NYC before moving to success in film and television.

Born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, the handsome, lithe performer was bitten by the showbiz bug early. From the age of 6, he staged shows for his family.

Babatundé made his professional debut at 14 as a member of the Metropolitan Brass Ensemble and toured the United States and the West Indies.

While at Brooklyn College, his acting career began and during his last year at college, he and his brother, Akin, founded an experimental educational system for urban youth--the Harriet Tubman School.

The dual demands of his growing acting career and work at the school finally came to a head and Babatundé made the commitment to pursue his first dreams.

He amassed credits as a voice-over artist for TV commercials and appeared in various productions on and off Broadway. One of his first breaks came in the national touring company of "Guys and Dolls," followed by his role in the Broadway musical "Timbuktu." During the course of the run, he was asked to co-star in Liza Minnelli's world tour.

After Babatundé appeared as a dancer in an ABC variety special he was cast as C.C. the composer-brother of Jennifer Holliday's Effie, in Michael Bennett's "Dreamgirls," developing the character through the workshop phase and taking it to Broadway.

There he was nominated for a Featured Actor Tony Award and found himself in demand.
Soon he was above-the-title in theater (the Broadway bound revival of "Golden Boy"), headlining in nightclubs and had signed on as a regular on the ABC soap "All My Children."

Babatundé moved to Los Angeles and into primetime with guest appearances on dramas ("China Beach") and sitcoms ("A Different World") and features as well. He has appeared in two Oscar winning films directed by Jonathan Demme-- ("The Silence of the Lambs") and "Philadelphia" as well as the Demme-directed "Married to the Mob".

Other credits include "Dead Again," an all-Black version of "The Importance of Being Earnest"; "That Thing You Do!"; "The Cherokee Kid"; "Life"; "One Special Moment"; and "John Q."

The small screen has provided the actor with substantial roles, such as his guest appearance as an AIDS patient on "Chicago Hope" in 1994 and his Emmy-nominated performance as dancer Willie Johnson, one of the participants in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, in the HBO original movie "Miss Evers' Boys."

Babatundé earned the NAACP Image Award nomination for displaying his dancing prowess and a deeper understanding of the character of Harold Nicholas, husband to Halle Berry's character in her multiple award winning HBO film, "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge." In 2002, Babatunde's stirring performance as Charles Henderson in "Redeemer" garnered national commentary.

Despite leaving Broadway behind by moving to Los Angeles, Babatundé has not abandoned the theater completely. He has frequently appeared on stage in musicals in Southern California, including the title role of the world premiere of "Jelly's Last Jam." Babatundé starred as Billy Flynn in the national tour of "Chicago."

While collecting praise for his on-camera appearances, Babatundé continues his voice-over work in dozens of projects. There are on-going assignments in "Cyber 9" (voice of Akira) for "Max Steel" and "Rocket Power" ; he was the voice of Lando Calrissian in the CD-Rom "Star Wars" series and in 2002, he joined Lynn Redgrave, Marisa Tomei and others as the voice of Boko in Paramount's "The Wild Thornberry's Movie."

Babatundé's unusually deft touch with comedy and drama was accentuated in film and television as the 90s came to a close. He played "Principal Green" on "Dawson's Creek" for two seasons.

The Hip-Hop generation fell in love with his character of "Dean Cain" in the motion picture comedy "How High" and audiences sympathized with Babatundé as big brother Tony Waters to the dying convict in "The Visit." He played "Gordy Berry" on the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and "Berry Gordy" in NBC's mini-series drama, "The Temptations."

He presently has recurring roles in both series drama and series comedy.
Babatunde plays fathers on both the comedy "Half & Half" and the drama "Soul Food."

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