Courtney B. Vance
Vance in 2013
Courtney Bernard Vance
March 12, 1960
Courtney Bernard Vance (born March 12, 1960) is an American actor of the stage and screen. Vance started his career on the Broadway stage in Fences, Six Degrees of Separation, and Lucky Guy for which he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. He is known for his roles in films such as Hamburger Hill (1987), The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Preacher's Wife (1996), Cookie's Fortune (1999), and Isle of Dogs (2018).
Vance is also known for work on television on shows such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent, where he played Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver. He also guest-starred on the Law & Order, Picket Fences, The Closer, Revenge, Scandal, and Masters of Sex. Vance won great acclaim for his performance as Johnnie Cochran in the FX limited series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story where he received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. He recently appeared in the HBO television film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017) and HBO's Lovecraft Country (2020).
Vance was born on March 12, 1960 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Leslie Anita (née Daniels), a librarian, and Conroy Vance, a grocery store manager and benefits administrator. He attended Detroit Country Day School and later graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While attending Harvard, Vance was already working as an actor at the Boston Shakespeare Company. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree later at Yale School of Drama where he met fellow student and future wife Angela Bassett.
In 1985, Vance started his acting career on the stage as Cory in the Yale Repertory Theatre production of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award for Best Play-winning play Fences. From 1987 to 1988, Vance continued the role on Broadway opposite James Earl Jones where he won a Clarence Derwent Award for his performance. He was also nominated for Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his role.
In 1991, Vance returned to Broadway playing Paul in John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation. He acted alongside John Cunningham and Stockard Channing. He was nominated for Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance at the 45th Tony Awards.
Throughout the 1990s, Vance continued acting in a variety of feature films such as The Hunt for Red October (1990), and The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993). In 1995, Vance played Black Panther Bobby Seale in the Melvin and Mario Van Peebles docudrama Panther. That same year, he also appeared in The Last Supper and Dangerous Minds. He also worked with acclaimed directors such as Robert Altman in Cookie's Fortune, Penny Marshall in The Preacher's Wife, and Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys.
During the 1990s, Vance also guest starred in numerous television shows including Law & Order, Picket Fences, and Thirtysomething. He also starred in made for television films such as Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men as the Foreman. There, Vance acted alongside Ossie Davis, George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, Hume Cronyn and James Gandolfini. In 1999, Vance also starred in Love and Action in Chicago, a romantic comedy which he also co-produced.
From 2001 to 2006, Vance starred in Law & Order: Criminal Intent where he played A.D.A. Ron Carver. He was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his performance. In 2008 and 2009, he guest starred in the final season of ER, alongside his wife Angela Bassett. He was also in Hurricane Season.
On December 2, 2008, TV Guide reported that Vance had been cast as the Los Angeles bureau chief of the FBI in the ABC pilot FlashForward, based on a Robert J. Sawyer novel and slated to be a possible "companion show" to Lost. In 2011, he starred in the American horror film Final Destination 5. Vance was tapped for the lead in the German-American apocalypse thriller The Divide.
He appeared in the Disney Channel Original Movie Let It Shine, where he played the Pastor Jacob Debarge, the main character's father. Vance co-starred with Tyler James Williams, Trevor Jackson, Coco Jones, Brandon Mychal Smith, and Dawnn Lewis. It was the third time Vance portrayed a pastor in a motion picture (the first being The Preacher's Wife and the second being Joyful Noise).
He appeared as Chief Tommy Delk on the TNT series, The Closer, from 2010 to 2011 (Season 6-7). Vance also played the role of Attorney Benjamin Brooks on four episodes of ABC's Revenge. In 2015, he portrayed Miles Dyson in Terminator Genisys opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke.
In 2016, he took on the role of Johnnie Cochran in FX's American Crime Story, which tells the story of the O. J. Simpson murder case. The series premiered on February 2, 2016, and his performance was critically acclaimed, winning Vance a Primetime Emmy Award.
In 2017, he narrated Wes Anderson's stop motion animated comedy Isle of Dogs. That same year he also starred in the HBO television film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, where he played Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield opposite Oprah Winfrey's Deborah Lacks.
In 2018, he appeared as Neil Beeby in the Peter Hedges film Ben Is Back, opposite Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges. He was cast opposite Niecy Nash in Prentice Penny's feature film directorial debut, the Netflix original movie Uncorked, released in 2020.
Vance is married to Angela Bassett, whom he first met in 1980. Together, they have twins, son Slater Josiah Vance and daughter Bronwyn Golden Vance; the twins were born on January 27, 2006. He and Bassett have authored a book, Friends: A Love Story, with Hilary Beard. The two also participate in the annual Christmas celebration, Candlelight Processional, at Epcot. The family lives in Los Angeles.
Vance is on the Board of Directors for The Actors Center in New York City, and is an active supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He is an alumnus of the Detroit Boys & Girls Club, and was recently inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
|1985||Fences||Cory||Yale Repertory Theatre|
|1987-88||46th Street Theatre, Broadway|
|1989-90||My Children! My Africa!||Thami Mbikwarna||New York Theatre Workshop|
|1990-92||Six Degrees of Separation||Paul||Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Broadway|
|2013||Lucky Guy||Hap Hairston||Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway|
|1987||Hamburger Hill||Spc. Abraham 'Doc' Johnson|
|1990||The Hunt for Red October||Sonar Technician (Petty Officer 2nd Class) Jones|
|1993||The Adventures of Huck Finn||Jim|
|Beyond the Law||Conroy Price|
|Dangerous Minds||George Grandey|
|The Last Supper||Luke|
|1996||The Preacher's Wife||Reverend Henry Biggs|
|1998||Blind Faith||John Williams|
|1999||Cookie's Fortune||Otis Tucker|
|Love and Action in Chicago||Eddie Jones||Co-producer|
|2000||Space Cowboys||Roger Hines|
|2002||D-Tox||Reverend Jones||Also known as Eye See You|
|2008||Nothing but the Truth||Agent O'Hara|
|2009||Hurricane Season||Mr. Randolph|
|2010||Extraordinary Measures||Marcus Temple|
|Final Destination 5||Agent Jim Block|
|2012||Joyful Noise||Pastor Dale|
|2015||Terminator Genisys||Miles Dyson|
|2016||Office Christmas Party||Walter|
|2017||The Mummy||Army Colonel Greenway|
|2018||Isle of Dogs||Narrator (voice)|
|Ben Is Back||Neal Burns|
|2020||The Photograph||Louis Morton|
|Project Power||Captain Crane|
|1983||First Affair||Male student||Television film|
|1989||Thirtysomething||Curtis||Episode: "Trust Me"|
|1990||Law & Order||Mayor's Assistant||Episode: "By Hooker, by Crook"|
|1991||The Emperor's New Clothes||Scribe (voice)||Television film|
|1992||In the Line of Duty: Street War||Justice Butler||Television film|
|1993||Percy & Thunder||Thunder||Television film|
|1994||Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad||Thomas||Television film|
|1995||Law & Order||Benjamin 'Bud' Greer||Episode: "Rage"|
|The Piano Lesson||Lymon||Television film|
|Picket Fences||Warren Grier||2 episodes|
|The Tuskegee Airmen||Lt. Glenn||Television film|
|The Affair||Travis Holloway|
|1996||The Boys Next Door||Lucien P. Singer||Television film|
|1997||12 Angry Men||Foreman||Television film|
|1998||Any Day Now||Mr. James Jackson||Episode: "Unfinished Symphony"|
|Naked City: Justice with a Bullet||Officer James Halloran||Television film|
|The Wild Thornberrys||Makai (voice)||Episode: "Naimina Enkiyio"|
|Naked City: A Killer Christmas||Officer James Halloran||Television film|
|2000||Boston Public||Walter Harrelson||2 episodes|
|2001-06||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||A.D.A. Ron Carver||111 episodes|
|2002||American Experience||Dr. Vivien Thomas (voice)||Episode: "Partners of the Heart"|
|Whitewash: The Clarence Brandley Story||Clarence Brandley||Television film|
|2004||American Experience||Narrator (voice)||Episode: "The Fight"|
|2007||State of Mind||William Banks||3 episodes|
|2008-09||ER||Russell Banfield||8 episodes|
|2009||The Spectacular Spider-Man||Roderick Kingsley (voice)||Episode: "Accomplices"|
|2009-10||FlashForward||Stanford Wedeck||22 episodes|
|2010-11||The Closer||Chief Tommy Delk||3 episodes|
|2012||Revenge||Benjamin Brooks||4 episodes|
|Let It Shine||Pastor Jacob DeBarge||Television film|
|2013||Graceland||Sam Campbell||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2014-15||State of Affairs||Marshall Payton||7 episodes|
|2014||Masters of Sex||Dr. Charles Hendricks||3 episodes|
|2015||Scandal||Clarence Parker||Episode: "The Lawn Chair"|
|2016||The People v. O. J. Simpson:
American Crime Story
|Johnnie Cochran||10 episodes|
|2017||The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks||Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield||Television film|
|2020||Lovecraft Country||George Freeman||2 episodes|
|Genius||C. L. Franklin||Upcoming series|
|1987||Clarence Derwent Award||Most Promosing Male Performer||Fences||Won|
|Theatre World Awards||Theatre World Award||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Theatre World Award||Won|
|1987||Tony Award||Best Featured Actor in a Play||Nominated|
|1991||Best Actor in a Play||Six Degrees of Separation||Nominated|
|2013||Best Featured Actor in a Play||Lucky Guy||Won|
|2016||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series||The People v. O.J. Simpson||Won|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Movie||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actor in a Movie or Limited Series||Won|
|Television Critics Association Award||Individual Achievement in Drama||Nominated|
|Satellite Award||Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film||Nominated|
|NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie/Miniseries/Special||Won|
|BET Awards||BET Award for Best Actor on Television||Nominated|