Childhood & Early Life
Cress Williams was born on July 26, 1970, in Heidelberg, West Germany, to American parents. Soon after he was born, the family moved to Chicago. Cress spent the rest of his adolescence in Orange County.
Although he had gained interest in acting at the age of 7, he had not really thought about making a career in acting until he was in high school. Although he wanted to participate in theater, he did not have a drama wing in his high school.
One of his English teachers introduced him to William Shakespeare. With this, Cress became highly interested in pursuing acting. He joined the ‘UCLA’ and majored in drama.
He had also begun doing plays. He played key parts in many classic plays, such as ‘Othello’ and ‘Oberon.’ He began working on TV when he was in his last year of college.
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Cress made his on-screen acting debut with the supporting role of ‘Terrence “Scooter” Williams’ in the sitcom ‘Living Single’ in 1993. He appeared in the series until 1998.
He then appeared in another supporting role, in the teen drama series ‘Beverly Hills, 90210.’ He appeared as ‘D’Shawn Hardell’ in 13 episodes of the series.
He also played the guest role of ‘Spotlight Davis’ in the baseball-based sitcom ‘Hardball.’
He made his film debut with the 1995 dark comedy ‘The Doom Generation.’ The film received mixed reviews from critics and was a box-office failure.
In the mid-1990s, he appeared in guest/small roles in many series, such as ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ and ‘If Not for You.’ He also played supporting roles in films such as ‘2 Days in the Valley’ and ‘Fallen.’
In the mid-1990s, he ventured into TV films, too, such as ‘Rolling Thunder’ and ‘Rebound: The Legend of Earl “The Goat”Manigault.’
In 1997, he appeared in a supporting role in the series ‘Leaving L.A.’ However, the series received abysmal ratings and reviews and was canceled after six episodes of the first season were aired.
In 1998, he appeared in the miniseries ‘Creature,’ in which he played the ‘Tall Man.’ However, despite receiving appreciation for its special effects, the film was met with poor reviews.
The same year, Cress received a huge break when he was signed to play ‘Officer Reggie Moore’ in the American medical drama ‘ER.’ He played a recurring role in the series.
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He then appeared in a string of guest roles, in series such as ‘Sports Night,’ ‘G vs E,’ and ‘Becker.’ He had another big break in 2000, when he began playing ‘Inspector Antwon Babcock’ in 22 episodes of the series ‘Nash Bridges.’
He then played the supporting role of ‘Dr. Sam Magala’ in the series ‘Providence.’
In the early 2000s, Cress mainly appeared in guest roles in series such as ‘The District,’ ‘Touched by an Angel,’ ‘Watching Ellie,’ and ‘The Lyon’s Den.’
In 2004, he appeared in the supporting role of ‘Phil’ in the romantic comedy–drama film ‘Little Black Book.’ The film was a huge critical and commercial debacle.
In 2006, he was chosen to play the role of ‘Detective Ed Williams’ in the crime drama ‘Close to Home.’ He appeared in the second season of the series and received critical acclaim for his portrayal.
He started getting better roles by the end of the 2000s. He first appeared playing the supporting role of ‘Tucker Jones’ in the medical drama ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ In 2008, he earned the supporting role of ‘Wyatt Matthewson’ in the fourth season of the crime-drama series ‘Prison Break.’
In 2008, he appeared in the supporting role of ‘Dante’ in the film ‘Ball Don’t Lie.’
In 2010, he played ‘Ornette Howard’ in 10 episodes of the popular American drama ‘Friday Night Lights.’
He earned the biggest break of his career in 2011, when he was cast as ‘Lavon Hayes,’ a key role in the comedy–drama series ‘Hart of Dixie.’ The hugely successful series ran for four seasons, spanning 76 episodes, with Cress appearing in all the episodes.
In 2015, he appeared in a supporting role in the series ‘Code Black.’
In 2018, he played the lead role of ‘Jefferson Pierce’/‘Black Lightning’ in the superhero TV series titled ‘Black Lightning.’ The series has received good reviews and has also been a commercial success.
He has also voiced the character of ‘John Henry Irons’ in the direct-to-TV animated films ‘The Death of Superman’ and ‘Reign of the Supermen.’