Childhood & Early Life
Gary Dourdan was born on December 11, 1966, in Pennsylvania, into an affluent business family. His mother, Sandy, was a highly prolific teacher and fashion designer, and his father was a businessman who also served as a manager for jazz musicians in the region. The family had six children, and Gary was the fourth child of his parents.
An eccentric personality, Gary exhibited his talent in the early phases of his life. His family knew he could act and sing well. With his father being a talent manager for musicians, Gary soon developed an affinity to music. He started taking music classes and taught himself a lot of instruments too.
Gary also did surprisingly well at sports, and the gym was one of his many passions. All set to embark upon a career in acting, he, along with his family, moved to New Jersey when he was still a teenager. Soon, he began training in martial arts too.
Around the early 1980s, he started working as a doorman to a popular New York studio in order to get acquainted with some of the artists who visited the studio. Eventually, he started getting modeling offers and was soon offered a contract by ‘Boss Models.’ Gary spent most of the 1980s and the 1990s modeling for various brands while making some good money at the same time.
Gary was soon successful in getting in touch with a few musicians. Once he became a well-known model, it was not too difficult for him to make his mark in the world of music. However, his perpetual love for acting had him auditioning for film and TV roles.
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Determined to make his mark as an actor, he did some avant-garde theater during his early New York days and was soon noticed by noted actor and director Debbie Allen. Following this, he made his TV debut with the sitcom ‘A Different World,’ in which Gary had a brief stint as a minor character.
Although ‘A Different World’ did very little for him in terms of exposure, it did boost his confidence and helped him do his best in his next few auditions.
In 1993, one of his modeling photographs got Janet Jackson to hire him for the music video of her hit song ‘Again.’
In 1996, he made a brief appearance in the episode ‘Never On Sunday’ of the popular show ‘Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.’ In 1997, he featured in one of the biggest films of the year, ‘Alien: Resurrection,’ as the second-in-command of the spaceship ‘Betty.’ However, this was a very small role.
Tired of playing minor roles in big productions, he wished for some change. Although he was unsuccessful in getting any major role, he decided to go with the flow. During the late 1990s, he became part of two critically acclaimed films, ‘Playing God’ and ‘Thursday.’
He then appeared in ‘Soul Food’ and ‘Swift Justice’ and played small, recurring roles in both of them.
In the year 2000, Gary earned the biggest break of his career. He was selected to play a key role in the popular police-procedural series ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.’
In ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,’ he played the role of ‘Warrick Brown,’ who uses his past as a gambling addict to solve crimes as an analyst. Although ‘Warrick’ works fine, he eventually becomes a victim to his old habits, and instead of helping the law, he falls deeper into the pits of illegal activities.
His long-term stint with ‘CSI’ established him as a promising actor, and he started getting meatier roles. In 2000, he appeared in the TV film ‘King of the World,’ which was based on the early phases of the life of the renowned boxer Muhammad Ali. Gary portrayed the highly controversial black rights advocate Malcolm X.
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The 2007 thriller ‘Perfect Stranger’ saw Gary playing a major role along with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. The next year, he turned into a voice actor and lent his voice to the character of ‘Crispus Allen’ in three of the six short films of the ‘DC’ animation ‘Batman: Gotham Knight.’
In the 2011 romantic comedy–drama film ‘Jumping the Broom,’ he essayed the widely admired role of ‘Chef McKenna.’
His other noteworthy appearances include his roles in ‘Being Mary Jane’ and ‘Glee.’
Gary has garnered immense respect as a musician too. He works from time to time as a record producer and musician, mostly dealing with alternative forms of music. However, most of his music has not yet been released, and only his die-hard fans seem to have access to his music.
His music-video appearances too increased ever since he became a popular actor. He has appeared in music videos for Janet Jackson and ‘Erik B. & Rakim.’ He also performed on stage with Macy Gray during the 2005 ‘Emmy Awards.’
He has been frequently termed as one of the most attractive actors on ‘CSI.’ In 2008, ‘TV Guide’ mentioned him as the sexiest actor on the show.
Gary Dourdan plays a lawman in the series ‘CSI.’ However, in real life, he is quite different from the character. He has had several conflicts with the law. He has been booked twice for possession of drugs, once in 2008 and then in 2011. Later in 2011, he was again arrested for breaking his girlfriend’s nose during a domestic fight.
Gary’s older brother died when Gary was 6 years old. Gary still remembers the incident well. His brother’s death seemed like murder, but the case remains unsolved to date.
He fell in love with model Roshumba Williams during his modeling days. The couple got married in 1992. However, they divorced two years later. Soon, Gary began dating Cynthia Hadden and had a son with her. He had another child, a daughter, with Jennifer Sutton.