Obba Babatundé Biography


Birthday: December 1, 1951 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Jamaica, New York, United States

Obba Babatundé is an American actor, voice actor, producer, director, and singer. He has carved a niche for himself on stage, on TV, and in feature films. As a child, he showed a keen interest in arts and was an expert at playing various instruments and singing. Later, he evolved into an actor. He began performing at various small venues and gradually moved from ‘Off-Off-Broadway’ to ‘Off-Broadway,’ and then to ‘Broadway.’ As his career progressed, he started getting TV and film roles. He has been part of many well-known projects, such as ‘The Celestine Prophecy,’ ‘The Manchurian Candidate,’ ‘After the Sunset,’ ‘The Notebook,’ ‘John Q,’ ‘Philadelphia,’ ‘The Bold and The Beautiful,’ and ‘The Young and the Restless.’ Some of his most famous plays are ‘Chicago,’ ‘Sammy,’ and ‘A Soldiers Play.’
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Donald Cohen

Age: 71 Years, 71 Year Old Males


siblings: Akin Babatunde

Born Country: United States

Actors Black Actors

Height: 5'9" (175 cm), 5'9" Males

Ancestry: Nigerian American

U.S. State: New Yorkers, African-American From New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Jamaica High School, Brooklyn College

awards: 1997 · Miss Evers' Boys - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
1982 · Dreamgirls - Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical
2000 · Introducing

Dorothy Dandridge - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie
Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
1998 · Chicago - Helen Hayes Awards for outstanding Supporting Performer
Visiting Production

Childhood & Early Life
Obba was born Donald Cohen on December 1, 1951, in Jamaica in Queens Borough, New York City, New York, U.S. He is of Nigerian descent. Acclaimed actor, director, and writer Akin Babatundé is his brother.
He showed interest in performing arts at a tender age. He was not only drawn to acting, singing, and dancing, but he also began playing musical instruments quite early. By the age of 14, he was adept at playing 10 brass instruments.
He graduated from the ‘Jamaica High School’ in 1969. Soon after, he started working as a teacher and administrator at the ‘Harriet Tubman School,’ a privately managed school for children of color.
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Major Stage Credits
While teaching, Obba also acted on stage occasionally. Over time, he started getting more stage roles. As he grew busier with acting, he discontinued teaching.
During this period, he acted in a lot of ‘Off-Off Broadway’ and ‘Off-Broadway’ productions.
He gained fame in 1976, after he joined the touring company of the musical ‘Guys and Dolls.’ This experience paved his path to other acting opportunities.
He made his ‘Broadway’ debut in 1978, after he was cast in ‘Timbuktu!’ He played various minor roles, such as an “orange merchant,” a “citizen of Timbuktu,” an “antelope,” and ‘The Chakaba.’
‘Reggae’ (1980) was his next ‘Broadway’ production. It featured him as ‘Esau’ (understudy). The same year, he acted as ‘Sharky’ in ‘It’s So Nice to be Civilized,’ another ‘Broadway’ production.
The following year, he portrayed ‘C.C. White’ in the ‘Broadway’ musical titled ‘Dreamgirls.’ His performance was highly appreciated. Three years later, he performed in the ‘Off-Off-Broadway’ revival of ‘Golden Boy.’
In 1985, he returned to ‘Broadway’ to play ‘Leroy’ in the original production ‘Grind.’ The same year, he had a part in the original ‘Off-Off-Broadway’ production ‘George White’s Scandals.’
He acted in the ‘West End’ production ‘King’ in 1988. Three years later, he appeared at the world premiere of ‘Jelly’s Last Jam.’
In 1996, he was the replacement for the character ‘Billy Flynn’ in the ‘Broadway’ revival of the musical ‘Chicago.’ The following year, he toured across the U.S. along with the troupe of the revived ‘Chicago,’ playing ‘Billy Flynn.’ He reprised this role at the ‘Richard Rodgers Theater’ in 2006, at the ‘Shubert Theater’ in 2008, and at the ‘Ambassador Theater’ in 2010 (all in New York).
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He played ‘Sammy Davis Jr.’ in ‘Sammy’ at ‘The Old Globe Theater’ in 2009. The following year, he portrayed ‘Sergeant Vernon C. Waters’ in ‘A Soldier’s Play.’
He was part of the play ‘Fraternity,’ staged at the ‘Nate Holden Performing Arts Center’ in 2013.
In 2017, he was seen as ‘Nomax’ in ‘Five Guys Named Moe,’ again at ‘Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.’
In early 2020, he returned as ‘Billy Flynn’ in ‘Chicago.’
Major Screen Credits
In the 1980s, he made several small-screen appearances, in both series and TV movies. Some of his TV projects from the decade were ‘America’s Musical Theater,’ ‘All My Children,’ ‘Leonard Part 6,’ ‘God Bless the Child,’ ‘Matlock,’ ‘CBS Summer Playhouse,’ ‘Married to the Mob,’ and ‘Heart and Soul.’
In the early 1990s, he appeared in TV projects such as ‘A Different World,’ ‘Miami Blues,’ ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ ‘Dead Again,’ ‘The Human Factor,’ ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ ‘Tales from the Crypt,’ and ‘Sisters.’
During the mid-1990s, he acted in shows and movies such as ‘Undercover Blues,’ ‘Necronomicon: Book of Dead,’ ‘Philadelphia,’ ‘The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.,’ ‘M.A.N.T.I.S.,’ ‘Getting By,’ ‘Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,’ ‘Tom,’ ‘Thunder in Paradise,’ ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’ ‘Touched By an Angel,’ ‘Under One Roof,’ ‘Born to be Wild,’ ‘Sliders,’ ‘Chicago Hope,’ ‘A Reason to Believe,’ ‘Fatal Pursuit,’ ‘Soul of the Game,’ ‘Multiplicity,’ ‘Carpool,’ ‘The Tomorrow Man,’ ‘That Thing You Do,’ and ‘The Cherokee Kid.’
Toward the end of the 1990s, he appeared in projects such as ‘Friends,’ ‘The Burning Zone,’ ‘Miss Evers’ Boys,’ ‘Sparks,’ ‘Spy Game,’ ‘The Temptations,’ ‘Life,’ ‘Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,’ ‘Xyber 9: New Dawn,’ ‘The Apartment Complex,’ and ‘Linc’s.’
During the same period, he appeared as ‘Principal Howard Green’ in eight episodes of the series ‘Dawson’s Creek’ also appeared in a voice role in 21 episodes of ‘Rocket Power’ (which continued till 2004).
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In the first decade of the new millennium, he appeared in notable projects such as ‘The Visit,’ ‘How High,’ ‘Soul Food,’ ‘John Q,’ ‘The Great Commission,’ ‘Karen Sisco,’ ‘The Notebook,’ ‘The Manchurian Candidate,’ ‘After the Sunset,’ ‘Joy Road,’ ‘Flip the Script,’ ‘The Celestine Prophecy’ ‘Material Girls,’ ‘Half & Half,’ ‘The Young and the Restless,’ ‘Boston Legal,’ ‘Cover,’ ‘Black Dynamite,’ ‘Why Am I Doing This?,’ and ‘I Do… I Did!’
During this decade, he also appeared in single-episode or two-episode roles in TV series (and TV movies) such as ‘The Invisible Man,’ ‘Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family,’ ‘Max Steel,’ ‘Any Day Now,’ ‘Family Law,’ ‘One Special Moment,’ ‘The Beast,’ ‘Redeemer,’ ‘ NYPD Blue,’ ‘Everwood,’ ‘Cold Case,’ ‘April Fools,’ ‘Girlfriends,’ ‘Psych,’ ‘Saving Grace,’ ‘NCIS,’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’
Some of his significant projects in the 2010s were ‘Trapped: Haitian Nights,’ ‘Winx Club: Enchantix,’ ‘The Last Fall,’ ‘Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups,’ ‘WInx Club: Beyond Believix,’ The Dead Sea,’ ‘Kingdom,’ Lap Dance,’ ‘Hand of God,’ ‘Death’s Door,’ ‘The Watcher,’ ‘Madam Secretary,’ ‘The Last Tycoon,’ ‘I’m Dying Up Here,’ ‘Detroiters,’ ‘Forever,’ ‘The Bold and The Beautiful,’ ‘Dear White People,’ ‘S.W.A.T., ’ and ‘Little Fires Everywhere.’
His upcoming projects are ’45 Seconds,’ ‘The Millennial,’ ‘Miss Havisham Effect,’ ‘A Polished Soul,’ ‘Fuhgedd About It,’ ‘Anna Lucasta,’ and ‘Walk By Faith.’
Other Credits
He worked as a producer, executive producer, director, and writer for a few movies, shows, and documentaries. In some of them, he acted, too. Some such projects are ‘Oscar’s Black Odyssey: From Hatte to Halle,’ ‘Dorothy Dandridge: Singing At Her Best,’ ‘T.V. in Black: The First Fifty Years,’ ‘Go Beyond the Lens,’ ‘Angels Around Me,’ ‘Dolls of Voodoo,’ ‘Clarissa’s Gift,’ ‘American Bad Boy,’ ‘Speculo,’ ‘The Fallen Faithful,’ and ‘If I Tell You I Have to Kill You.’
Obba received the ‘NAACP Theater Award’ for the “Best Lead Male” in 2010 for his role of ‘Sammy Davis Jr.’ in the musical ‘Sammy’
In 2011, he won the ‘NAACP Image Award’ for his portrayal of the lead character in ‘A Soldier’s Play.’
He won the ‘Daytime Emmy Award’ for “Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series” in 2016 for the series ‘The Bold and the Beautiful.’.
Family & Personal Life
Obba is married and also has two children.
Interestingly, Obba’s son, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather share the same birthday.
After he learned of his Nigerian ancestry, he adopted the name “Obba Babatundé.” In Yoruba, a language spoken in Nigeria, “Obba” means “king,” and “Babatundé” means “father has returned again.”

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