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Terrence Howard is an American actor best known for his award-nominated performance in the 2005 film Hustle & Flow.
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Born on March 11, 1969, in Chicago, Illinois, actor Terrence Howard gained prominence with roles in films such as Mr. Holland's Opus, Ray and Crash. His performance in the 2005 film Hustle & Flow garnered him Oscar, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations. In addition to film, Howard has performed on television and on Broadway, and as a singer on his own album.
"While other kids were in acting school, I was collecting a reservoir of life experiences so I understand the underlying motivations behind the acting. That's not something you can learn in class. You have to live it."
"My father always said that 'if you want oranges, you have to go to where the oranges grow.' I wanted to act. The place to act was in New York."
"I always wanted to be rich and famous, but it was for all of the wrong reasons. I think I wanted it mainly to sleep with as many women as I could. But, coming so late, I can appreciate the success so much more. It's important that I don't waste this opportunity."
Terrence Dashon Howard was born on March 11, 1969, in Chicago, Illinois. The great-grandson of stage actress Minnie Gentry, he was raised in Cleveland by father Tyrone Howard and mother Anita Williams. Howard experienced a rocky childhood, enduring disciplinary beatings from his physically abusive father, and even witnessing his father stabbing another man when he was just 2 years old. The killing resulted in Tyrone Howard spending 11 months in jail for manslaughter. Howard's parents divorced upon his father's release.
Terrence Howard legally divorced himself from his parents at the age of 16, living off of welfare before moving to New York City to pursue acting at age 18. He revealed, "My father always said that 'if you want oranges, you have to go to where the oranges grow.' I wanted to act. The place to act was in New York."
Howard attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where he majored in chemical engineering. He dropped out after two years, however, and began receiving small acting roles, including a part on The Cosby Show alongside Bill Cosby.
Other television opportunities followed, including a title role in the 1992 ABC miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream, and 1994 appearances on the TV programs Family Matters, Coach and Picket Fences.
Terrence Howard's career ramped up when he moved to film. Significant roles came in 1995, including in the films Dead Presidents and Mr. Holland's Opus, featuring Richard Dryfuss. Howard received accolades for his performance in The Best Man (1999), and went on to land major roles in Big Momma's House (2000), co-starring with Martin Lawrence; Angel Eyes (2001), starring Jennifer Lopez; Hart's War (2002); Biker Boys (2003); and Ray (2004), featuring Jamie Foxx.
After appearing in the Academy Award-winning (best picture) film Crash (2004), Howard received a National Board of Review Award for best breakthrough performance. His A-list status continued thereafter. His role as Djay in the film Hustle & Flow (2005), also starring Ludacris and Taraji Henson, garnered Howard Oscar, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe award nominations.
Howard later pursued interests beyond TV and film: He debuted on Broadway's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 2008, and, that same year, released his first studio album, Shine Through It, which includes a mix of R&B, soul and pop genres. Acting was never too far away, however: The actor went on to star in the film Winnie (2011) as Nelson Mandela, and began working on several projects thereafter, including the 2013 films Dead Man Down and The Butler, based on the life of longtime White House butler Eugene Allen.
Check out BIO’s original video series, American Freedom Stories, about the historic events of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, and the leaders and everyday heroes who fought to make racial equality a reality. Watch videos.
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Get more on the high-profile cast of The Butler, the 2013 biopic based on the life of longtime White House butler Eugene Allen, who served under eight U.S. presidents, including Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Over his decades-long career, Allen, an African American, witnessed firsthand the nation's changing perspectives on race, as well as several major historical events. Directed by Lee Daniels, The Butler stars Forest Whitaker as the title character and Oprah Winfrey as his wife. The film's large supporting cast includes Mariah Carey, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Matthew McConaughey, Liev Schreiber, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, John Cusack, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo and Robin Williams.
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