Cuba Gooding Jr. Biography

Actor (1968–)
Cuba Gooding Jr. is an African-American actor who is best known for his Oscar-winning role in Cameron Crowe's film 'Jerry Maguire.'


Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. was born on January 2, 1968, in the Bronx, New York. He landed a small role in the TV series Hill Street Blues and made his big screen debut in Coming to America. Two years later, Gooding played Tre Styles in Boyz 'N the Hood. In 1996, he won an Oscar for his supporting role in Jerry Maguire. Gooding went on to appear in such films as Men of Honor (2000), American Gangster (2007) and Selma (2014). He also stars in the 2016 television series, American Crime Story: People v. O.J. Simpson.

Early Life and Career

Academy Award-winning actor Cuba M. Gooding Jr. was born on January 2, 1968, in the Bronx, New York. He is the son of singers Cuba and Shirley Gooding. His father enjoyed some success with his funk group The Main Ingredient. The band enjoyed its biggest hit, "Everybody Plays the Fool," in 1972. Around this time, Cuba Gooding Jr. moved with his family to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, his father soon abandoned the family.

Gooding started out in commercials before getting a small role on the gritty drama Hill Street Blues in 1986. Inspired by his success, he enrolled in acting classes and made his big screen debut in 1988's Coming to America. Two years later, he was given an opportunity to show his acting talent as Tre Styles in Boyz 'N the Hood. More supporting roles followed, including a highly regarded performance in 1992's hit A Few Good Men.

Acclaimed Actor

Gooding's career reached new heights in 1996 with the sports drama Jerry Maguire. He proved to be quite the scene stealer as football player Rod "Show me the money" Tidwell in Cameron Crowe's acclaimed film. Gooding did more than hold his own opposite his co-star Tom Cruise in this widely praised work. He showed great comedic talent and had an electric screen presence. It was no surprise that Gooding won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his performance.

The acclaim lead to a number of roles in feature films, including As Good as It Gets (1997) alongside Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt and What Dreams May Come (1998) co-starring Robin Williams. In 1999, he appeared opposite Anthony Hopkins in Instinct and had a starring role in the action film Chill Factor

Gooding's film career was hit or miss over the next few years. The family comedy Snow Dogs (2002) did well at the box office while interest in his musical The Fighting Temptations (2003), which also featured Beyoncé Knowles, tapered off after an initially strong start. He went on to appear in the lackluster action film Shadowboxer (2006) and the Eddie Murphy flop Norbit (2007). Gooding also had a supporting role in the critically acclaimed crime drama American Gangster (2007).

Recent Projects

Gooding has tackled an interesting mix of projects, ranging from film to stage to television roles. He has made the most of supporting roles in such highly praised dramas as The Butler (2013) and Selma (2014). In 2013, Gooding hit the Broadway stage in a revival of Horton Foote play The Trip to Bountiful.

On the small screen, Gooding has enjoyed guest spots on such shows as Forever and Empire. He also stars in the upcoming series American Crime Story: People v. O.J. Simpson. While he did a lot of research for the role, Gooding wasn't interested in meeting his subject in person. He told the Hollywood Reporter that he is playing "the O.J. Simpson who everyone loved—not just an athlete, but a movie star" in this TV project. Gooding sees Simpson, currently in prison, as "a broken man” today.

Personal Life

Gooding has three children from his marriage to Sara Kapfer. They have two sons, Spencer and Mason, and a daughter, Piper. Wed in 1994, the couple announced plans to divorce in 2014.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!