An American actor who started acting in his 30s, Chi McBride first came to prominence as the wisecracking, philosophical janitor on the NBC television series “The John Larroquette Show” (1993-1996) and as a fictional British chief servant to American President Abraham Lincoln in the short-lived UPN series “The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer” (1998). He gained even more popularity and appreciation for his role as the overwhelmed principal, Steven Harper, in the fox sitcom “Boston Public” (2000-2004), where he picked up an AFI, Television Critics Association and Golden Satellite nominations. He is also remarkable for his TV roles on the series “House M.D.” and “Killer Instinct” (both 2005) and in the HBO film Cosmic Slop (1994).
Frequently cast as a wisecracking friend to the lead character, McBride is also a fruitful movie actor. Since making his debut in 1992’ The Distinguished Gentleman, with Eddie Murphy, he has appeared in a number of vehicles, including the Oscar-nominated What’s Love Got To Do With It (1993), Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (1996), Hoodlum (1997), Mercury Rising (1998), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), the Disney The Kid (2000), Joe Carnahan’s Narc (2002), Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal (2004), I, Robot (2005), and more recently in Disney’s drama Annapolis (2006), opposite James Franco.
Off camera, the Chicago native performer has spent his life outside the limelight with his wife of 24 years, Katie McKinley, and their eight children.
Childhood and Family:
Chi McBride was born on September 23, 1961, in Chicago, Illinois. His name ‘Chi’ (pronounced ‘shy’) derives from his hometown of Chicago. McBride left Chicago for Atlanta, Georgia, in pursuit of a career in music. There, he also took a job as a telephone operator for MCI. Later, he relocated to Los Angeles to give acting a try.
The 6’ 5” tall actor has been married to Katie McKinley since February 1982. He now becomes the father of eight children.
The John Larroquette Show
Born and raised in Chicago, Chi McBride originally wanted to become a singer/musician. To full fill his dreams, he learned several instruments and practiced his singing talent with gospel choirs in his hometown. In 1986, the heavyset African-American made his way to Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked as a telephone operator with MCI, and then scored success with his hit song, “He’s the Champ,” which caricatured the nuptials of boxer Mike Tyson and actress Robin Givens. This landed McBride a recording deal with Esquire Records and he joined the blues and rhythm group Covert. McBride did not pursue a career in acting until he relocated to Los Angeles in early 1990s.
After the move, the singer made his debut in front of the camera with guest starring roles in episodes of Fox’s “In Living Color” and the NBC “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” as well as a bit part in the Fox made-for-TV-film Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation (all 1992). The same year, he also kicked off his film career with the Eddie Murphy vehicle The Distinguished Gentleman, which was followed by a role in the Academy Award-nominated What’s Love Got To Do With It, the next year.
By 1993, McBride had worked his way up the television ladder to series regular on NBC’s sitcom “The John Larroquette Show” (1993-1996), in which he memorably portrayed the gruff bus station gatekeeper Heavy Gene. He continued to make good reputation with his acclaimed, starring turn as T-Bone in the Hudlin Brothers production Tang, a segment of HBO’s Cosmic Slop Trilogy.
McBride was cast as one third of ghosts in cahoots with Michael J. Fox in the Peter Jackson-directed The Frighteners (1996), offered a memorable supporting role along side Laurence Fishburne, Tim Roth, Vanessa Williams and Andy Garcia in Bill Duke’s Hoodlum (1997) and began his onscreen collaboration with Bruce Willis in the action/thriller film Mercury Rising (1998). The actor made his return to sitcom as an imaginary British butler to US President Abraham Lincoln in the somewhat controversial UPN series “The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer” in 1998. But, the show was soon cancelled.
McBride then was seen in such films as the comedy Magicians (2000), the ABC biopic Muhammad Ali: King of the World (2000, as Drew ‘Bundini’ Brown), Dancing in September (2000, appeared as a security guard), The Nicholas Cage vehicle Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) and Disney’s The Kid (2000, re-teamed with Bruce Willis). However, it was his small screen role in the David E. Kelly-created “Boston Public” that won McBride attention. Playing the besieged principal of a big city high school Steven Harper from 2000 to 2004, he collected such nominations as a Television Critics Association for Individual Achievement in Drama in 2001, an AFI for Actor of the Year in 2002, a Golden Satellite for Best Performance by an Actor in 2003.
While starring on the Fox sitcom, McBride also made several films. He costarred with Dan Leis, Jason Patric and Lloyd Adams in Joe Carnahan’s Narc (2002), appeared as The Chief in the comedy Undercover Brother (2002), teamed up with Wood Harris and Mekhi Phifer in the drama Paid in Full (2002) and had an uncredited part as Jump Chambers in the Jet Li starring vehicle Cradle 2 the Grave (2003). In 2004, McBride was exposed to a wide audience when he was cast opposite Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in the Steven Spielberg-helmed The Terminal, playing a sympathetic baggage carousel worker named Mulroy, and opposite Will Smith in the sci-fi thriller I, Robot, as a cop lieutenant.
After the diminish of “Boston Public,” McBride’s Steven Harper role was featured in a 2005 episode of “Boston Legal,” a spin off of “The Practice” that focused on Civil War. The same year, he also appeared as Edward Vogler in the drama series “House M.D.,” starring Huge Laurie and Omar Epps, and starred as Lt. Matt Cavanaugh, with Johnny Messner, in the short-lived crime-thriller series “Killer Instinct.” On the wide screen, McBride portrayed a dishwasher in the low-budget slice-of-life comedy Waiting (2005, opposite Justin Long) and appeared with Bow Wow in the comedy Roll Bounce (2005).
The 45-year-old actor recently found himself acting with James Franco, Donnie Wahlberg, Jordana Brewster and McCaleb Burnett in the Disney drama Annapolis (2006) for director Justin Lin. He plays Malcolm in the television series “The Nine” (2006). As for his upcoming projects, McBride is set to play roles in the comedies Let’s Go to Prison (2006) and The Brothers Solomon (2007), both directed by Bob Odenkirk.