DJ Qualls
Birth Date:
June 12, 1978
Birth Place:
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
6' 1" (1.85 m)
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Hated Tennessee


“It’s amazing. Last week I was eating Ramen noodles.” DJ Qualls on his dramatic success

American actor DJ Qualls may be best known as shy, nerdy Kyle Edwards from the teen comedy movie Road Trip (2000). Soon after, the performer with a very thin body was seen in films like The New Guy (2002, starred as Dizzy Harrison/Gil Harris), the sci-fi thriller The Core (2003) and the indie film Hustle & Flow (2005, earned a Screen Actors Guild nomination for his turn as computer genius Theodore Donald ‘Rat’ Finch).

“When I grew up, I hated Tennessee. Now I love it and I can’t get enough of it and I wish I was there right now. I just wanted to get out of there so much because it couldn't offer me what I wanted out of life. There was so many things that I wanted for myself and I couldn’t get it there.” DJ Qualls

Qualls, who once battled cancer, has a new positive perspective on his hometown. Previously, as a teen, the actor studied in England in order to get out of Tennessee.

Surviving Hodgkin

Childhood and Family:

Donald Joseph Qualls, later simply billed as DJ Qualls, was born on June 12, 1978, in Nashville, Tennessee. His parents, Debbie and Donnie Qualls (works in a casket factory in Manchester, Tennessee), were divorced in 1983. He later grew up in Green Hills, Tennessee.

At age 14, Donald began his two-year battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a form of cancer), which resulted in the removal of his spleen. Surviving the disease, the student of Coffee County Central High School (Manchester, Tennessee) decided to fly to England and attend the University of London (majored in English). After returning to the Unites States, Donald attended Belmont University in Nashville, worked briefly as a paralegal and began acting with local theater companies.

Work for Prada


DJ Qualls’ entertainment career began after being discovered by photographers David LaChappelle and Steve Klein, who were attracted by his boyish look. In 1999, Qualls landed a print-modeling job for high-end label Prada. Nonetheless, Qualls, who had a minor role as Jason in the TV drama Mama Flora’s Family (1998), was so interested in acting that he continued it in the teen horror feature Cherry Falls (2000, played Wally).

Qualls immediately caught viewers’ attention when director Todd Phillips cast him to play Kyle Edwards, the shy and geeky college student taken along on an outrageous trip, in the teen comedy Road Trip (2000). It soon brought him leading roles in other teen-targeted movies, such as the drama Chasing Holden (2001, as Neil Lawrence) and the comedy The New Guy (2002, costarred as Dizzy Harrison/Gil Harris, opposite Eliza Dushku and Zooey Deschanel).

“I don’t ever want to direct because my actors would hate me. I don’t think I could let go like that because I like to act so much. I could never direct a comedy. I would be stabbed to death in my hotel room. But I do want to produce my own movies.” DJ Qualls

Although showing no interest in directing, Qualls did try producing with the little comedy film Comic Book Villain (2002), which ended up as a video release. Featuring actors Donal Logue, Cary Elwes, Michael Rapaport, Natasha Lyonne and himself (as Archie the comic book collector), the movie presented the story of a rivalry between two comic book shop owners.

A year later, Qualls was seen as Theodore Donald ‘Rat’ Finch, the computer hacker joining a team trying to save the world from catastrophe, in the sci-fi thriller The Core (2003), alongside Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Stanley Tucci, Tchéky Karyo and Alfre Woodard. It was followed by his featured turn as church organist-turned-rap-producer Shelby in the indie film Hustle & Flow (2005, earned a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Best Ensemble). Qualls also made guest performances in such acclaimed series as “Lost” (2005) and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (2006).

In 2007, Qualls will appear as Everette in the comedy movie Delta Farce, directed by C.B. Harding. Still in the comedy genre, he is now filming the sport-themed The Comebacks (set for release in 2007).


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