“I wasn't a cheerleader or the prom queen. I don't move through the world with a mirror in front of my face and I've never been attracted to projects that had an emphasis on what I look like.” Michael Michele
First making an impact as Wesley Snipes' girlfriend in the crime film “New Jack City” (1991), African American actress Michael Michele received even more attention during the late 1990s and early 2000s thanks largely to her prospering partnership with NBC in the praised primetime series “Homicide: Life On The Street” (1998-1999) and “ER” (1999-2002), where she played Detective Rene Sheppard and Dr. Cleo Finch, respectively. She took home two Image nominations for both shows and shared two SAG nominations for the latter. With a newfound fame, Michele rebuilt her big screen career and scored a blockbuster hit with Donald Petrie's “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” (2003), from which she picked up a Teen Choice nomination for playing the villainous role of Spears. She also played roles in Michael Mann's “Ali” (2001) and Ron Shelton's “Dark Blue” (2002, earned a Black Reel nomination).
After leaving “ER,” Michele, who is frequently cast as professional women, starred in the UPN short-lived series “Kevin Hill” (2004-2005) and the failed pilots “Company Town” (CBS, 2006) and “Judy’s Got a Gun” (ABC, 2007). She also worked her with “ER” costar, Eriq La Salle, in the TV film “Relative Stranger” (2008).
On a more personal note, Michele, who has apartments in Los Angeles and New York, and her boyfriend, Jimmy Rodriguez, a restaurateur from New York, has a young son named Brandon. She is an avid jazz fan and enjoys running and playing basketball.
Michele was once named one of People magazine's “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.”
Childhood and Family:
Michael Michele Williams was born on August 30, 1966, in Evansville, Indiana, to Caucasian business consultant Jerry Williams and African-American businesswoman Thersa Williams. She has one sister.
Young Michael was educated at Howard Roosa Elementary School in Evansville. She went on to attend Benjamin Bosse High School, where she played various sports like basketball, volleyball and ran track. As part of her school’s star basketball team, she helped the team make the Indiana state championships. Michael graduated in 1984.
One of the few female celebrities named Michael, the 5' 9” beauty got her masculine name from her mother's girlfriend, Michael Ann.
Michael gave birth to a baby boy named J. Brandon Rodriguez on December 21, 2004.
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
After graduating high school, Michael Michele moved to New York to pursue acting. The attractive girl immediately landed work in commercials and by the late 1980s, had appeared in television ads for Revlon, Old Spice and Kentucky Fried Chicken. She also appeared in music videos for singer Freddie Jackson.
Her work in commercials attracted Eddie Murphy, who offered Michele a role in his feature film directorial debut “Harlem Nights” (1989). She, however, was cut out of the movie after claiming the popular comedian approached her sexually. She then filed a suit against Murphy. The suit was finally settled out of court.
After a bit part in “Def by Temptation” (1990), Michele gained notice as Selina in “New Jack City” (1991), which was directed by Mario Van Peebles. In the movie, she starred opposite Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen Payne, Chris Rock, and Van Peebles. Also that year, Michele made her TV movie debut in “Private Times,” alongside Martin Lawrence.
Michele continued to work on television. She secured her first regular role in the short-lived CBS series “Dangerous Curves” in 1992 and starred in her first miniseries, “Trade Winds” (NBC), in 1993. From 1994 to 1995, Michele played the recurring role of Sandra, an attorney romanced by Detective James 'J.C.' William (played by Malik Yoba), in the Fox police series “New York Undercover.” She returned to series TV as a regular in the Darren Star-created nighttime soap “Central Park West/C.P.W.,” playing an art gallery owner named Nikki Sheridan. Debuting on September 1994, the drama was a flop with audience and canceled in June 1996.
After “C.P.W.” left the air, Michele revisited the cinematic industry with “The Sixth Man” (1997), a comedy directed by Randall Miller and co-written by Christopher Reed and Cynthia Carle. In the movie, she was cast as a sportscaster who falls in love with basketball player Kenny Tyler (played by Marlon Wayans). Also starring in the movie were Kadeem Hardison and David Paymer. Michele, however, soon returned to the small screen where she portrayed Kara Lavelle in the made-for-TV thriller “The Substitute 2: School's Out” (1998), opposite Treat Williams, supported Craig T. Nelson and Kim Cattrall in the TV version of “Peter Benchley’s 'Creature'” (1998) and appeared in episodes of “Oddville, MTV” (1997) and “Players” (1998).
The Indiana native's luck started to change when Michele joined the cast of the acclaimed drama series “Homicide: Life on the Street,” as Detective Rene Sheppard, in the final season (1998-1999), where she was nominated for a 2000 Image award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. Detective Rene Sheppard also appeared in an episode of “Law & Order” in 1999 called “Sideshow” and in the TV movie version “Homicide: The Movie” in 2000.
Michele went on to join NBC in the long-running medical series “ER.” In the series, she played Dr. Cleo Finch, the love interest of Eriq LaSalle, from 1999 to 2002. The role brought the actress an Image nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2001) and two Screen Actors Guild nominations in the category of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2000, 2001). Riding high on her TV success, Michele took on the supporting role of glamorous Veronica Porsche in the biopic “Ali” (2001), which was directed by Michael Mann and starred Will Smith as boxing legend Mohammed Ali.
2002 saw Michele star with Kurt Russell and Scott Speedman in “Dark Blue,” a police drama helmed by Ron Shelton. As devoted L.A. police officer Beth Williamson, she picked up a Black Reel nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Michele also enjoyed box office success the following year with the surprise hit “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days,” directed by Donald Petrie. Appearing opposite Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Adam Goldberg and Kathryn Hahn, she received a Teen Choice nomination in the category of Choice Movie Villain for her role of Spears.
Michele resumed her TV career by working with Kate Levering, Taye Diggs, Jon Seda, Patrick Breen and Christina Hendricks in the UPN drama series “Kevin Hill” (2004-2005). The show, however, only lasted 22 episodes. She next portrayed Detective Baines in the CBS TV film “The Hunt for the BTK Killer” (2005), opposite Robert Forster, and tried to make a comeback to series TV with the CBS political drama “Company Town” (2006), which failed to ignite audiences. She appeared the following year in ABC's “Judy’s Got a Gun,” where she starred as single mother and detective Pamela Coates. Also in 2007, Michele landed guest spots in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “House M.D.”
In 2008, the forty-something actress has a post production TV film under her belt called “Relative Stranger.” Directed by Charles Burnett and written by Eric Haywood, the drama also stars her previous “ER” costar Eriq La Salle, Dan Castellaneta, Dana Davis and Cicely Tyson.