Pittsburgh born, Chicago raised actor Sharif Atkins is probably best known to television viewers for playing the handsome doctor Michael Gallant on the popular medical series “ER” (61 episodes, 2001-2006). Starting out in small stage productions in Chicago, the Northwestern University graduate, who once worked as a waiter and a Victoria's Secret stock boy, went on to have recurring roles in UPN's “Eve” (2005), USA Network's “The 4400” (2005-2006) and CBS' “Numb3rs” (2007-2008) before landing a regular gig on “White Collar” (USA Network, 2009-2010), where he was cast as Special Agent Clinton Jones. Atkins has also appeared in episodes of “Early Edition,” “That's Life,” “Arli$$,” “Close to Home,” “Cold Case,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: Miami” and “The Good Wife” as well as in the films “Paved with Good Intentions” (2006) and “Preacher's Kid” (2010).
Currently, Atkins lives in Los Angeles, California.
Childhood and Family:
Sharif Atkins was born on January 29, 1975, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a lawyer father (David) and a museum executive mother (Jacqueline). When he was six years old, he moved with his family to Chicago. He graduated from Whitney Young High school in Chicago, Illinois, and got his bachelor's degree in theater/speech from Northwestern University in 1997. He was a member of the Theta Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Sharif has a sister named Makeba Atkins, who works as a mechanical engineer.
Sharif Atkins made his acting debut playing a strawberry in a fourth grade play. He did not decide to become an actor until he took part in a summer theater arts program at nearby Northwestern University. After graduating college, he worked in small stage productions and appeared in the movie “Light It Up” (1999), which was written and directed by Craig Bolotin and starred Usher Raymond, Forest Whitaker and Rosario Dawson. He also appeared in the television series “Early Edition” (1996-2000), which starred Kyle Chandler as Gary Hobson. In “Early Edition,” Atkins first appeared as a cashier in the 1998 episode “The Fourth Carpathian” and then as a bodyguard in the 1999 episode “Number One with a Bullet.” He was then featured in the pilot of “Turks,” a short lived CBS series starring William Devane, Matthew John Armstrong, Michael Muhney and David Cubitt.
Atkins quickly landed an agent after moving to Los Angeles and appeared in episodes of “That's Life” (2001), “The District” (2001) and “Arli$$” (2002). His big break arrived when he won the role of Dr. Michael Gallant on the NBC long running medical series “ER,” for creator Michael Crichton. Atkins appeared in sixty one episodes between November 2001 and May 2006. He also delivered a notable portrayal of Joe Royal in “The Big Time,” a two hour pilot for “ER” executive producer John Wells that aired on October 20, 2002. On set, he caught the attention of Wells and was offered the reoccurring role of Gallant in “ER.”
In 2004, Atkins starred as ex-Chicago Police Detective John Declan in the short lived police series “Hawaii,” which ran on NBC from September to October 2004. Costars of the show included Ivan Sergei, Eric Balfour, Aya Sumika, Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Michael Biehn. The same year, he starred as Maynard Lassiter, who struggles with a rare kidney disease, in “Something for Nothing,” a short film written and directed by Montae Russell.
In 2005, Atkins landed the recurring role of Grant on the UPN sitcom “Eve,” which starred rapper Eve as Shelley, Ali Landry as Rita Lefleur and Natalie Desselle-Reid as Janie Egins. The same year, he also appeared as Gary Navarro in an episode of the critically acclaimed science fiction series “The 4400” called “Voices Carry,” which aired on June 12, 2005. He went on to reprise the role in two more episodes in 2006 titled “The New World” and “The Home Front.”
2009 saw Atkins guest star in the television series “My Manny” (as Mike), “Cold Case” (as James Valentine), “Criminal Minds” (as William Hightower) and “CSI: Miami” (as Mathew Sloan). He also played Ralph in the television film “The New 20s: Episodes 1,” alongside Ray Campbell, David Haley and Erin Leshawn Wiley. However, Atkins did not return to series television as a regular until he was cast as Special Agent Clinton Jones in “White Collar,” a police procedural show that debuted on USA Network on October 23, 2009. Costars of the series include Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, Willie Garson, Marsha Thomason, Tiffani Thiessen and Natalie Morales.
In addition to acting in the series “White Collar” in 2010, Atkins played the supporting role of Wynton in the feature drama “Preacher's Kid” for director/writer Stan Foster, and portrayed Assistant United States Attorney Harrison Rivers in an episode of “The Good Wife” called “Fleas.” Premiering on CBS on September 22, 2009, the series “The Good Wife” stars Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Archie Panjabi, Graham Phillips, Makenzie Vega, Alan Cumming, Josh Charles and Christine Baranski.