Name:
Mekhi Phifer
Birth Date:
December 24, 1974
Birth Place:
Harlem, New York, New York, USA
Height:
5' 10½
Nationality:
American
Famous for:
His role as Strike in 'Clockers' (1995)
Profession:
actor
BIOGRAPHY
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Clockers

Background:

Following his stunning debut as Strike, a 19-year-old petty drug dealer in Spike Lee's gritty urban drama Clockers (1995), Mekhi Phifer continued to amaze moviegoers with his roles in Soul Food (1997), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), O (2001), 8 Mile (2002), Paid in Full (2002), Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Puff, Puff, Pass (2006; he also produced and directed). On the small screen, he is most popular as Dr. Gregory "Greg" Pratt (2002-Present), a hot-headed African-American doctor struggling with his racial identity and cloudy past on NBC's long-running hit medical drama series “ER.” He also has a recurring role on HBO popular sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and appeared in the acclaimed TV movies The Tuskegee Airmen (1995), A Lesson Before Dying (1999) and Carmen: A Hip Hopera (2001).

The versatile actor will soon star in the upcoming films Slow Burn, Nora's Hair Salon II, A Talent for Trouble, This Christmas, and A Day in the Life. On a more personal note, the 5' 10½" tall actor has been dating Oni Souratha since 2006. He has one son with his former wife, actress Malinda Williams.

"I've dated interracially a lot. I grew up in Harlem, so I've dated Latins, Dominican, Guyanese, Cuban, Black, White... I got de-virginized by a Puerto Rican. I'm like the United Colors of Benetton. I believe whoever's right for whoever. Who the hell can judge that?" Mekhi Phifer.


Harlem Veteran

Childhood and Family:

In Harlem, New York, New York, Mekhi Phifer was born on December 24, 1974. Phifer has never met his father who separated from his mother, Rhoda Phifer, before he was born. Phifer has a twin brother. In 1994, he graduated from Lincoln Square Auxiliary Services High School, New York, New York.

From 1999 – 2003, Phifer was married to actress Malinda Williams (born on December 3, 1975), with ehom he has one son, Omikaye Phifer (born in 1999). In his free time, Phifer, a veteran of the Harlem streets who currently resides in Los Angeles, California, enjoys going to the rifle ranges around the city and target shooting to relieve stress and have fun. He good friends with “E.R.” costar Goran Visnjic and Eminem (Phifer was mentioned in Eminem's song "Lose Yourself").

"I've been through it... selling drugs, robbing. But my moms laid a foundation. I was straying the wrong path, but because of her I came back quick. And I'm not mama's boy, neither." Mekhi Phifer.


Dr. Greg Pratt

Career:

Initially planning to go to college to study electrical engineering, Mekhi Phifer, alongside his male cousin, attended an audition of Spike Lee's open casting call for his 1995 gritty urban drama film Clockers. Despite his lack of acting experience, Phifer eventually won the role of Lee's ambitious protagonist, Strike, a 19-year-old petty drug dealer, beating nearly 1,000 other considerable contestants. He subsequently began recording a rap album for Warner Bros and worked as the chief advisor to a start-up talent agency.

After his stunning Clockers debut, Phifer made his TV acting debut on HBO Golden Globe-nominated historical drama movie The Tuskegee Airmen (1995), alongside Laurence Fishburne. He followed it up with delivering another impressing role as Lem, Nia Long’s kind-hearted ex-con husband in George Tillman Jr.'s hit comedy drama Soul Food (1997; opposite Vanessa L. Williams and Vivica A. Fox).

The next year, Phifer co-starred with Jennifer Love Hewitt, Brandy Norwood and Freddie Prinze, Jr in Danny Cannon's teen horror sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, playing the boyfriend of Norwood's character. Meanwhile, TV audience could catch him playing Nathaniel Lee 'Junior Bunk' Mahoney (1996-1998), the late Luther Mahoney's (played by Erik Dellums) troubled nephew on NBC's highly acclaimed police procedural series "Homicide: Life on the Street." He also won Black Reel’s Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Jefferson, a young African-American with little formal education who is wrongly accused of the killing a white store owner on HBO's TV-movie adaptation of Ernest J. Gaines' 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying (1999; opposite Don Cheadle).

In the new millennium, Phifer had a supporting role in John Singleton's sequel/spinoff of the 1971 original film, Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson. He even further established himself as one of Hollywood's more photogenic up-and-comers after starring as Odin, Julia Stiles’ boyfriend, basketball star and the only African American student of an elite private school who is betrayed by his jealous best friend (played by Josh Hartnett) in O, Tim Blake Nelson's controversial teen film version of William Shakespeare's “Othello.”

Afterward, he was cast as Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers who helps his Chicago Bears running back teammate Brian Piccolo (played by Sean Maher) through his difficult struggle with terminal cancer in, Brian's Song (2001), an ABC remake of the hit 1971 made-for-TV movie then-starring James Caan and Billy Dee Williams. That same year, he also portrayed Derek Hill, an engaged young man who gets involved with Beyonce's seductive titular character on MTV's production of Carmen: A Hip Hopera.

2002 saw Phifer finding success on the small screen when he joined the cast of NBC's long-running hit medical drama series “ER,” playing Dr. Gregory "Greg" Pratt, a hot-headed African-American doctor struggling with his racial identity and cloudy past. Staying on the show from its 8th season until its current 13th season, Phifer has won two Image awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Phifer’s close pal off the set and “ER” co-star actor Goran Visnjic (Dr. Luka Kovac) commented about Phifer: "He's an open, happy person. Every day you say to Mekhi, 'Hey, how are you?' and he always says the same thing: 'Life is good, man, life is good.'"

During his “ER” stint, Phifer co-starred in Gary Fleder's sci-fi film based upon a short story written by Philip K. Dick in 1953, Impostor (with Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D'Onofrio and Tony Shalhoub), and co-starred as Future, best friend of Eminem’s character in the Academy Award-winning semi-autobiographical film of the white rapper, 8 Mile. He also starred in Charles Stone III-directed, Roc-A-Fella-produced Paid in Full, alongside Wood Harris, Cam'ron and Regina Hall. In the true story-based film takes place in Harlem at the height of the Crack Epidemic in the 1980s, Phifer played a Harlem young man who helped his best friend to build an illegal empire.

Next, Phifer starred with Jessica Alba in Bille Woodruff's dance drama Honey and starred opposite Ving Rhames, Sarah Polley and Jake Weber in Zack Snyder's remake of George A. Romero's apocalyptic 1978 horror film, Dawn of the Dead (2004). The following year, he landed a recurring role as Omar Jones on HBO popular sitcom "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Afterward, he went to produce, direct and co-star in the comedic stoner crime film Puff, Puff, Pass (2006; co-starring with Danny Masterson and Ronnie Warner), a hilarious look at America's weed culture.

Phifer’s will soon be seen in Slow Burn, Wayne Beach's crime drama film produced in 2003 and was given a showing at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. In the film, based on the a novel by Filipina American author Sabina Murray, Phifer co-stars with Jolene Blalock, Ray Liotta and LL Cool J. It is currently scheduled for American theatrical release on April 13, 2007. Phifer also has completed Jill Maxcy's comedy movie Nora's Hair Salon II (with Tatyana Ali, Stacey Dash and Bobby Brown) and will soon wrap Marvis Johnson's comedy film A Talent for Trouble, alongside Hassan Johnson, Roman Rivera and Brandon T. Jackson. Currently, Phifer is filming writer-director Preston A. Whitmore II's drama film This Christmas, with Laz Alonso, Nia Long and Regina King, and Sticky Fingaz's musical drama A Day in the Life, alongside Omar Epps, Nadine Velazquez and Tony Curran.

Besides acting, Phifer is also a businessman. He owns Athletes Foot, the athletic shoe store franchise in California, and is the proprietor of six stores (two of the stores are up and running). Phifer, who appeared in the music videos "The Boy Is Mine" by Brandy, “Don't Let Go” by En Vogue and "Nobody" by Keith Sweat, also found time to release a rap album, New York Related: The HF Project.

Phifer is chairman of the board of trustees of The Vine Group USA, a non-profit organization established in 2000 to provide educational resources to universities in Africa. With the Pennsylvania-based charity organization, he also has donated over $100,000 in scholarships, books and computers to Ibadan, Nigeria. Additionally, the season four winner of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown has played on the World Poker Tour in the Hollywood Home games for the Love Our Children USA charity.

Awards:

  • Image: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, "ER," 2005
  • Image: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, "ER," 2004
  • American Black Film Festival: Rising Star Award, 2002
  • Black Reel: Network/Cable - Best Supporting Actor, A Lesson Before Dying, 2000
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