Courtney B. Vance

Courtney Bernard Vance[1] (born March 12, 1960) is an American actor notable for his roles in the feature films Hamburger Hill and The Hunt for Red October, the television series Law & Order: Criminal Intent, in which he played Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver and The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, in which he played Johnnie Cochran. For the latter, he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. He guest starred on the TNT series The Closer as Chief Tommy Delk from 2010 to 2011. In 2013, he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his role in Lucky Guy.[2]

Courtney B. Vance
Courtney Vance
Courtney Bernard Vance

(1960-03-12) March 12, 1960
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
Years active1983present
Angela Bassett (m. 1997)

Early life

Vance was born on March 12, 1960 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Leslie Anita (Daniels), a librarian and Conroy Vance, a grocery store manager and benefits administrator.[1][3] He attended Detroit Country Day School[4] and later graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While attending Harvard, Vance was already working as an actor at the Boston Shakespeare Company. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree later at Yale School of Drama where he met fellow student and future wife Angela Bassett.[5]


Vance has earned three Tony Award nominations. He won Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Hap Hairston in Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy at the 67th Tony Awards (2013).[6] He was nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his role as Cory in August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Award for Best Play-winning play Fences at the 41st Tony Awards (1987). He was nominated for Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance as Paul in John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation at the 45th Tony Awards (1991). In 1987, he won a Clarence Derwent Award for his role as Cory Maxson in Fences.

Prior to joining the cast of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Vance appeared on the original Law & Order series twice: in a minor role in the first-season episode "By Hooker, By Crook", and in a major role in the fifth-season episode "Rage".

His early feature film credits include Hamburger Hill, The Hunt for Red October, The Last Supper, Dangerous Minds, and The Adventures of Huck Finn. More recently, he appeared in Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune, Penny Marshall's The Preacher's Wife, and in Clint Eastwood's Space Cowboys. Vance also starred in Love and Action in Chicago, a romantic comedy which he also co-produced. Vance played Black Panther Bobby Seale in the Melvin and Mario Van Peebles docudrama Panther. In 2008 and 2009, he guest starred in the final season of ER, alongside his wife Angela Bassett. He was also in Hurricane Season.

On December 2, 2008, TV Guide reported that Vance has been cast as the Los Angeles bureau chief of the FBI in the new ABC pilot FlashForward, which is based on a Robert J. Sawyer novel, and is said to be a possible “companion show” to Lost.[7] In 2011, he starred in the American horror film Final Destination 5. Vance is set for the lead in the German-American apocalypse thriller The Divide.

He also appeared in a Disney Channel Original Movie titled Let It Shine, where he played the Pastor Jacob Debarge, the main character's father. Vance co-starred with Tyler James Williams, Trevor Jackson, Coco Jones, Brandon Mychal Smith, and Dawnn Lewis. It was the third time Vance portrayed a pastor in a motion picture (the first being The Preacher's Wife and the second being Joyful Noise).

Vance has also provided the voiceover for the National Football League's "You Want the NFL, Go to the NFL" television spots.[8]

He appeared as Chief Tommy Delk on the TNT series, The Closer from 2010 to 2011 (Season 6–7). Vance also played the role of Attorney Benjamin Brooks on four episodes of ABC's Revenge.[9] In 2015, he portrayed Miles Dyson in Terminator Genisys opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke.[10]

In 2016, he played the role of Johnnie Cochran in FX's American Crime Story, which tells the story of the O. J. Simpson murder case.[11] The series premiered on February 2, 2016, and his performance was critically acclaimed by critics.[12][13][14]

In 2018, he appeared as Neil Beeby in the Peter Hedges film Ben Is Back, opposite Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges.[15] He has also been cast opposite Niecy Nash in Prentice Penny's feature film directorial debut, the Netflix original movie Uncorked set for a 2019 release.[16]

Personal life

Vance is married to Angela Bassett, whom he first met in 1980. Together, they have twins, son Slater Josiah Vance and daughter Bronwyn Golden Vance; the twins were born on January 27, 2006. He and Bassett have authored a book, Friends: A Love Story, with Hilary Beard.[17] The two also participate in the annual Christmas celebration, Candlelight Processional, at Epcot. The family lives in Los Angeles.[18]

Vance is on the Board of Directors for The Actors Center in New York City, and is an active supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He is an alumnus of the Detroit Boys & Girls Club, and was recently inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.[19]

On the PBS program Finding Your Roots,[20] Vance discovered that his father was born out of wedlock to a 17-year-old woman, Victoria Ardella Vance.



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Hamburger Hill Spc. Abraham 'Doc' Johnson
1990 The Hunt for Red October Sonar Technician (Petty Officer 2nd Class) Jones
1993 The Adventures of Huck Finn Jim
1993 Beyond the Law Conroy Price
1994 Holy Matrimony Cooper
1995 Panther Bobby Seale
1995 Dangerous Minds George Grandey
1995 The Last Supper Luke
1996 The Preacher's Wife Reverend Henry Biggs
1998 Blind Faith John Williams Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
1998 Ambushed Jerry Robinson
1999 Cookie's Fortune Otis Tucker
1999 Love and Action in Chicago Eddie Jones Co-producer
2000 Space Cowboys Roger Hines
2002 D-Tox Reverend Jones Also known as Eye See You
2008 Nothing but the Truth Agent O'Hara
2009 Hurricane Season Mr. Randolph
2010 Extraordinary Measures Marcus Temple
2011 The Divide Delvin
2011 Final Destination 5 Agent Jim Block
2012 Joyful Noise Pastor Dale
2015 Terminator Genisys Miles Dyson
2016 Office Christmas Party Walter
2017 The Mummy Army Colonel Greenway
2018 Isle of Dogs Narrator (voice)
2018 Ben Is Back Neal Burns
2019 Untitled Schulman/Joost project Post-production
2019 Uncorked Louis Post-production
2020 The Photograph Post-production

Television films

Year Title Role Notes
1983 First Affair Male student
1991 The Emperor's New Clothes Scribe (voice)
1992 In the Line of Duty: Street War Justice Butler
1993 Percy & Thunder Thunder
1994 Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad Thomas
1995 The Piano Lesson Lymon
1995 The Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Glenn
1995 The Affair Travis Holloway Nominated—CableACE Award for Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
1996 The Boys Next Door Lucien P. Singer
1997 12 Angry Men Foreman
1998 Naked City: Justice with a Bullet Officer James Halloran
1998 Naked City: A Killer Christmas Officer James Halloran
2002 Whitewash: The Clarence Brandley Story Clarence Brandley
2012 Let It Shine Pastor Jacob DeBarge
2017 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield

Television series

Year Title Role Notes
1989 Thirtysomething Curtis Episode: "Trust Me"
1990 Law & Order Mayor's Assistant Episode: "By Hooker, by Crook"
1995 Law & Order Benjamin 'Bud' Greer Episode: "Rage"
1995 Picket Fences Warren Grier 2 episodes
1998 Any Day Now Mr. James Jackson Episode: "Unfinished Symphony"
1998 The Wild Thornberrys Makai (voice role) Episode: "Naimina Enkiyio"
2000 Boston Public Walter Harrelson 2 episodes
2001–06 Law & Order: Criminal Intent A.D.A. Ron Carver 111 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
2002 American Experience Dr. Vivien Thomas Episode: "Partners of the Heart"
2004 American Experience Narrator Episode: "The Fight"
2007 State of Mind William Banks 3 episodes
2008–09 ER Russell Banfield 8 episodes
2009 The Spectacular Spider-Man Roderick Kingsley Episode: "Accomplices"
2009–10 FlashForward Stanford Wedeck 22 episodes
2010–11 The Closer Chief Tommy Delk 3 episodes
2012 Revenge Benjamin Brooks 4 episodes
2013 Graceland Sam Campbell Episode: "Pilot"
2014–15 State of Affairs Marshall Payton 7 episodes
2014 Masters of Sex Dr. Charles Hendricks 3 episodes
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
2015 Scandal Clarence Parker Episode: "The Lawn Chair"
2016 The People v. O. J. Simpson:
American Crime Story
Johnnie Cochran 10 episodes
Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Movie or Limited Series
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Nominated—BET Award for Best Actor on Television
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Nominated—Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Drama
2019 Lovecraft Country George Black Upcoming series
TBA Genius C. L. Franklin Season 3


  1. "Courtney Vance Biography (1960–)". Film Reference. 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  2. Semuels, Alana (June 9, 2013). "Tony Awards 2013: Courtney B. Vance glad he took a chance on 'Lucky Guy'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  3. Gates Jr., Henry Louis (2016-01-28). Finding Your Roots, Season 2: The Official Companion to the PBS Series. UNC Press Books. ISBN 9781469626192.
  4. "Alumni E-Bee". Detroit Country Day School. 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  5. Penn, Charli (12 October 2011). "Black Love: Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance". Essence. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  6. Purcell, Carey (6 September 2013). "Kinky Boots, Vanya and Sonia, Pippin and Virginia Woolf? Are Big Winners at 67th Annual Tony Awards". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  7. Who's on board for ABC's new sci-fi thriller?" TV Guide. December 2, 2008. Retrieved on December 3, 2008.
  8. "For N.F.L., Split Seconds Become 30-Second Spots". The New York Times. August 6, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  9. "Revenge (TV Series 2011– ) - Full Cast & Crew". IMDb. 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  10. "Preview: Here's a T-800 From 'Terminator Genisys'". Bloody Disgusting. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  11. Goldberg, Lesley (February 5, 2015). "Courtney B. Vance Set as Johnnie Cochran in FX's 'American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  12. Sepinwall, Alan (February 1, 2016). "Review: FX's compelling 'The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story'". HitFix. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  13. Fienberg, Dan (January 19, 2016). "'The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  14. Bernstein, Jonathan (February 3, 2016). "The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, review: 'expertly executed entertainment'". The Telegraph. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  15. "Ben Is Back (2018)" via
  16. "Niecy Nash, Courtney B. Vance to Star in 'Uncorked' for Netflix". Hollywood Reporter.
  17. "Bassett and Vance Tell Their 'Love Story'", NPR, February 16, 2007; with Farai Chideya interview (43 min.) and excerpts/readings by authors. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  18. Smith, Thomas (December 14, 2009). "Unique Perspective – 'Candlelight' at Disney's Epcot". Disney Parks. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  19. "404".
  20. "Courtney B. Vance",, September 23 (2014?). Retrieved 2016-08-17.
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