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While Anthony Anderson got his start in stand-up, his wide range of genre-spanning credits as a producer and actor in light comedy, pointed satires, food-based reality shows and gritty episodic dramas display his versatility and cross-audience appeal. But even though it’s not immediately apparent how the points on his resume connect in one straight line, all of his work harkens back to core values of family, togetherness, responsibility, fairness, justice, and doing right in a sometimes complicated world. Anderson was one of four kids raised by his mother and stepfather (the man he considered his “only father I knew or cared about”) in Compton, Los Angeles, California. While their neighborhood could be rough, his no-nonsense stepfather, who owned three clothing stores, instilled a respect for paternal responsibility and entrepreneurship in Anderson. While Anderson remembers seeing a teenage Dr. Dre perform at Compton’s most important hip-hop venue Skateland, U.S.A., his most formative memory of a performer was watching his mother rehearse for an amateur production of A Raisin in the Sun at Compton Community College. Even though both he and his mother agree that she was a terrible actress, the impression of her becoming someone else on stage solidified his ambitions.
His ambitions stoked, young Anderson seized every opportunity to perform, whether it was singing at church, competing in spelling bees, or appearing in a commercial at the age of five. After successfully auditioning for Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, he won the top prize in the NAACP’s Act-So awards and gained entrance to Howard University’s drama program with an audition tape that included monologues from Shakespeare and “The Great White Hope”. (Anderson’s stepfather, always the pragmatist, took extraordinary measures to push Anderson out of the nest after college by not only insisting he pay rent if he wanted to live at home, but also by padlocking the TV cabinet and freezer, installing a pay phone in the house, and razzing Anderson with Lassie reruns: “That dog’s an actor. Where are you acting?”)
Too-strange-to-be-fiction family lore like that formed the basis of Anderson’s stand-up comedy routines that he performed briefly under the name “Tasty Tony” while picking up small roles in TV and movies until 1999, when he landed roles both in the Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy comedy Life, and Barry Levinson’s cinematic memoir Liberty Heights. A slew of roles in a wide range of genres followed for the next few years, culminating in recurring roles on Treme as actor-waiter Derek Watson, on The Shield as Antwon Mitchell, the drug boss turned community leader who still keeps one foot in the thug life, and on Law & Order as conservative lawman Detective Kevin Bernard, a role for which he earned four consecutive NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.
“I want to extend my heartfelt “thank you” for all you did in helping us host Ms. April Ryan as our 2018 MLK, Jr. keynote speaker. Ms. Ryan was absolutely amazing last night!! She was captiva
“I want to extend my heartfelt “thank you” for all you did in helping us host Ms. April Ryan as our 2018 MLK, Jr. keynote speaker. Ms. Ryan was absolutely amazing last night!! She was captivating, insightful, and delivered a powerful message with words of hope, love, and a call to action to the audience. They were utterly enthralled by her presence and presentation.
I would like to also add that I thoroughly enjoyed the pleasure of meeting Ms. Ryan. She was so personable, pleasant, down-to-earth and very gracious and accommodating with the guests. She was patient with each question and stayed until every person had their book signed or picture taken. I would not hesitate to have her visit our campus again. I was so impressed and grateful for her contributions to our campus community in this role, but even more so for the work and accomplishments she is making in journalism, politics, and keeping integrity in the profession.
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the wonderful and professional work of Ms. Kim Lowery in her role in ensuring a positive and successful program. She was thorough in providing the details of the travel itinerary and ensured that we had all the information necessary in preparation for Ms. Ryan’s visit. It was a pleasure working with her on this engagement.
Thank you again for the work you do and the rewarding collaborations we enjoy with your agency. I look forward to future interactions.”
“Meeting you both today was a great experience for me and my career development! I learned so much and truly valued your expertise, insight and probing questions. You really got my wheels turning and focused solely on the success of building my brand. As I mentioned, this was a new experience for me and it was a great opportunity to be ultra successful in 2015! As I recap my notes, I just wanted to send you a note of sincere thanks.”
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