After spending the 1980s playing a series of drug addict and character parts, Samuel L. Jackson emerged in the 1990s as one of the most prominent and well-respected actors in Hollywood. Work on a number of projects, both high-profile and low-key, has given Jackson ample opportunity to display an ability marked by both remarkable versatility and smooth intelligence.
Born December 21, 1948, in Washington, D.C., Jackson was raised by his mother and grandparents in Chattanooga, TN. He attended Atlanta's Morehouse College, where he was co-founder of Atlanta's black-oriented Just Us Theater (the name of the company was taken from a famous Richard Pryor routine). Jackson arrived in New York in 1977, beginning what was to be a prolific career in film, television, and on the stage. After a plethora of character roles of varying sizes, Jackson was discovered by the public in the role of the hero's tempestuous, drug-addict brother in 1991's Jungle Fever, directed by another Morehouse College alumnus, Spike Lee. Jungle Fever won Jackson a special acting prize at the Cannes Film Festival and thereafter his career soared. Confronted with sudden celebrity, Jackson stayed grounded by continuing to live in the Harlem brownstone where he'd resided since his stage days.