The Working Actor
This is the third in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor".
William Shakespeare said "There are no small parts.....". William Shatner may have said it too, but the longhair with the tights was first, or so the reports go. In this feature we will explore what it really means to be an actor working in Motion Pictures and Television.
Broad public acknowledgment may have eluded some who find their way to these pages, or perhaps they may have brushed against what is referred to as stardom by virtue of one or more remarkable performances. However for many, the rewards of plying their craft in a field which has allowed them to earn a living may exceed the burdens of public acclaim. Given the chance, some in this clan might prefer the longevity offered by anomimity over the potential for short lived fame.
These individuals, either by design or fate, have managed to sustain a career by crafting performances which rendered them a good casting choice. They are usually thought of as a face you recognize, but you just can't get the name past the tip of your tongue.
Most of these folks have spent countless hours on stage in theaters ranging from 20 seats to 2000 building characters from the works of Ibsen, to Eliot, to Williams, to yes even Shakespeare, and so many of the modern Playwrights. They have rounded their skills doing drama, comedy, & musicals. Their work is a serious venture.
These people have given us screen performances which quite often were the catalyst that brought an Oscar or Emmy to another and yet they continue to work as "Characters" or "Co-Stars" without the trophies and plaques adorning their mantle.
Richard Roundtree
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Richard Roundtree

Although with consistency being the benchmark for stardom in Hollywood, Richard Roundtree has proven to be a star in every sense of the word. As a leading actor over the last twenty five years, he has established himself as a constant force with his stellar work in both feature films and television. And yet this "Working Actor" still fits the bill as his roles have varied and his apetite for continued acting assignments has never waivered!

Discovering that he enjoyed the spotlight while on a football scholarship at Southern Illinois University, Richard signed with Johnson Publications to model in their annual Ebony Fashion Fair, touring 79 cities in 90 days- Roundtree then returned to New York his home state, began acting lessons and later became a member of New York's acclaimed Negro Ensemble Company. A succession of Off Broadway roles culminated in his starring role as Jack Johnson in "The Great White Hope".

Richard initially received international. fame starring as John Shaft: private detective and supercop hero in a trio of movies: “Shaft”, “Shaft in Africa”, and "Shaft's Big Score". He also starred in the 90 minute television series, "Shaft".

But Roundtree was just beginning to stretch his talents. He quickly moved on. to star in a number of films with some of Hollywood's most legendary actors. "City Heat” with Clint Eastwood, "Diamonds", with Robert Shaw, "Man Friday" with Peter O'Toole, "Game for Vultures" with Richard Harris, and "Inchon" with Laurence Olivier, naming just a few.

Richard's recent work has been just as impressive, having added the smash hit thriller "Seven" with Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, and the critically acclaimed "Once Upon A Time...When We Were Colored" . Other recent features include “Steel” with basketball superstar Shaquile O’Neal and the highly successful "George of the Jungle" for Disney Pictures.

He was recently given an honor by being nominated by the NAACP for an IMAGE AWARD as Best Actor in a Drama Series for his work as Mr. Thomas on the highly acclaimed FOX series, 413 Hope Street.

Richard was seen earlier this year on CBS portraying Booker T. Washington in the top rated movie for television, "Having Our Say". Other television highlights have been the movies for television, "Christmas in Connecticut", directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the recent "Bonanza" MOW's for NBC, and playing Charles Dutton's gay Uncle on several episodes of "Roc". He has also starred as a regular on the series, "Outlaws" for CBS, "Buddies" for ABC, and "Rescue 77" for the WB network.

Richard devotes his time to projects concerning children and is an excellent photographer and an avid golfer. A recent grandfather, Richard makes his home in Agoura Hills, California, with his wife Karen, daughters Tayler-Marie, Morgan and his new son John James.

Contact: Patrick McMinn 805-379-8955

McMinn Management 310-235-1464 / 805-379-8955

Roundtree's advice to the aspiring actor:
"Acting is a circle and you get what you put out. It requires a high degree of professionalism to keep the circle going. Being late; being unprepared; or not knowing your lines, breaks the circle.

The stage prepares you for that degree of professionalism. People who have had a background in the theaterautomatically develop a work ethic that gives them that level of professionalism".

Lesson learned:
Richard shared this anicdote which we decided to use as our "Quote O'the Month".
While working in Lebanon on "Embassy" with Chuck Conners, Max von Sydow, and Broderick Crawford. Richard recalls being frustrated with the antics of an unprepared young actor. Seeing his frustration, Crawford took Roundtree aside and interjected, "Whatever you do in this business; It's much easier than lifting heavy things!"

Richard Roundtree's Credits
    FEATURES (partial list)
  • George of the Jungle
  • Steel
  • Seven
  • Once Upon A Time...When We Were Colored
  • Theodore Rex
  • Original Gangsta's
  • City Heat
  • Opposing Forces
  • Inchon
  • An Eye For An Eye
  • Games For Vultures
  • Day Of The Assassins
  • Man Friday
  • Shaft
  • Shaft's Big Score
  • Shaft In Africa
  • Earthquake
    TELEVISION (partial list)
  • Movies:
  • Having Our Say
  • Other Families' Secrets/USA Cable
  • Devils Bed I CBS
  • Bonanza-The Return/NBC
  • Bonanza- The Ghosts/NBC
  • Christmas In Connecticut/TNT
  • Roots
  • Series Regular:
  • 413 Hope Street (FOX)
  • Buddies (ABC)
  • Cop Files (Host) UPN
  • Outlaws (CBS)
  • Shaft (NBC)
For more info and credits see IMDb

Pat Harrington [August 1999]
Pat Harrington - August 1999
Robert donner [July 1999]
Robert Donner - July 1999

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