Born: March 11, 1969
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Zodiac Sign: Pisces
Terrence Dashon Howard is an American actor and singer. Having his first major roles in the 1995 films Dead Presidents and Mr. Holland's Opus, Howard broke into the mainstream with a succession of television and cinema roles between 2004 and 2006. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Hustle & Flow. Howard has had prominent roles in many other movies including Winnie, Ray, Lackawanna Blues, Crash, Four Brothers, Get Rich or Die Tryin', Idlewild, August Rush, The Brave One and Prisoners. Howard played James Rhodes in Iron Man and its video game adaptation, but he was replaced by Don Cheadle for the future films. He currently stars as the lead character Lucious Lyon in the television series Empire. His debut album, Shine Through It, was released in September 2008.
Howard was born to Tyrone and Anita (née Williams) Howard, both of who were biracial, with African and Anglo ancestry. Howard was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and experienced a rocky childhood, enduring disciplinary beatings from his physically abusive father, and even witnessing his father stabbing another man when he was just 2 years old in the Santa Line Slaying. The killing resulted in his father spending 11 months in jail for manslaughter. Howard's parents divorced upon his father's release. He was then raised by his great-grandmother, who died shortly after Howard appeared in Iron Man as Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Tony Stark/Iron Man's best friend.
Howard first entered the entertainment world when he portrayed Jackie Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream, an ABC miniseries. Three years later, he made his big film break in 1995's Mr. Holland's Opus. He continued being cast in television and movie roles and co-starred as Greg Sparks in the late-1990s short-lived television series Sparks, with James L. Avery, Sr. and Miguel A. Nunez Jr. Howard also appeared in The Best Man in 1999, in Ashanti's music video for her 2002 single "Foolish", and in Mary J. Blige's video for "Be Without You". Howard made an appearance on the TV series Family Matters.
Howard has stated that he looks for characters that "teach him about himself" when choosing his film roles. For the 2005 film Hustle & Flow, Howard portrayed an aspiring rapper, and performed all the tracks character's tracks himself, including "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp", which won the Academy Award for Best Original Songat the 78th Academy Awards. Howard has also worked as a film producer, receiving such a credit for the 2007 film Pride. In 2008, Howard hosted the PBS series Independent Lens.
Howard was contracted to play Colonel Rhodes in the 2008 film Iron Man. Howard was signed on before any of the other major actors and ended up being the highest paid actor in the film. He was replaced by actor Don Cheadle in the film's sequels; Entertainment Weekly reported that Howard was offered a 50 to 80 percent pay cut for Iron Man 2, though stated it was unclear whether Howard turned down the role or whether Marvel withdrew their offer.
Howard released his debut adult alternative album, Shine Through It, in 2008 on Columbia/SME Records. He described the album as urban country and either wrote or co-wrote all the tracks on it.
In 2008, he made his Broadway debut, playing Brick in an all-African-American production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Debbie Allen. During rehearsals he allegedly attacked and seriously injured musical composer Tex Allen (brother of the director), who said he suffered multiple injuries as a result of being punched multiple times in the head and face. In October 2008, Allen filed a $5 million lawsuit against Howard.
In 2010, Howard joined the cast of the Law & Order: Los Angeles, playing the character Deputy District Attorney Joe Dekker. He alternated shows with Alfred Molina, who portrayed Deputy District Attorney Ricardo Morales. The series was cancelled after one season. In 2011, Howard played Nelson Mandela in the film Winnie Mandela.
Since 2015, Howard has starred on the television series Empire, playing Lucious Lyon, a hip-hop mogul who discovers he is dying and must ensure the survival of his music empire. He also appeared in the television series Wayward Pines portraying Sheriff Arnold Pope, a main character in the first season in 2015 and a guest character in the second and final season.
Though he did not complete his engineering degree, Howard thinks of himself as an engineer and intends to return one day to complete the "three credits" of which he is currently short. Howard's account of his educational history has not been confirmed; Pratt Institute, which he says he attended, closed its engineering degree program in 1993. On February 26, 2013, Howard said on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that he had earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from South Carolina State University that year. He was awarded an honorary "Doctorate of Humane Letters" from SCSU after speaking at its commencement ceremony in 2012. However, he never attended the university and in fact the university is not empowered to confer doctorates in chemical engineering.
In 2010, Howard was inducted as an honorary member into Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.