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Keith David in recent times might be viewed as the go-to villain boss in Hollywood productions but the talented actor, who has also managed an award-winning career as a voice-over artist, has a broad acting reach that has kept him relevant for over three decades in the industry.
The New York native is an all-around entertainer who has dabbled as a comedian and singer with more than 150 films, television series, and video games on his resume. Read on to find out about his early beginnings, acting history, and other facts you need to know about him.
Keith David Williams was born to Dolores (nee Dickenson) and Lester Williams on June 4, 1956, in Harlem, New York. His father worked as a payroll operations director while his mother was a manager at the New York Telephone Company.
David was raised in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York where he attended school. It was said that after performing at his school’s production of The Wizard of Oz where he played the Cowardly Lion, David wanted to become an actor. This prompted his parents to enroll him at Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts before he went on to attend Julliard School’s Drama Division from where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 1979.
After graduation, David joined John Houseman’s The Acting Company with whom he toured the United States with. He featured in the group’s productions of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ before he got his big break when he was cast to play Childs in The Thing (1982) opposite Kurt Russell.
His performance in the movie propelled him to go ahead and star in a number of 80s films like Platoon (1986), Hot Pursuit (1987), Star and Bars (1988), and Men at Work (1990). It was also during this time that he began working as a voice-over artist, lending his mellifluous voice to Nickelodeon’s Christmas in Tattertown (1988) and the English dub of the animated Japanese series 3×3 Eyes (1991).
In 1992, Keith David left what was turning out to be his comfort zone in film and television series to work in the musical, ‘Jelly’s Last Jam’. David received critical acclaim for his performance which earned him a Tony Award nomination.
While continuing to star in more stage productions of different works of Shakespeare in New York, David went back to acting, starring in 90s movies like Dead Presidents (1995), Clockers (1995) The Quick and the Dead (1995), Armageddon (1998), and Pitch Black (2000). He also did a number of voice works; Gargoyles (1994-1997), Fantastic Four (1995), Hercules (1997) among many others.
In 1997, Keith David entered the world of video games. He first voiced Decker in ‘Fallout’ before going on to do other notable video games like the Halo series and Call of Duty. He voiced the Arbiter in ‘Halo 2’ (2004), Halo 3 (2007), Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ (2014) and ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ (2015). He also did Captain Anderson in Mass Effect (2007), Mass Effect 2 (2010) and Mass Effect 3 (2012) and then Sergeant Foley in ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’ (2009).
In recent times, Keith David can be seen starring as Bishop James Greenleaf in the television series Greenleaf (2016 – present) as well as in movies like Nina (2016) and Night School (2018).
Facts You Need To Know About Keith David
Keith David is a practicing Christian who believes in church, God, and spirit. He has, however, said he is not a religious man because religion can get political. He is married to actress Dionne Lea Williams who is best known for her roles in movies like American Fusion (2005) and Celeste Bright (2010). The couple got married in April 2001 and have two daughters; Maelee and Ruby Williams. David has an older son named Owen Williams from his first marriage.
In addition to his voice-over work, David has narrated a number of documentaries. He did the MLB Network special “Mr. Padre” in honor of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn and also some WWE documentary among many others.
For his work, Keith David has won a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding narrator in addition to two others for outstanding voice-over performance.
He has a net worth of around $3 million which is quite surprising because of the number of years he has spent in the industry.