Date of Birth: August 30, 1966
Birth Name: Michael Michele Williams
The eldest of two daughters born to a white father and a black mother, Michael Michele Williams was born and raised in Evansville, Indiana. She was an athletic child and took part in volleyball and track in high school, but her speciality was basketball -- she was the star forward on her school's top ranked women's basketball team. However, Michael also had a love for theater, and after graduating from high school in 1984, she headed for New York City. Her first acting jobs were in commercials and music videos, but in 1988, she landed a guest appearance on the HBO series 1st & Ten. She was all set to make her feature film debut in Eddie Murphy's Harlem Nights (1989), but the deal fell through when she filed a sexual harassment suit against Murphy that was later settled out of court. Michael instead made her feature film debut with a small role in the fantasy Def by Temptation (1990), starring Samuel L. Jackson.
Her next film, New Jack City (1991), found her playing Wesley Snipes' girlfriend, and casting directors sat up and took notice. Michael was offered a regular role on the TV series Dangerous Curves, an hour-long drama that lasted only one season. She wasn't out of work long, however, before landing a role in the ABC mini-series Trade Winds (1992) opposite Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Ned Vaughn. By 1994 she was a regular on a new series, New York Undercover, for Fox-TV. She stayed with the series for a year, before leaving to do the CBS show Central Park West.
After doing mostly dramas, Michael took on a role in the Walt Disney comedy The Sixth Man (1997), starring Damon Wayans. It was after she joined the cast of the hit series Homicide: Life on the Streets as Detective Rene Sheppard that Michael found herself becoming more and more recognized. She played the role for a year, leaving to join the cast of another hit series, E.R., this time playing Dr. Cleo Finch. She stayed with the show for three seasons.
Michael returned to the big screen with the major motion picture Ali (2001), starring Will Smith, followed by roles in two more major Hollywood pictures, Dark Blue (2003), starring Kurt Russell, and How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003), starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.
In her spare time, Michael works with underprivileged children, something she started doing when she was 15 years old. She mentors young girls at New York City's Washington Irving High School and the Ralph Bunch School in Harlem. She also puts her considerable basketball skills to good use by participating in charity basketball tournaments.
Named for her mother's best friend, Michael Ann, Michael Michele divides her time between apartments in Los Angeles and New York.
Dark Blue (2003)
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Sixth Man, The (1997)
New Jack City (1991)
Def by Temptation (1990)