Born on July 23, 1962 in Hartford, Connecticut, Eriq La Salle developed interest in the performing arts from a young age and the attention which his cousin received from his classmates at dancing school specially attracted La Salle. La Salle’s decision to pursue an acting career became firm after he joined a local youth theatre group at the age of 14.
La Salle also attended the Julliard School in New York for two years and graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 1984. Upon graduation, La Salle was cast in his first play; a Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Henry V. Following the debut, La Salle continued to be a part of Broadway and non-Broadway shows and appeared in various TV shows including One Life to Live.
Moving to Los Angeles in the 1980s, the actor starred along Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. Later, he also signed a contract with the series, The Human Factor, and played the role of Dr. Peter Benton for eight seasons of the medical drama ER and was nominated for his role in the same series in 1995. Assuming the role of the doctor, La Salle drew inspiration from his own black background where his surroundings taught him that he could not be as good as his white counterparts.
Eriq La Salle got together with two of his co-actors from ER, Michael Michele and Michael Beach, to work in Hallmark Channel’s original movie, Relative Stranger, which premiered in March 2009. The following year, La Salle starred in the series finale of 24 as the Unite Nations Secretary General and made a guest appearance on one of Covert Affairs’ episodes in the same year.
Wishing to break down some of the barriers that the minorities face in the movie industry, La Salle soon became involved in writing and directing as well and served all three purposes in his short film, Psalms, a story based on a female black militant. La Salle invested into the movie with his own money as well and later sold the rights to Mel Gibson.
He soon directed a movie for HBO as well, titled Angel of Harlem. His debut as a director, however, was in 1996 when La Salle directed a made-for-TV movie, Rebound: The Legend of Earl “The Goat” Manigault. La Salle also directed two short films which won him awards at the Worldfest Houston Film Competition and the USA Film Festival.
Other movies which have contributed to his career as a director are Crazy as Hell, A Gifted Man, Playing Father and episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Apart from the performing arts, Eriq La Salle holds interest in physical activities as well and is especially interested in playing billiards, table tennis and weightlifting. Deviating from his roles as an actor, director and producer, La Salle also published a novel, Laws of Depravity, in 2012 which allowed him to put down his thoughts and beliefs about God and Religion on paper and convey his message to the world.