Terrence Howard is a celebrated American actor known for his strong performances in movies such as “Hustle & Flow” and “Ray & Crash”. He was born on March 11, 1969 in Chicago, Illinois to Tyrone Howard and Anita Williams. He came from a family of actors; his maternal great-grandmother, Minnie Gentry, was a stage actress, and his mother and uncles were actors as well. His father was an abusive man, and used to beat Terrence as a child. At the age of 2, Terrence witnessed his father stabbing another man for which he was sent to jail. Upon Tyrone’s release a year later, he and Anita divorced. Terrence emancipated himself at the age of 16, and lived in shelters and off government welfare for two years. He then decided to move to New York to become an actor.
At first he enrolled as a student of chemical engineering at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Dropping out after two years, he began to make small appearances in television shows including a part in “The Cosby Show” starring Bill Cosby. Other roles during this time included a leading role in the television miniseries titled “The Jacksons: An American Dream” and other programs such as “Family Matters”, “Coach” and “Picket Fences”. Moving from television to film, Howard caught his big break with more prominent roles. The first of these was the 1995 film “Mr. Holland’s Opus” followed by “Sunset Park” in 1996, “Spark” in 1998 and “The Best Man” in 1999. In 2000, he co-starred with comedian Martin Lawrence in the hit film “Big Momma’s House” and in 2001, he starred with Jennifer Lopez in the film “Angel Eyes”. Other major roles followed, such as “Hart’s War” in 2002, “Biker Boys” in 2003 and “Ray” featuring Jamie Foxx in 2004.
Howard’s reputation as a respected actor was now confirmed and he began to receive even more lucrative roles. In 2004, he co-starred with several of Hollywood’s top stars such as Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Michael Peña, Brendan Fraser, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, and Ryan Phillippe in the film “Crash”. The film and the performance of the cast was critically acclaimed and the cast won the “Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture”. The film itself received six Academy Award nominations (of which it won three) and numerous other awards and nominations.
He followed this up with “Hustle & Flow” in 2005 for which he was nominated for Oscar, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards. He also sang all of his own songs for the soundtrack of the film, of which the song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” won the “Academy Award for Best Original Song”. In 2008, Howard made his Broadway debut in an African American production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. He also released his first studio album titled “Shine Through It” which is a mix of R&B, soul and pop. In 2011, he played the role of Nelson Mandela in the film “Winnie”. He has also appeared in prominent television shows such as “Law & Order: LA” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”.
Terrence Howard has been married twice, first in 1989 to his high school girlfriend Lori McCommas and then to Michelle Ghent in 2010. He has three children from his first marriage. He has had domestic issues with both his spouses and his second wife even filed a restraining order against him. In 2001, he was arrested on charges of forcibly entering his wife’s house and attacking her and later for assaulting an airline flight attendant, and some charges of assault and harassment.