Wood Harris landed his most well-known role playing drug kingpin Avon Barksdale in the critically acclaimed crime series "The Wire" (HBO, 2002-08). It was hardly his first major performance, however. In 1994 Harris made his feature film debut playing Motaw in "Above the Rim," starring Tupac Shakur. He subsequently picked up small parts in several television programs such as the cop show "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) and the prison drama "Oz" (HBO, 1997-2003). He also starred as groundbreaking guitarist Jimi Hendrix in the Showtime movie "Hendrix" (2000) and appeared in a dramatically meaty role opposite Denzel Washington in the football drama "Remember the Titans" (2000). Both performances brought him considerable attention, leading to his major part on "The Wire." Although none of Harris' post-"Wire" work managed to capitalize on that breakthrough performance in terms of visibility, he nevertheless continued to star in small features like "Dough Boys" (2009), "Next Day Air" (2009) and "Just Another Day" (2009), and popped up in several high-profile television series.
Born on October 17, 1969 in Chicago, IL, Harris was an introspective child and grew up in a lower-middle class blue-collar environment. At the age of 12, Harris fell in love with drawing and painting. Later, when he attended Northern Illinois University, he discovered his affinity and talent for acting, and quickly racked up roles on stage. After graduating from NIU, he attended New York University and studied acting for his Master's degree. Co-starring in the urban drama "Above the Rim" was a huge break, but the role almost ended his academic career; Harris was kicked out of the program due to his frequent spotty attendance record. Eventually, he was readmitted to the school after several fellow students protested the severity of the punishment. After "Above the Rim," Harris built up his resume appearing in small roles for television that nevertheless displayed his quiet yet intense onscreen presence. He also picked up minor parts in theatrical features as well, such as the Jack Nicholson movie "As Good as It Gets" (1997), Woody Allen's "Celebrity" (1998) and the action thriller "The Siege" (1998).
Harris' performance in the box office hit "Remember the Titans" was noteworthy and arguably his most widely seen role up to that point, co-starring as football player Julius Campbell opposite Denzel Washington. But it was his pivotal role playing a ruthless drug dealer on the lauded street crime series "The Wire" that became his signature performance, earning him to the attention of a whole new audience. His role on the HBO series was integral to the overall five-season narrative and highlighted his ability to generate considerable tension within a scene. On top of his acting success, Harris began focusing on his hip-hop career. But he did not give up on acting altogether: when not making music, Harris appeared in guest roles on several television programs, such as the medical show "House, M.D." (Fox, 2004-2012), police procedural "Southland" (TNT, 2009-), and the revamped version of "Hawaii Five-O" (CBS, 2010-). Harris also appeared in the dystopian science-fiction action movie "Dredd" in 2012, and performed in a Broadway production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" that same year, featuring an all-African-American cast.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made his feature film debut starring opposite Tupac Shakur in "Above the Rim" (credited as Sherwin David Harris)
Starred as legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix in the Showtime feature film "Hendrix"
Co-starred in football drama "Remember the Titans" opposite Denzel Washington
Played Avon Barksdale in HBO series "The Wire"
Had a recurring role on FX drama "Justified"
Played a supporting role in Marvel's "Ant-Man"
Cast as L.A.P.D. investigator Nandez in "Blade Runner 2049"
Played Tony "Little Duke" Burton in "Creed II"