As one of the most popular and influential rappers of the 1990s, Heavy D earned both respect and popularity in the music world with equal parts accessibility and integrity. He translated that appeal to become a highly watchable onscreen presence, slowly segueing to an acting career, beginning with cameos on television series and going on to featured roles in major motion pictures. One of his first notable onscreen performances was a recurring role on the acclaimed series, "Roc" (Fox, 1991-94), which he followed with a small part in the hip-hop comedy "Who's the Man?" (1993). Heavy D went on to more roles in the indie comedy "The Deli" (1997) and Robert Townsends' "B.A.P.S." (1997), while returning to the small screen with a recurring part on "Living Single" (Fox, 1993-98). After a role in the comedy "Life" (1999), Heavy D delivered an affecting performance in the Oscar-nominated drama "The Cider House Rules" (1999) and went on to become an audience favorite with a role on the acclaimed "Boston Public" (Fox, 2000-04). Meanwhile, a nearly 10-year absence from recording ended with the reggae album, Vibes (2008), which marked a resurgence in his music career, which unfortunately was never completed due to his untimely death in 2011. Even though his life was brief, Heavy D managed to earn widespread appreciation and respect because of his multi-faceted talents.
Born Dwight Arrington Myers on May 24, 1967 in Jamaica, Heavy D was raised by his father, Clifford, a machinist, and his mother, Eulahlee, a nurse. As a child, he moved with his family to Mount Vernon, NY, where he spent the remainder of his childhood. With demonstrable talent behind the microphone and surprisingly nimble dance skills, Heavy D signed with Uptown Records in 1986, leading the rap group Heavy D and the Boyz. One of the more successful crossover artists in hip-hop's early years, Heavy D's funk-infused sound and positive but down-to-earth messages resonated with the public at large, helping to bring the sound of the streets to a varied audience. Hits like 1989's "We Got Our Own Thang" and his 1992 reworking of the O'Jay's favorite "Now That We Found Love" earned the rapper sales awards, while his popularity was boosted by weekly exposure on national television as the composer and performer of the theme song for the sketch comedy series "In Living Color" (Fox, 1990-94).
Having appeared as himself frequently on the small screen throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, thanks to his distinctive look and personable manner, Heavy D began acting. One of his most notable early credits came with a recurring role on the critically acclaimed sitcom "Roc" (Fox, 1991-94). In 1993, he had a small role in the comedy caper "Who's the Man?" starring popular MTV hosts and hip-hop personalities Dre and Ed Lover. Heavy D returned to television with a recurring role on "Living Single" (Fox, 1993-98), a sitcom following a group of young African-American professionals. In 1997, Heavy D racked up two more feature roles with credits in the charming independent comedy "The Deli," and in Robert Townsend's cartoonish satire "B.A.P.S.." An active musician as well as actor, Heavy D continued to release recordings and was supported by his fans, earning solid album sales through the end of the 1990s, though a major hit on the level of his 1994 smash Nuttin' But Love was not forthcoming.
Next up for Heavy D was a supporting role in the comedy "Life" (1999) a high-profile turn which would be surpassed later that year by his larger role in the Oscar-nominated drama, "The Cider House Rules" (1999). Heavy D lent dignity to his portrayal of migrant laborer Peaches, a hard-working member of the cider house staff whose prioritizes making a living over shaking things up. After a featured role in the independent "Next Afternoon" (2000), Heavy D began a recurring role on David E. Kelley's controversial high school-set drama series "Boston Public" (Fox, 2000-04) as empathetic school counselor Mr. Lick, where he won over audiences who lamented the limits of his supporting role. Having demonstrated both his comedic and dramatic skills, Heavy D returned to the big screen in the comic adventure "Big Trouble" (2002) and the ensemble comedy "Larceny" (2004). Back on television, he appeared on the hit show "Bones" (Fox, 2005- ) and had a supporting role in the dance movie "Step Up" (2006). After nearly a decade away from the studio, he released the reggae album, Vibes (2008), which was notable for its lack of rapping. Meanwhile, he made a cameo as a security guard in Brett Ratner's action-comedy "Tower Heist" (2011). But just days after its release, Heavy D was rushed to the hospital on Nov. 8, 2011 after being found unconscious in his Beverly Hills home. He died an hour later with no signs of obvious foul play. He was 44 years old.
By Shawn Dwyer
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Signed to Uptown Records as Heavy D & the Boyz
Along with the Boyz, released debut album Living Large
Had a crossover hit with the single "We Got Our Own Thang" off second album Big Tyme
Wrote and performed the theme song for the Fox sketch comedy series "In Living Color"
Third album, Peaceful Journey
Appeared on the episode titled "On a Dead Man's Chest" on the HBO horror series "Tales From the Crypt"
Recorded a cover of The O'Jay's "Now That We Found Love"; single went gold
Landed a recurring role on "Roc" (Fox)
Appeared as himself in the comedy feature "Who's the Man?"
Made recurring guest appearances on the Fox sitcom "Living Single"
Voiced a character in "The Golden Goose" installment of the HBO series "Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child"
Made NYC stage debut co-starring alongside Laurence Fishburne and Titus Welliver in Fishburne's play "Riff Raff"; Fishburne also directed; performed off-Broadway at the Circle Repertory Theater
Acted in the independent "The Deli"; also appeared as himself in Robert Townsend's "B.A.P.S."
First album as a solo artist, Waterbed Hev
Guest starred on the action series "Martial Law" (CBS)
Acted in the comedy feature "Life"
Landed a supporting role as a laborer in Lasse Halstrom's adaptation of John Irving's "The Cider House Rules"
Featured in "Next Afternoon," an independent film that aired as part of the "Showtime Black Filmmaker Showcase"
Appeared in a recurring role as a guidance counselor on the high school-set drama "Boston Public" (Fox)
Featured in the comedy caper "Big Trouble"
Acted in the ensemble comedy "Larceny"
Appeared in the dance-filled drama "Step Up"
Released reggae album Vibes
Made a cameo as a security guard in the Brett Ratner directed ensemble comedy "Tower Heist"