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Chi McBride Fast Facts:
First name comes from his hometown, Chicago, and it's pronounced "shy."
Worked as a telephone operator.
Before turning to acting at 31, he was a member of an R&B band, Covert.
Enjoyed some success with a song that spoofed the marriage between Mike Tyson and Robin Givens.
His music background served him well in his acting career: He played blues legend Willie Dixon in the film
Who Do You Love
. He played his own music in the film.
Made his feature-film debut in 1992's
The Distinguished Gentleman
Starred in the controversial 1998 UPN sitcom
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer
, about a butler in Lincoln's White House who kept a journal on the administration's bawdy high jinks.
He took on a far more dignified TV role (it wouldn't have taken much) as high-school principal Steven Harper on the edgy and often-sensitive drama
, which debuted in 2000.
Discussing his acting versatility in an interview with Venice magazine, he listed "five stages in an actor's career. There's 'Chi who?' Then 'Get me Chi McBride.' Then 'Get me a Chi McBride type.' Then 'Get me a young Chi McBride.' And then 'Chi Who?' "
Showed a light side for one of his favorite roles, that of Emerson on the 2007 to 2009 comedy-drama series
His wide acting range came in handy again in 2010 when he took on the role of Winston in the Fox drama series
, which, as pointed out to Venice, gives him a chance to "run and fight and shoot guns...the more things you reveal about yourself in terms of your skill set, the more chance you have to survive."
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