Was raised by his mother's landlady in an Upstate New York boarding house after his parents were unable to care for him, an experience he wrote about in his autobiographical one-man play Lackawanna Blues.
Decided he wanted to be an actor after playing Huck Finn in a grade school production of Tom Sawyer.
Made his Broadway debut as Buddy Bolden in Jelly's Last Jam.
Made his directorial debut with a production of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean at the McCarter Theater in Princeton.
Is friends with Halle Berry, a producer of Lackawanna Blues and his costar in Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Wrote the adaptation for the film version of Lackawanna Blues and appears in the film in a supporting role. His twins, Lily and Trey, also have cameos.
Gives lectures on theater at colleges and has worked as a private acting coach.
2005, Emmy — Outstanding Made for Television Movie: Nominee
2017, Tony — Director (Play): Nominee
1996, Tony — Actor (Featured Role--Play): Winner
2006, Independent Spirit Awards — Best First Feature: Nominee
Alean Hudson — Mother
Trey — Son
Jeannie Brittan — Wife
Ruben III — Son
Broderick — Son
Ruben Santiago — Father
Lily — Daughter
State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, United States (BA in Theater, 1978); Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, United States (MFA in Theater, 1982)