- Father died when he was a baby; was raised by his mother, a lawyer for the U.S. Customs Department.
- Originally planned to attend law school but decided to study acting instead. Fittingly, his first film role was an attorney in Presumed Innocent (1990).
- In 1993, joined the Broadway cast of Tony Kushner's award-winning play Angels in America; later recreated the role of nurse Belize for the 2003 HBO adaptation.
- Won a 2001 American Film Institute Actor of the Year Award for his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. in the HBO miniseries Boycott.
- Received an honorary degree from Amherst College in 2004.
- Founded Taia Lion Resources, an organization devoted to finding ethical mining solutions in Sierra Leone, in 2011.
- 2017, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Nominee
- 2018, Tribeca Film Festival — Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film: Winner
- 2002, Tony — Actor (Play): Nominee
- 1997, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Debut Performance: Nominee
- 2013, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: Nominee
- 2004, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Winner
- 2016, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: Nominee
- 2006, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Supporting Male: Nominee
- 2018, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Nominee
- 2004, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Winner
- 1994, Tony — Actor (Featured Role--Play): Winner
- 2014, Critics' Choice Television Awards — Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Nominee
- 2006, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Acting Ensemble: Nominee
- 2003, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nominee
- Elijah — Son
- Carmen Ejogo — Wife
- Juno — Daughter
- Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, United States (BA in Political Science, 1987); attended New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, New York, New York, United States