- First acting role was as the Cowardly Lion in his grammar school's production of The Wizard of Oz.
- Right after Juilliard, became Raul Julia's understudy for the Shakespeare Festival in Central Park's production of Othello.
- Won the 1989 Actors' Equity Association's St. Clair Bayfield Award (for best Shakespearean performance) for his work in Coriolanus.
- Won the 1996 NAACP Theatre Award for Best Actor for his work in the Broadway play Seven Guitars.
- Provided the narration for the 2012 Community episode "Pillows and Blankets" in a parody of his narration of Ken Burns' documentaries like Jazz (2001) and The War (2007).
- Has his own cabaret act, which features renditions of pop and jazz standards, and has starred in a musical tribute to Nat King Cole.
- 2005, Emmy — Outstanding Voice-Over Performance: Winner
- 2014, Critics' Choice Television Awards — Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Nominee
- 2001, Emmy — Outstanding Non-Fiction Series (Informational): Nominee
- 2008, Emmy — Outstanding Voice-Over Performance: Winner
- 1992, Tony — Actor (Featured Role--Musical): Nominee
- 2016, Emmy — Outstanding Narrator: Winner
- Margit Edwards — Ex-wife
- Dionne Lea — Wife
- Mae Lee — Daughter
- Delores Williams — Mother
- Lester Williams — Father
- The Juilliard School, New York, New York, United States (BFA, 1979)