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James Avery

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Information about James Avery

Profile image of James Avery

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Television Actor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
All Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Oceans
Favorite Quote:
I will never be alone because I have my ancestors with me and I'm the sole reason for their existence.

Birthplace

Born:
11/27/1948
Birth Location:
Atlantic City, New Jersey

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Television Actor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
All Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Oceans
Favorite Quote:
I will never be alone because I have my ancestors with me and I'm the sole reason for their existence.

Birthplace

Born:
11/27/1948
Birth Location:
Atlantic City
See how James Avery is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Born on November 27, 1948, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, James Avery left his hometown after high school to serve in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. Avery then settled in San Diego, where he wrote poetry and television scripts, winning an Emmy Award for his production of Ameda Speaks: Poet James Avery. Avery also received a scholarship from the University of California at San Diego, where he obtained his B.A. degree in drama and literature in 1978. Avery was awarded an honorary doctorate from Virginia State University in 1996.

Throughout his career, spanning over thirty years, as a writer working with a collective group in San Diego, Avery also worked as an actor in television, film, and theater productions. Avery's first acting part came in the role of God in the play JB in 1971 at San Diego Community College. After performing in his first acting role, Avery went on to star in the UPN comedy series Sparks from 1996 to 1998; and had recurring roles on The Legend of Tarzan, Showtime's Soul Food, and The Division on the Lifetime Network. Avery was best known for his role as the uncle of Will Smith's character on the popular sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Avery also played roles as judges on L.A. Law, Night Court, and Murder One. Avery's movie credits included Dancing in September; Dr. Dolittle 2; and License to Drive. Avery performed on stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, playing the lead in Othello, among other roles; at the Back Alley and Met Theatres in Los Angeles; and in other productions across the country.

Avery. a seasoned traveler, indulged his passion acting as host of the critically acclaimed PBS series Going Places; the program, one public television's highest-rated series, enabled viewers to see different places in the world through Avery's eyes. As host of Going Places, Avery had the opportunity to visit such diverse locales as Turkey, Bali, Madrid, and Yellowstone National Park.

Avery passed away on December 31, 2013 at age 65.

See how James Avery is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Avery interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Avery's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Avery discusses his mothers' hardscrabble life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Avery remembers his Uncle Pete
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Avery describes his childhood neighborhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Avery describes the smells and sounds of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Avery describes himself as a boy
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Avery shares childhood anecdotes of the neighborhood and the beach in Atlantic City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Avery shares childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Avery recalls elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Avery shares some junior high school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Avery reflects on his mother's values
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Avery describes his teachers, good and bad
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Avery discusses the tension between wanting to learn and being accused of "acting white"
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Avery remembers the people who influenced him as a youth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Avery describes himself as a high school student
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Avery details his decision to attend Virginia State University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Avery recalls a physical confrontation in college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Avery recounts another physical confrontation during a Civil Rghts March
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Avery explains his rash decision to join the Navy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Avery describes his service in Vietnam
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Avery recalls his move to San Diego
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Avery recounts college life in San Diego in the early 1970s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Avery describes early employment in San Diego
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Avery details his early stage career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Avery remembers his successes as a stage actor
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Avery details his transition to television acting roles
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Avery discusses finding his voice as a black actor
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Avery recalls the roles that shaped his acting career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Avery describes the tension of black actors having to represent universal "blackness"
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Avery discusses the false distinctions between acting in film, tv, commericals or theater
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Avery recounts moonlighting on different television shows
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Avery relates how he got cast in 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Avery details his experiences on 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Avery discusses the type-casting and limited roles for African Americans in Hollywood
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Avery explores the lack of ingenuity in Hollywood
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Avery lists the highlights of his career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Avery explains why Sparks was canceled
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Avery discusses the relegation of "black shows" to few channels
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Avery expresses the need for realistic and diverse casting for movies and shows
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Avery shares his hopes for his future career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Avery ponders the possibilities for a black Hollywood
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Avery reflects on the few contemporary multi-ethnic television shows
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Avery names Hollywood's brightest talent
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Avery describes his mother's pride in his career
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Avery reflects on his relationship with his wife
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Avery expresses his concerns for the black community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Avery shares his advice to young African Americans in entertainment
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Avery ponders his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James Avery is still in touch with his inner child
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Photo - James Avery's mother, Florence Avery, and his uncle Pete, Atlantic City, New Jersey, ca. 1950s
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Photo - James Avery with his family, ca. 1970s
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Photo - James Avery on the set of Scavenger Hunt, ca. 1978
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Photo - James Avery with Carmen DeAcuna, ca. 1978
  • Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Photo - James Avery with his family, Atlantic City, New Jersey, ca. 1970s
  • Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Photo - James Avery's mother, Florence Avery
  • Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Photo - James Avery with his wife, Barbara, Paris, France
  • Tape: 7 Story: 15 - Photo - James Avery with his mother, Florence Avery, Brigantine, New Jersey