Born in Texas and raised in California, Forest Whitaker has had an incredible career over the course of his life. During his college days, Whitaker had gone to California State Polytechnic University, Pomona via football scholarship, but a back injury led him to pursue other interests, including changing his major to drama. 

He continued to pursue his passion for music and theatre, as he attended both the Music and Drama Conservatory at the University of Southern California (USC). He later completed a post-graduate course in London! 

Forest Whitaker: From Criminal Minds to multi-award winning actor

All of these milestones for Whitaker led him to Hollywood, where his first roles were in the 1982 films Tag: The Assassination Game and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. His next major films were in Platoon (1986), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), and Bird (1988), in which his portrayal of jazz musician Charlie "Bird" Parker led him to his first Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Forest Whitaker attends the 2019 Global Citizen Festival: Power The Movement in Central Park on September 28, 2019 in New York City

His next critically acclaimed film role was in 2006's The Last King of Scotland, where he received the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, along with over twenty other accolades for his portrayal of former Ugandan President Idi Amin. 

In 2013, Whitaker also earned a SAG, BET, and Satellite Award for Best Male Actor in Lee Daniels' The Butler, respectively. 

Forest Whitaker, winner of Best Actor for The Last King of Scotland, in the press room for the 79th Annual Academy Awards 

Forest Whitaker Today

On top of his impressive film career, Forest Whitaker has been in numerous amount of TV shows, including narrating The Twilight Zone from 2002-2003 and lead roles in ER, The Shield, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and Empire

Forest's most recent TV role is in the crime drama series Godfather of Harlem, opposite Vincent D'Onofrio. Whitaker was just nominated last year for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.

Vincent D' Onofrio and Forest Whitaker attend the Godfather Of Harlem New York Screening at The Apollo Theater on September 16, 2019 in New York City

You can check out Forest Whitaker next in not one, but two upcoming films! He'll star alongside Jennifer Hudson in the biographical drama Respect, as Aretha Franklin's (Hudson) father C.L. Franklin and in the film Havoc.