Born on October 2, 1948 in Evansville, Indiana, Avery Brooks is an actor, jazz musician, college professor, and opera singer best known for his role as Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The son of a chorale conductor and union official and singer, Brooks’ maternal grandfather was also a singer. When he turned eight, his family moved to Gary, Indiana when his father was laid off.
Growing up, the Brooks household is said to be filled with music. His mother was among the first African-American women to earn a master’s degree in music from Northwestern University. She ended up teaching music wherever the family resided. Meanwhile, his father was in the choir Wings Over Jordan on CBS radio for 10 years from 1937 to 1947. He attended Indiana University and Oberlin College, and later at Rutgers University where he earned his bachelors and masters degrees.
Before landing television work, Brooks was a tenured professor of theater at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University for more than 30 years. He was Artistic Director for the National Black Arts Festival from 1993 to 1996, an internationally known festival celebrating African-American culture and people of African descent.
Brooks is a deep baritone singer who has performed with the likes of Butch Morris, Jon Hendricks, and Lester Bowie. Among his credits is the lead role in the 1985 Anthony Davis opera called X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X. Meanwhile, he has received critical acclaim for his role on Philip Hayes Dean’s play Paul Robeson.
In 1985, Brooks bagged the role of Hawk on the ABC detective series Spenser: For Hire and eventually his own short-lived spin-off series A Man Called Hawk. He achieved mainstream popularity, however, with his role as Benjamin Sisko on the sci-fi series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which ran for seven seasons from 1993 to 1999.
-For the first three seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Avery was required to let his hair grow out to differentiate him from the character of "Hawk" from Spenser: For Hire. By the opening of the fourth season, he shaved his head again.
-Avery is an accomplished jazz pianist.
-In 1996 and 1997, Avery was nominated for the Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993).
-In 1997, Avery was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Genre TV Actor for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993).
-In 1998, Avery was nominated for the Image Award for Outstanding Performance in a Youth or Children's Series/Special for Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (1995) for the episode The Golden Goose.
Solomon Northup's Odyssey
Finnegan Begin Again
Spenser: For Hire
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Roots: The Gift
Gordon Parks: "Visions"
Spenser: Pale Kings and Princes
The Ernest Green Story
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Spenser: The Judas Goat
Spenser: A Savage Place
The Big Hit
Africa's Elephant Kingdom
American History X
The Greatest Places
Echoes from the White House
Land of the Mammoth
The Better Hour: The Legacy of William Wilberforce
-It's the year 2000. But where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars! I don't see any flying cars! Why? Why? Why?
-If I were a carpenter, I'd find a way to empower using that skill. I'm using as much as God has given - my mind, my voice, my heart, my art forms. This is the highest form of expression on the planet from God, to me, to you.
-One of the reasons that I accepted, once asked to do Star Trek, was to give a single child a chance to see the long thought, to see themselves some 400 years hence. It occurred to me that we must ensure that we keep in front of children the ever-changing horizon. To let the children know that there is possibility, to let the children know that someone is not going to take away or destroy this world before they have a chance.