Actor and emcee Mos Def was born Dante Terrell Smith on December 11, 1973 in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of six, he already started rapping and acting. He studied at Philippa Schuyler Middle School and later took up Musical Theater at Talent Unlimited High School of the Performing Arts. He then moved to New York University afterwards. In 1994, his music career began by forming the group Urban Thermo Dynamics with his younger siblings. The group had two singles until he took on a solo career.
Soon, Mos Def joined Talib Kweli to form the group Black Star, releasing an album in 1998. The next year, he debuted his solo album Black on Both Sides. It was in 2004 that he launched another solo album, this time called The New Danger. His final album, True Magic, came out in 2006. He has since collaborated and appeared alongside artists like Kanye West, Apollo Heights, Stephen Marley, Gorillaz and The Roots. He has also embarked on creating his own clothing line, called the "Mos Def Cut & Sew Collection."
As for his acting, Mos Def first appeared in the TV movie God Bless the Child. He also became known for his role in the sitcom You Take the Kids, in addition to earning fame as Bill Cosby's sidekick in The Cosby Misteries. In 2003, he was cast in the blockbuster hit The Italian Job, and has hosted the HBO spoken word show Def Poetry. He even won the Best Actor Award at the 2005 Black Reel Awards for his role in The Woodsman. Later, he was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe, because of his performance in HBO's Something the Lord Made. He followed it up with roles in films like 16 Blocks, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Be Kind Rewind, and Cadillac Records. On the small screen, he has been seen in an episode of House, the children's show Yo Gabba Gabba! and the Showtime series Dexter in 2011.