Avery Brooks will forever be known as Captain Benjamin Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His groundbreaking work on the third Star Trek series will live on, but he also had other notable acting roles. In addition, Brooks has also made a name for himself as a talented musician and educator.
Background Info and Early Life
The story of Avery Brooks begins on October 2, 1948 in Evansville, Indiana. He was born to parents Samuel Brooks and Eva Crawford, and for a little while, it seemed like Avery’s life might take a different course than it ultimately did.
The family he was born into was heavily connected in the music world, which gave Brooks his first example of creative expression.
Avery’s grandfather Samuel Travis Crawford would tour the country as a singer in the 1930’s.
Brooks would learn how to play the jazz piano, and sang in many productions, including the lead in an opera called “X”.
He graduated from Livingston College in 1973 and in 1976 he earned the distinction of being Rutgers University’s first black MFA graduate in acting and direcitng.
Avery Brooks’ Early Acting Career
Eventually, Avery Brooks’ work in the creative realm would lead him into acting. Compared to some other actors, he got his start relatively late in life, as his first credit didn’t come until he was 36 years old on American Playhouse. He appeared in one episode as a character named Solomon Northup.
Spenser: For Hire
His first big break would come a year later, as he landed a recurring role on a TV series called Spenser: For Hire, playing a main character named Hawk. He is an enforcer that helps Spenser get out of difficult situations. Brooks would appear in all 65 episodes of the show.
This opportunity would lead to a spinoff for Brooks’ character titled A Man Called Hawk. The show would last for 13 episodes in 1989, but had some pretty notable cast members, such as Angela Bassett and William Fichtner.
In 1998, Avery Brooks would earn a role in American History X, playing Dr. Bob Sweeney. He played a school principal who advised the Edward Furlong’s character to change his racist ways.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
While Brooks does receive some recognition for the work he did above, he is by far most prominently identified as Captain Benjamin Sisko in the 1990’s series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
It was a relatively random, but career defining break for Brooks, who had largely continued to reprise his role as Hawk in various Spenser spinoffs through the early part of the decade.
The Star Trek world had always promoted learning about different species and the way they lived, so explorers could enhance their view and make a connection with aliens all over the galaxy.
In terms of their cast, the series did incorporate diversity on to their respective crews, such as Nichelle Nichols in the original Star Trek, and Michael Dorn in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
However, the lead character of each series had been a white male, and selecting Brooks as the authority figure on the space station was a groundbreaking moment for the franchise.
Unlike the previous two iterations of Star Trek, the Deep Space Nine cast was in transition, and not as outwardly mobile as their predecessors.
The show was set on a sedentary station, whose cast members were adjusting to life after Cardassian occupation, and getting used to a Bajoran-Federation alliance.
Sisko was officially named the captain of Deep Space Nine, which was also strategically placed near a busy space transit corridor called a wormhole.
Not only was Sisko the first African-American main character on the series; he was the first captain to have an active role as a parent while running an entire starship/space station.
Deep Space Nine would enhance Sisko’s character by involving him in professional situations and personal situations back to back, much the way real life tends to unfold.
Benjamin Sisko and his son, Jake, would rely upon one another to get over the loss of Benjamin’s wife and Jake’s mother.
The crew of Deep Space Nine would also need to fend of the ever powerful Dominion, who was comprised of several different species of the course of the show.
This faction would look to take over entire quadrants of space by military force, and Sisko would be placed in the tough position of utilizing diplomacy or combat in order to navigate the situation.
Star Trek Legacy And Fame
Trekkies are among the most passionate fans of any fictional content, and come out in droves to support beloved characters.
Avery Brooks has appeared at Star Trek conventions in front of large numbers to give the fans a glimpse of Benjamin Sisko in the flesh.
Avery Brooks at Star Trek Conventions
There have been rumblings over the years that Brooks has not appeared as engaged as some of the other actors and actresses who have a special place in Star Trek lore during these conventions.
Some have opined that Brooks might be uncomfortable by the attention, and others feel like he might not be interested in reliving the past as much as the other cast members or fans.
Be that as it may, the character Brooks played is a central figure in the Star Trek timeline, as Sisko’s actions helped preserve peace when utter chaos was on the brink of ensuing.
What did Avery think about his role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?
Although some fans have come to the conclusion that Avery regretted his time on DS9, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Avery said he is very grateful for being give the opportunity.
“I was very grateful for the part, and remain very grateful today for what Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has meant to me in terms of my career,”
He went on to say that he was also proud of his role.
The program is one that I am extremely proud to have been a part. I will always have fond memories, especially in terms of it giving me a worldwide forum and letting the world see black and brown people doing all types of things without their color being the critical aspect of what or who they are.”
Although he is grateful and proud of his time on the show, Avery doesn’t want to be solely defined by this one role.
What Is Avery Brooks Doing Now? Why Did Avery Brooks Stop Acting?
Brooks did not appear in very many other shows or movies after Deep Space Nine, and there are a few different theories as to why that is.
A logical explanation could be that Brooks gave everything he had in his role as Sisko, and wanted to pivot out of that world to get back into a more relaxed setting.
Did Avery Brooks Get Blacklisted From Hollywood?
There have been rumors suggesting that Avery Brooks got blacklisted from Hollywood. This rumor started when his costar on DS9, Cirroc Lofton alleges that Avery is a victim of discrimination and that is why he has not been in significant tv or movie shows in nearly 20 years.
“something bigger there, in which he is kind of being discriminated against.”
Rumors aside, Avery has continued to focus on his music, having released an album called ‘Here‘ in 2007, which features jazz and blues covers, as well as spoken word pieces. He has appeared in theater and stage productions and he also spent time teaching at Rutgers University, his alma mater.
Avery has been married to his wife Vicki Lenora since 1976. Vicki is an assistant dean at Rutgers University.
The couple has three children named Ayana, Cabral and Asante.