Cleavant Derricks is best known for his time on Broadway and for appearing as Rembrandt Brown in the science fiction series Sliders.
The actor also turned his talents to the big screen, appearing in films like Moscow on the Hudson and The Slugger’s Wife.
See what the Broadway legend has been up to since first hitting the theater stage.
Background Information/Early Life
Cleavant Derricks Jr. was born on May 15, 1953, in Knoxville, TN, to Cecile, a pianist, and Cleavant Derricks Sr., a Baptist preacher/composer.
Derricks has a twin brother, Clinton Derricks-Carroll, who is an actor and musician. His father is also best known for his popular gospel hymn, Just a Little Talk With Jesus.
Derricks started his career as a gospel songwriter in Nashville and co-wrote the Grammy-nominated gospel album Satisfaction Guaranteed with his father.
The singer/actor moved to New York to study acting with Vinnette Carroll at the Urban Arts Theatre, where he received rave reviews.
Derricks won Tony and Drama Desk awards for creating the role of James “Thunder” Early in the hit Broadway musical Dreamgirls.
He also appeared as William Finn in the off-Broadway production of Romance in Hard Times and played the Streetsinger in the Broadway musical Brooklyn.
Towards the end of his original time in New York City, Derricks starred in Big Deal, one of Bob Fosse’s last musicals.
The role would nab Derricks a nomination for a Tony and Drama Desk Award as Best Actor in a musical.
In 2022, Derricks told Playbill online about which production stands out the most, “The production that stands out for me of course is Dreamgirls.
Being invited by Michael Bennett to participate with the production team as vocal arranger.”
Movies and Television
Derricks began the switch from theater to film and television in the late 80s and 90s, with appearances on hit shows like Roseanne, A Different World, L.A. Law, Good Sports, Drexell’s Class, and Something Wilder.
The actor also landed roles in films like Moscow on the Hudson, The Slugger’s Wife, and Carnival of Souls.
Derricks played Rembrandt ‘Cryin Man’ Brown from 1995-2000 on the science fiction television series Sliders.
The show followed a group of travelers as they slid between different parallel universes through a wormhole. Derricks was the only character in the series for the entire five seasons and 88 episodes.
The actor played a professional singer who, while driving to a gig, is caught in the first significant test of the vortex.
Besides Derricks, the show went through various cast and crew changes, and while Fox canceled the show after season three, it was picked up by the Sci-Fi network for an additional two seasons.
What did he do after Sliders?
When Sliders went off the air in 2000, Derricks landed roles in television shows, including Charmed, The Practice, The Bernie Mac Show, and Cold Case.
The actor also went on tour with the Broadway show The Full Monty, to which he won the 2003 NAACP Theatre Award for Best Actor.
He also was awarded the “2005 Heroes and Legends Award” for his performance in the hit play Brooklyn. On tour with Brooklyn, he performed alongside American Idol contestant Diane DeGarbo and Tony Award Winner Melba Moore.
Derricks’ last appearance was as Ray Jackson in the 2011 film Miami Magma, which was about a volcano eruption.
What is Cleavant Derricks doing now?
In 2019, Derricks claimed the role of the Wizard of Oz in the US’s second tour of the popular musical Wicked.
The actor is still starring as the iconic Wizard of Oz while the show plays at the Gershwin Theatre in New York City but has not appeared in film or television since 2011.
Fans should keep an eye on Derricks after being quoted as saying, “As to other projects, yes, but not to be discussed,” when asked whether he had additional projects in the works.
Derricks has been married to Portia Derricks, an actress, since 1986, and the couple has four children.
While the actor does not have an active social media account, fans can catch glimpses of his time on Wicked through their official Instagram account.