If you like Bubba Gump shrimp, you have Mykelti Williamson’s character from Forrest Gump to thank. Well, not technically, but that was part of Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue’s storyline from the popular 1994 film.
Still working in the industry, let’s take a look at what Mykelti Williamson has been up to.
His Background Info
Mykelti Williamson was born on March 4, 1957, in St. Louis, Missouri, however, his family later relocated to Los Angeles when he was 15. His mother was a certified public accountant and his father was a Non-Commisioned Officer in the U.S. Air Force.
Despite being a skilled athlete, Mykelti ultimately quit sports while attending high school and instead joined the dance and cheerleading teams. Upon graduation from high school, he went on to study film and television at Los Angeles City College. Later on, he went to attend USC and then Gene Evans Motion Picture School where he earned a certificate in Film Production and Cinematography.
Started Acting at an Early Age
The acting bug bit Mykelti early. He started performing at the age of nine, appearing as an alternate member of The Lockers on Soul Train.
As a teen, he was the lead singer for the Righteous Apples, which was a series that aired on PBS that followed five musicians who were trying to make the world a better place through music.
Though these roles were impressive at showing off Mykelti’s range of talent, he wouldn’t earn his first official TV credit until guest starring on a 1978 episode of Starsky and Hutch. He was 21 at the time.
Shortly after guest starring as Bruce on Starsky and Hutch, Mykelti’s career started taking off. In 1979, he appeared in an episode of Salvage I and in the same year, a film titled Sunnyside.
Mykelti had steady work from 1979 through 1988, appearing in You Talkin’ to Me?, Hill Street Blues, The Bronx Zoo, Cover Up, Miami Vice, and Bay City Blues (to name a few).
Though he handed landed long-standing roles on shows such as Cover Up, where he played the character of Rick for 19 episodes and Gus Butterfield for 21 episodes in The Bronx Zoo, it wouldn’t be until 1988 that he landed a role he’d have for years, starring as Deacon Bridges in Midnight Caller.
Originating the role of Deacon Bridges, he appeared in 47 episodes of Midnight Caller that lasted from 1988 through 1991. In 1991, he landed another long-standing role on The New WKRP in Cincinnati, playing Donovan Aderhold for 46 episodes.
He continued to work in the early 1990s, starring in Free Willy and Other Women’s Children, but nothing would propel him to the level of fame he achieved until landing the role of Bubba Blue in the cult classic, Forrest Gump in 1994.
In the film, Mykelti played Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue, a fellow Army recruit who meets Forrest Gump after they’ve been drafted to the Vietnam War. While friends with Forrest, “Bubba” reveals his dreams of opening up his own shrimp boat company. When his character dies in combat, Forrest goes on to create the company in his friend’s honor, naming it the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
Forrest Gump achieved worldwide success and is still highly beloved today. Following Forrest Gump from a child to an adult, he recounts stories of his adventures throughout the 20th century. It’s a coming-of-age story that, despite its world wild appeal, differs drastically from the novel on which it’s based.
What Did He Do After Forrest Gump?
Mykelti’s career didn’t slow down once filming on Forrest Gump ended. During the mid-to-late 1990s, he starred in multiple films and TV series including but not limited to Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, Waiting to Exhale, The Outer Limits, Con Air, and Buffalo Soldiers.
In the 2000s, his acting credits included Holiday Heart, Ali, Touched by an Angel, Boomtown, Justice, Black Dynamite, CSI: NY, 24, and the Good Wife.
He continued to work through the 2010s, starring in Nashville, Justified, The Purge: Election Year, Designated Survivor, Rebel, and Lethal Weapon.
What is Mykelti Williamson Doing Now?
Williamson is still very much active as an actor. In 2021 and 2022, he had a role in Law & Order: Organized Crime, and in 2022 played the role of Robert in the Hallmark film, Holiday Stocking.
In February 2023, it was announced that Mykelti is revisiting his old stomping grounds from his Forrest Gump days to direct his new Hallmark movie titled Spring Breakthrough.
Since he continues to work, Mykelti is still active in the community and has had a lot to say throughout the years.
In 2022, he responded to commentary from John Oliver who said that Law & Order showed too much “pro-cop propaganda.” When asked about this statement, Mykelti said that people aren’t turning into Law & Order for “virtue signaling,” as much as they are turning in to watch great storytelling.
In previous interviews, he also mentioned how his character’s protruding lip in Forrest Gump nearly derailed his career because so many casting directors didn’t realize he was wearing a prosthetic. However, once the news came out, business picked back up again.
Mykelti does have an Instagram account, where many of his famous friends including Evan Ross, Viola Davis, and Lana Parilla comment on his photos. However, he hasn’t been active since November 2022.
Mykelti was married to Olivia Brown from 1983-1985. In 1989, he married Cheryl Chisholm and had a child named Phoenix.
However, they later divorced, and in 1997, he married Sondra Springs. They have two daughters together named Maya and Nicole.