CUBA GOODING JR.
Date of Birth: January 2, 1968
After Cuba Gooding Jr.'s father got a hit single with his band The Main Ingredient, his family moved from the Bronx to Los Angeles and their lifestyle changed due to the extra cash flow. After his father left, Cuba returned to Christianity at age 13 and attended four different high schools in Southern California.
In 1984, at the age of 16, he scored his first professional gig as a breakdancer for Lionel Richie's performance at the Olympics. His appearance in a high school production of Li'l Abner gained him notice by an agent.
He got work in commercials and a small part on the television show Hill Street Blues. But it wasn't enough, and Gooding decided to take lessons to improve his acting skills. Classes and workshops landed him several other TV roles and a feature-film debut as the celebrated "Boy Getting Haircut" in Eddie Murphy's Coming to America.
In 1990, Gooding landed the part of Tre Styles in Boyz N the Hood and plucked what was to be the first plum of his career. The next few years saw Gooding weaving in and out of commendable and unworthy films. In 1994, at the ripe age of 26, Gooding got married.
He was finally rewarded for his patience when he was cast in Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire as an elite athlete. The audition process had been arduous - most people found the 5'11" actor too short for the role.
With the huge success of Jerry Maguire, and the Oscar he won for his performance, Gooding seemed once again an actor to be reckoned with. Few actors get a second shot at stardom, and Gooding feels justifiably wary, yet optimistic, about the future: "It's so hard to predict. If I'm accurate, it's out of luck. And if I'm inaccurate, I'll feel like an idiot for guessing in the first place."
Since then he has won several more awards for his outstanding work, including a Character and Morality in Entertainment Award and an Image Award for Radio (2003), in which he played a developmentally challenged man. In 2002, he received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His most recent film project is the role of an African American pilot during World War I in the film Red Tails (2012).