Who is Ernest Lee Thomas?

When the television series “What’s Happening” premiered in 1976, one of the lead characters, Roger ‘Raj’ Thomas, immediately caught the eye of the audience, and people wanted to know more about the actor who portrayed this hilarious character. If you were one of those who had an interest in the life and work of this actor, let us introduce you to Ernest Lee Thomas.

He has over 65 acting credits to his name, and besides the mentioned role, he’s perhaps known best for playing Mr. Omar in the series “Everybody Hates Chris”, while he’s also been seen starring in numerous movies, including “Funny People”, “Kiss and Be Killed”, and the two-times Oscar-nominated “Malcolm X”.

Early life and education

Ernest Lee Thomas was born under the zodiac sign of Aries on 26 March 1949, in Gary, Indiana USA, thus he holds American nationality, while his ethnicity is African-American.

He was raised in Gary in a hard-working but poor family, by his father Alan Thicke, and his mother Gloria Loring, about whom nothing is known. He had a brother, who sadly died from AIDS – in his interview for VLAD TV, Ernest said that his brother at first came out as gay, and then as transgender thus he changed his name, however, Ernest hasn’t revealed more about him, except that he was rejected by the rest of the family after he opened-up about his sexuality.

Speaking of Ernest’s educational background, he attended a local high school, and upon matriculating in 1967, enrolled at Indiana State University, from which he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Science in 1970. He then pursued his dream of becoming a Broadway actor, and moved to New York, where he enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, from which he graduated in 1974.

Roles in series

Ernest made his acting debut in 1975, portraying Ronnie Walker in an episode of the series “The Jeffersons”, followed by his role as Tony Lanier in “Insight” in 1976. In the same year, he guest-starred in an episode of the series “Baretta”, before he was cast to play his most notable role to date, as Roger ‘Raj’ Thomas in “What’s Happening!!”, aired through 1979. He reprised his role in the spin-off series entitled “What’s Happening Now!”, between 1985 and 1988. Meantime, he guest-starred as Winston in “The Righteous Apples” (1980) .

In 1990, he portrayed Officer Parker in the crime drama series “In the Heat of the Night”, and then six years later, Ernest was seen as a Waiter in the comedy series “The Parent Hood’.

In the early 2000s, he appeared in “The Steve Harvey Show”, and from 2005 until 2009, he had the recurring role as Mr. Omar in the comedy-drama “Everybody Hates Chris”, a popular musical sitcom that had three Primetime Emmys nominations, also starring Terry Crews, Tequan Richmond and Tichina Arnold.

In the following years, Ernest mostly guest-starred in numerous television series, including “Are We There Yet” (2012), “Presence” (2016), and “The Chosen Ones” (2018), which is his most recent television role.

Roles in movies

Ernest made his first movie appearance as Preach in the 1975 film “Cooley High”, and then in 1977, he was seen as John in “A Piece of the Action”. His next movie role came in 1986, when he was cast to play Roger ‘Raj Thomas in the television movie “That’s My Mama Now!”, followed by his role as Sydney in the 1992 movie “Malcolm X”, also starring Denzel Washington and Delroy Lindo, which was nominated for two Oscars for Best Costume Design, and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Denzel Washington).

In the following year, Ernest was seen as Detective Ross in “Kiss and Be Killed”, and after a decade, he was cast to play Jailer in “The Watermelon Heist”, followed that same year by his appearance as himself in “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star”, and then he was seen as Yo Teach Principal in the 2009 comedy-drama “Funny People”, also starring Adam Sandler and Leslie Mann.

In 2013, he was heard as Roger Omar in the short movie “Ms. 3 pm”, before he was cast to play Pastor in “The Pastor and Mrs Jones”, while in the following year, he reprised his role as Roger Omar in the short movie “The Great Central Valley Taco Tour”, before he was seen as Lenny in “Basketball Girlfriend”.

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In 2015, Ernest starred successively in the movies “Mega Shark vs. Kolossus”, “Chocolate City” and “The Family”, followed by his role the following year as Bank Teller in the movie “79 Parts”, before he made an appearance in the short movie “Earworm” which brought him The Indie Horror Film Festival, Chicago, US Award for Best Actor; he was also nominated for the Sanford International Film Festival Award for Best Actor, in 2017.

In the following year, Ernest starred in the TV movie “The Lost Souls Café”, followed by his roles in the drama “Chocolate City: Vegas”, and in the short movie “Ledisi: Add to Me”, and then in 2019, he made an appearance in movies such as “Malcolm”, “Loved to Death” “Pawn” and “John Wynn’s Mirror Mirror”.

Ernest’s most recent roles were in the 2021 movies “Tales of a Fifth Grade Robin Hood”, and “Chocolate City 3: Live Tour”, while his fans will be happy to hear that Ernest has finished the filming of a new movie – “John Wynn’s One Hour” – set for release on 5 August 2022.

Love life and relationships

There have been various rumors concerning both Ernest’s love life and sexual orientation, however, he hasn’t spoken about any man or woman whom he has been with. He prefers to keep his love life a secret, thus on his social media platforms he hasn’t shared any photos featuring himself and a person with whom he might be romantically linked.

Some rumors were saying that he married dancer Julie Robinson, which hasn’t been confirmed by him, and other rumors say that he’s been engaged several times, however, he hasn’t confirmed any of these, hasn’t been married, and he doesn’t have children. As of June 2022, it seems that Ernest is single.

What happened to Ernest Lee Thomas?

People noticed that Ernest’s right eye seems a bit unusual, that it’s a different color from his left eye. Ernest was born with a condition called amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, a type of poor vision that happens in just one eye which develops at an early age when the brain and the eye are unable to work together properly.

Age, height, net worth

Ernest’s age is 73, he’s bald and the color of his eyes is brown; he weighs around 175lbs (80kgs) and is 6ft 2ins (1.88m) tall.

According to sources, as of June 2022, his net worth has been estimated at over $500,000.

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