Obba Babatundé is an American film and television actor, singer, dancer, and producer, possibly known best for his original portrayal of C.C. White in the Broadway show “Dreamgirls”. He’s starred in multiple films and television series, and continues to pursue his acting career.
- 1 Early life, family, educational background
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Hobbies, favorite things, and interesting facts
- 5 Appearance, clothing style
- 6 Net worth and salary
Early life, family, educational background
Obba Babatundé Donald Cohen was born on 1 December 1951, in Jamaica, Queens, New York City, New York USA. Little is known about his parents since the actor chooses to respect their privacy, but it’s been revealed that his father was a teacher, and his mother was a housewife. He has a brother Akin Babatundé who is also a successful actor, writer, and director, writing shows for Broadway and television.
Donald is of Nigerian origin which he appreciates and admires. To honor his descent, he adopted the name ‘Obba’ which translates to ‘King’, and Babatundé which stands for ‘father has returned again’. Since then, he’s rarely referred to himself as Donald Cohen.
Obba attended public schools when he was a child, and later continued his studies at Jamaica High School. He was always interested in singing and acting, frequently performing for his family, and as he grew older, his interest in the entertainment industry increased. He started writing poetry when he was still in high school; at the same time, he attended Sing ’68 musical program, and helped other students. Obba was physically active, engaging in track and field as well as cross country running. After matriculating, he started teaching people of color at a local private school.
The young actor enrolled at Brooklyn College, where he continued writing poetry, which he turned into one-act plays.
Career as an actor
Obba embarked on a journey into the entertainment industry when he started acting for Off-Off-Broadway theatres, displaying incredible talent even during his initial performances. In 1976, the young actor was selectedfor a role in “Guys and Dolls” touring company, which comprised prominent actors such as Richard Roundtree and Leslie Uggams.
In 1978, Babatundé debuted on Broadway in the show “Timbuktu!”, and then achieved a breakthrough when he portrayed C.C. White in “Dreamgirls”, which acquired him broad recognition and set him for another tour. His notable performances also included the documentary film “Liza in Concert”, in which he played alongside Liza Minnelli. During the production, the young actor had the opportunity to receive mentorship from Sammy Davis Jr.
From 1987 to 2001, Obba made notable appearances in multiple films and television movies, including “Leonard Part 6”, “God Bless the Child”, “Married the Mob”, “The Silence of the Lambs”, “Dead Again”, “Undercover Blues”, “Born to Be Wild”, “That Thing You Do”, and “Carpool”.
Obba has portrayed Dean Carl Cain in the movie “How High”, Sergeant Moody in “John Q”, Detective Combs in “April Fools”, Senator Wells in “The Manchurian Candidate”, John Harris in “’Till Death Do Us Part”, Craig in “Material Girls”, Mr. Bernard in “Kinky”, as well as Larry Armstrong in “The Last Fall”.
During the early years of his career, Obba portrayed various characters in single episodes of famous TV series such as “All My Children”, “CBS Summer Playhouse”, “The Human Factor”, “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”, “Thunder in Paradise”, “Under One Roof”, “Friends”, “Sparks”, “The Invisible Man”, “Family Law”, etc.
Later on, Obba was part of the regular and recurrent casts in the TV series “Half & Half”, “Karen Sisco”, “The Young and the Restless”, “Kingdom”, “Hand of God”, “The Bold and the Beautiful”, “I’m Dying Up Here”, “Dear White People”, “Forever”, “S.W.A.T”, “Corporate”, “Bronzeville”, and “Goliath”.
The talented actor has now appeared in more than 60 films, television movies, and series.
Please check out the amazing OBBA BABATUNDE in his fabulous role as Bishop Congdun in Amazon's new series HAND OF GOD pic.twitter.com/dl6JHIcN3w
— Weiner Management (@weinermgmt) September 22, 2015
Career as a voice actor
Along with a busy acting career, Obba is also a prominent voice actor thanks to his unique speaking and singing voice. From 1999 to 2017, his voice was heard in multiple productions ranging from TV series to movies and video games. The young actor voiced Lando Calrissian in “Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds”, “Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II – Rogue Leader”, and “Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike”, Boko in “The Wild Thornberrys Movie”, Conroy Le Blanc in “Rocket Power: Beach Bandits”, King Teredor in “Winx Club”, etc.
Obba’s distinctive voice is also heard in multiple commercials and narrations.
Career as a singer
Even though Obba hasn’t pursued a singing career seriously, he can still be heard on the albums “Sack Full of Dreams” and “Over the Rainbow”.
As an actor in musicals, he played the role of Zodzetrick in Scott Joplin’s opera “Treemonisha”, which was Houston Grand Opera’s second production.
Career as a producer and director
Babatundé is also a talented producer, director and writer. He was part of the production of the film “American Bad Boy” which was a Lionsgate Home Entertainment feature, and starred Katt Williams along with other prominent actors. He also co-produced “Oscar’s Black Odyssey”, “Dorothy Dandridge: An American Beauty”, and “TV in Black: The First 50 Years”.
Obba’s notable production works include the horror movie “Voodoo Dolls”, award-winning short movies “Journey” and “Clarissa’s Gift”, and the stage play “In The Blink of An Eye”.
Awards and Nominations
In 1982, Babatundé was nominated for Ovation Award and Tony Award for the first time as the Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of C.C. White. In 2010, he won the Best Lead Male for The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Theatre Award for his role in the musical “Sammy”.
Obba has also won Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series, Peachtree Village International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, and NAACP Image Award for Best Actor.
The actor was nominated for an Emmy and NAACP Image Award for his roles in “Miss Evers’ Boys” and “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”.
Regardless of being a public figure, Obba’s personal life remains private. He hasn’t spoken about his relationships openly, but according to sources, he’s married to a non-celebrity woman but her identity remains secret – Babatundé hasn’t confirmed or denied the rumors about his marriage. It’s also unclear whether he’s still married or not, or if he’s been in other relationships recently.
The famous actor doesn’t share his personal life on his social media channels either. The only thing that he’s revealed on his Twitter and Instagram accounts is the fact that he is a dad, however, he hasn’t confirmed the identities of his children. Sources say that he has two sons, and Antar Tarak Babatundé is one of them.
Hobbies, favorite things, and interesting facts
- Obba is fluent in American sign language;
- He is a skilled horse whisperer;
- The actor is also a rodeo competitor;
- He is a prominent speaker who is frequently invited to educational events thanks to his genuine, funny, and convincing character;
- He loves sharing his wisdom with his audience on his Instagram and Twitter accounts;
- He has a dog named Leo.
Appearance, clothing style
As ofmid-2022, Obba is 71 years old, with brown eyes and short brown hair. He has a height of 5ft 8ins (175cm) and weighs approximately 155lbs (70kgs). The actor always wears a mustache, but has never had a beard. He seems to prefer wearing formal clothes, and is frequently seen in colorful shirts and suits. He also likes appearing in jeans and boots for signings or other events..
Net worth and salary
Currently, Obba’s net worth is estimated to be more than $14 million. He mainly earns from his career, acting and producing. Occasionally, he also posts branded content on his Instagram channel. The information about Babatundé’s annual salary, real estate properties, or other belongings hasn’t been revealed to the public.