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Stephan James (actor)

Stephan James
Stephan James.jpg
James in 2017.
Born (1993-12-16) December 16, 1993 (age 26)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Years active2010–present

Stephan James (born December 16, 1993) is a Canadian actor. After starring in a string of television series as a teenager, he rose to prominence upon winning a Canadian Screen Award for his role as track and field sprinter Jesse Owens in the 2016 film Race.[1]

In 2018, he starred in Barry Jenkins' acclaimed drama film If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name. Also that year, he portrayed Walter Cruz in the Amazon series Homecoming, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination.[2]

Early life

James was born in Toronto, Ontario. He graduated from Jarvis Collegiate Institute in 2011.[3] He is the younger brother of actor Shamier Anderson. His family is Jamaican.[4]


Early work

James got his start in television with a recurring role for two seasons on the long-running Canadian teen series Degrassi. After leaving Degrassi, James played various supporting roles on television, including in How To Be Indie, Clue, and My Babysitter's a Vampire in 2011, and The Listener and The LA Complex in 2012. Also in 2011, he played a supporting role in the ABC Family made-for-TV movie 12 Dates of Christmas.[5]

Later career

James landed his first major feature film role playing opposite Tatyana Ali and Fefe Dobson in the Canadian film Home Again (2012), in which he played a Jamaican deportee.[6] Although the film received mixed reviews,[7][8][9] The Globe and Mail gave James' performance a positive review, calling it "heartbreaking."[8] James garnered a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards for his performance,[10] though he ultimately lost to Serge Kanyinda.[11]

In 2013, James was cast as civil rights activist John Lewis in Ava Duvernay's Martin Luther King Jr. film Selma (2014), which went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.[12] When asked about the proposed "snubs" the film received from the Academy,[13][14][15] James said:

To me, I’ve always seen this film as a victory really, even before I saw the finished version. No award can amount to the way I feel about what we’ve done with this film. We’ve done something so relevant to our youth.[16]

In 2015, James guest-starred in the CBC television mini-series The Book of Negroes, based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Lawrence Hill.[17] At the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, James was named as one of TIFF's "Rising Stars".[18][19][20][21] In celebration of Black History Month, James was named by CBC as one of their '6 Black Canadian Culture-Makers,' citing Oprah Winfrey as one of his biggest influences.[22]

In 2016, James starred in the lead role of African-American track and field sprinter Jesse Owens in the biopic Race (2016) opposite Jason Sudeikis, replacing Star Wars star John Boyega.[23][24][25] For his role in Race, James won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.[1]

In 2017, James played DOJ prosecutor Preston Terry in the FOX limited series, Shots Fired.[26] In 2018, he starred in Barry Jenkins' film adaptation of the James Baldwin novel If Beale Street Could Talk, which was nominated for several Academy Awards.[27][28] Also that year, he portrayed Walter Cruz, opposite Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, and Shea Whigham, in the Amazon series Homecoming. James received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his performance in Homecoming.



Year Title Role Notes
2012 Home Again Everton St. Clair Nominated – Canadian Screen Award for Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role[29]
2014 Perfect Sisters Donny
The Dependables
When the Game Stands Tall Terrance G. "T.K." Kelly
Selma John Lewis Nominated – Black Reel Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male[30]
2015 Lost After Dark Wesley
Across the Line Mattie Slaughter
2016 Race Jesse Owens Won – Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role[31]
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture[32]
2018 If Beale Street Could Talk Alonzo "Fonny" Hunt
2019 21 Bridges Michael Trujillo


Year Title Role Notes
2010 My Babysitter's a Vampire Jock Television film
2010–11 How to Be Indie Wilfred 3 episodes
2010–12 Degrassi: The Next Generation Julian Williams 8 episodes
2011 My Babysitter's a Vampire Jock #1 Episode: "Smells Like Trouble"
2011 Clue Dmitri 5 episodes
2011 12 Dates of Christmas Michael Television film
2012 The Listener Ibrahim Ayim Episode: "The Taking"
2012 The L.A. Complex Infinite Jest 5 episodes
2013 Cracked Ben Omari Episode: "Faces"
2014 The Gabby Douglas Story John 16-18 Years Television film
2014 Apple Mortgage Cake William Logan Television film
2015 Unveiled Daniel Shepard Television film
2015 The Book of Negroes Cummings Shakspear Episode #1.5
2017 Shots Fired Preston Terry 10 episodes
2018 Homecoming Walter Cruz Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama


  1. ^ a b "Tatiana Maslany and 'Orphan Black' win big at Canadian Screen Awards | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  2. ^ Hipes, Patrick; Hipes, Patrick (2018-12-06). "Golden Globes Nominations: 'Vice', 'Versace' Lead Wide-Ranging Field – Complete List". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  3. ^ "Race actor Stephan James on the fast track to fame". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  4. ^ "Q&A with 'Race' Star Stephan James - Essence". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Stephan James". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  6. ^ "TIFF Capsule Review: 'Home Again'". Indiewire. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  7. ^ DeMara, Bruce (2013-03-22). "Home Again, by writer/director Sudz Sutherland, portrays the lives of three deportees to Jamaica, a place they haven't seen since childhood". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  8. ^ a b "Home Again: A very Canadian take on life and deportation". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  9. ^ "Home Again". 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  10. ^ "Introducing the Canadian Screen Awards, and their 2013 nominees"[permanent dead link]. Maclean's, January 15, 2013.
  11. ^ Barnard, Linda (2013-03-03). "Rebelle swept the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards, while TV's Flashpoint goes out with a bang". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  12. ^ Child, Ben. "David Oyelowo: Selma's Oscars snub 'bothers me'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  13. ^ "Oscar voter defends 'Selma' snubs in racially-charged tirade". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  14. ^ Squire, Aurin (2015-02-22). "Why 'Selma' Didn't Win Best Picture". New Republic. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  15. ^ "Why Ava DuVernay's 'Selma' Oscar Snub Matters". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  16. ^ "Actor Stephan James goes big on historical dramas". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  17. ^ "5 Questions with Stephan James of Selma". Scene Creek. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  18. ^ "Meet the four up-and-coming Canadian actors in TIFF’s Rising Stars program". The Globe and Mail, September 10, 2015.
  19. ^ Barnard, Linda (2015-09-03). "From Tatiana Maslany to Sarah Gadon, a look at five graduates of TIFF's Rising Stars program". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  20. ^ "TIFF Rising Star Stephan James Talks Jesse Owens Biopic 'Race'". Variety. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  21. ^ "A Chat with TIFF Rising Star Stephan James - Toronto Guardian". Toronto Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  22. ^ "CBC News - Black History Month: 6 black Canadian culture-makers". Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  23. ^ Sneider, Jeff (May 28, 2014). "'Star Wars' Hero John Boyega to Be Replaced by 'Selma' Actor in Jesse Owens Biopic". Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  24. ^ "Race Trailer: Jesse Owens Comes to Life in New Biopic". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  25. ^ "Stephan James To Replace Star Wars' John Boyega In Race". We Got This Covered. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  26. ^ "Canadian Stephan James stars in Shots Fired | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2017-05-29.
  27. ^ Kroll, Justin (29 August 2017). "Barry Jenkins' New Film Casts 'Shots Fired' Star Stephan James (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  28. ^ Lee, Ashley (29 August 2017). "Barry Jenkins' James Baldwin Adaptation Casts 'Shots Fired' Star". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  29. ^ "Introducing the Canadian Screen Awards, and their 2013 nominees -". Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  30. ^ says, Gina (17 December 2014). "15th Annual Black Reel Awards Nominate a Spate of Familiar Faces". The Black Reel Awards. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  31. ^ "Juste la fin du monde remporte six prix aux Écrans canadiens". La Presse. 12 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Beyoncé Leads the Pack of 2017 NAACP Image Awards Nominees". 13 December 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2017.

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