André De Shields stars as Hermes in Hadestown on Broadway.
André Robin De Shields was born January 12, 1946 in Dundalk, Maryland, a community within Baltimore. He is an award-winning actor, singer, choreographer, director, and dancer who has been active in his performance career since the 1960s, but he did not study the discipline in college — he holds a B.A. in English literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.A. in African American studies from New York University, where he now serves as an adjunct professor. He did, however, star in a production of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun while at Ohio's Wilmington College, which he attended before transferring to Wisconsin. A few years later, he would make his professional debut in a 1969 Chicago production of Hair.
De Shields has numerous other regional credits to his name and three Jeff Awards for that work, but his most prolific appearances have been on the New York stage, where he has built a long and celebrated career since the 1970s. From then until the 1990s, he appeared in multiple productions at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club on Manhattan's Lower East Side, including Ken Rubenstein's Sacred Guard, Lamar Alford's Thoughts, and the Cotton Club Gala. He also directed two shows there: Chico Kasinoir's The Adventures of Rhubarb: The Rock and Roll Rabbit in 1985 and Saint Tous, which De Shields wrote himself.
Between La MaMa shows, De Shields also made his Broadway debut in the 1970s. His performance debut was as Xander in Stuart Gordon's 1973 science fiction play Warp!, and he made his choreography debut later that year on a Bette Midler revue, followed by a second one in 1975. His other notable Broadway roles include the titular role in The Wiz in 1975, a performer in the 1978 musical revue Ain't Misbehavin' and its 1988 revival, the Jester in the Duke Ellington musical Play On!, and the original Noah "Horse" T. Simmons in The Full Monty, Terrence McNally and David Yazbek's musical adaptation of the same-named film. His Play On! and The Full Monty performances each earned him a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk nomination. Most recently, he won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Hermes in [Hadestown](https://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/show/hadestown-tickets), a role he still holds. His was one of eight Tony Awards the production won at the 2019 ceremony.
De Shields is also a veteran screen actor, having won an Emmy Award for the 1982 broadcast of Ain't Misbehavin' . Most recently, in another theater-film hybrid, he appeared as Anton Ego in a benefit concert performance of Ratatouille The Musical, streamed on TodayTix in January 2021. De Shields has also held roles on television shows including Cosby, Sex and the City, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Katy Keene, and he was a musical guest on John Mulaney's 2019 Netflix comedy special The Sack Lunch Bunch.