David Alan Grier was born on June 30, 1956 in Detroit, Michigan. He is a comedian and a three-time Tony-nominated actor known for his television work on the comedy sketch show In Living Color.
Grier attended the Cass Technical High School in midtown Detroit and went on to graduate with a bachelor's degree in radio, television, and film from the University of Michigan and later a master's degree from the Yale School of Drama in 1981.
On stage, Grier made his Broadway debut playing Jackie Robinson in the new musical The First immediately after graduation from Yale in 1981. Although the production was short-lived, Grier's performance earned him his first Tony Award nomination alongside a Theatre World Award. He went on to assume the role of James "Thunder" Early in the Broadway premiere of Dreamgirls. He made his Off-Broadway debut shortly afterwards, assuming the role of Private C.J. Memphis in the Negro Ensemble Company production of A Soldier's Play and made his Shakespeare in the Park debut in the 1983 production of King Richard III. Grier's second venture at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park would be the 1994 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.
He made his Encores! debut at New York City Center with the 1996 production of One Touch of Venus. In 1997, he returned to Broadway to star in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and he later earned his second Tony Award nomination in 2010 for his performance as Henry Brown in the Broadway premiere of Race. He then appeared on the Broadway stage in 2012, starring as Sportin' Life in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, opposite Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald, receiving a third Tony Award nomination as well as a Grammy Award nomination for Best Musical Theatre Album.
On screen, Grier made his feature film debut in Streamers in 1983 and went on to star as Corporal Cobb in the 1984 film adaptation of A Soldier's Play called A Soldier's Story. Some of his other early screen credits include All Is Forgiven, Amazon Women on the Moon, A Different World, and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. He shot to fame after being cast in the smash hit comedy sketch series In Living Color, which began airing on Fox in 1990. Grier appeared as a regular cast member through 1994.
Throughout the 1990s, he would also appear in comedic Hollywood films, including Boomerang, Blankman, In the Army Now, and, perhaps most memorably, as Officer Bentley opposite Robin Williams in Jumanji. He also starred in such television series as Martin, Damon and DAG. Since then, his most notable screen credits include Baadasssss!, The Woodsman, Crank Yankers, The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, Bewitched, Dance Flick, Astro Boy, Bones, Peeples, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Bad Teacher, Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Carmichael Show, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Queen Sugar, among many others.
Grier has also delved into the world of live televised musicals, starring as the Cowardly Lion in NBC's The Wiz Live! in 2015 and appearing as Santa Claus in Fox's A Christmas Story Live! in 2017.
He returned to Broadway for Roundabout Theatre Company, once again revisiting the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier's Play, to star as Sergeant Vernon C. Waters in its Broadway premiere at the American Airlines Theatre from December 27, 2019 through March 11, 2020.