Following his 1993 debut as beau to hip-hop artist Queen Latifah on the popular African-American sitcom "Living Single" (Fox, 1993-98), Cress Williams quickly became a regular fixture on some of television's most beloved programs including "Beverly Hills, 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000), "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) and "Nash Bridges" (CBS, 1996-2001). Williams also had small roles in several feature films including "Fallen" (1998) and "Never Been Kissed" (1999). With a short-lived but memorable turn in "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-2009) as a professional assassin, Williams was establishing himself as a versatile and memorable actor, and he went on to regular appearances in "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 2006-11) before landing a starring role on "Hart of Dixie" (CW, 2011-15) as Mayor Lavon Hayes, the ex-NFL linebacker with his trusty pet alligator, Burt Reynolds.
Williams was born in Heidelberg, Germany, where his father was stationed with the Army. After his parents' divorce, he grew up in Orange County, CA with his mother. The first in his family to finish college, Williams took the stage as Othello and performed in a number of other student productions before graduating from UCLA with a theater degree. Williams began landing regular roles on television almost immediately, and his first two professional jobs were "Beverly Hills 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000) and "Living Single" (Fox, 1993-98), on which he appeared simultaneously.
Minor roles in feature films followed, but Williams' real strength has always been in his television work where he often portrays police detectives or cops as in "Nash Bridges" (CBS, 1996-2001), "Close to Home" (CBS, 2005-07) and "Veronica Mars" (UPN, 2004-06; The CW, 2006-07). Yet he has also exhibited his range in diverse roles including stay-at-home dad Tucker Jones on "Grey's Anatomy" (2005- ) and the murderous Wyatt on "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-09), as well as being the first actor to portray a Jem'Hadar, a species of genetically engineered warriors, on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (syndicated, 1992-99). From 2000 to 2011, Williams was married to actress Simbi Khali, best known for her role as Nina Campbell on "3rd Rock From the Sun" (NBC, 1996-2001). In 2011, Williams became a regular cast member on The CW's "Hart of Dixie" as Lavon Hayes, a former pro-NFL player turned mayor of the small Alabama town of Bluebell.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made his television debut on Fox's "Living Single"
First regular series role on Fox's "Beverly Hills 90210"
Made his film debut in "The Doom Generation"
Had recurring role on series "Leaving L.A."
Had a minor recurring role on "ER"
Played Antwon Babcock on "Nash Bridges"
Appeared as Nathan Woods on "Veronica Mars"
Appeared as detective Ed Williams on "Close to Home"
Appeared as Tucker on "Grey's Anatomy"
Played the hitman Wyatt on "Prison Break"
Cast as Ornette Howard on "Friday Night Lights" series
Played Lavon Hayes on "Hart of Dixie"
Cast as Cole Guthrie on "Code Black"