Cuba Gooding Jr. spent many years
in bit roles before finally becoming a star. The
son of Cuba Gooding, lead singer for the 70’s
pop group the Main Ingredient, he was born in the
Bronx on 2 January 1968. His family moved to Los
Angeles after his father's group had a hit single
with "Everybody Plays the
Fool" in 1972. Unfortunately, his father
abandoned his family two years later.
Gooding Jr. made his professional debut in 1984
as a break-dancer for Lionel Richie's show at the
Olympics. He was discovered by an agent while performing
in a high school play, and began working steadily
in television commercials, which led to a bit part
on an episode of Hill Street Blues. He made his
first feature-film appearance in Coming to America
(1988). His first real
break came when he was cast as Tre Styles in Boyz
'N the Hood (1990).
Gooding Jr. began landing fairly substantial parts
in film such as A Few Good Men (1992).
He truly came into the spotlight when he starred
as a loyal football player in Jerry Maguire (1997)
and won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his efforts.
Following this triumph, Gooding Jr. next appeared
in As Good as It Gets (1997)
alongside Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear.
In 1999, Gooding Jr. kept busy with both television
and film as well as starred in a series of Pepsi
commercials. He appeared opposite Anthony Hopkins
in Instinct and had a lead role in Chill Factor.
Gooding Jr. next starred opposite Robert De Niro
in the military drama Men of Honor (2000).
One year later, he stepped into the role of an ill-fated
serviceman in Pearl Harbor.
The year 2003 was another busy year for Gooding
Jr. who starred in three wildly different movies
including Boat Trip, Radio, and The Fighting Temptations,
a musical comedy starring Beyoncé Knowles.