Chris Rock

On this date in 1965, comedian, actor and producer Christopher Julius Rock III was born in Andrews, S.C. Shortly after Rock was born, his father, a truck driver and his mother, a teacher, moved to New York City. Rock was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn along with an older half-brother and three younger brothers. Rock’s parents, hoping it would improve his education, arranged to bus Rock to a different neighborhood every day, where he attended an almost entirely white public high school. He was subjected to racist bullying and harassment, and ended up dropping out, earning a GED. Comedic great Eddie Murphy discovered Rock performing stand up in 1983, when Rock was just 18. In 1990, Rock joined the cast of Saturday Night Live and began appearing in bit roles in movies. He stayed with SNL for three years. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Rock’s standup has been featured in five different HBO specials, cementing his place as one of the greatest comedians of his generation. He won Grammy awards for his spoken comedy albums, “Roll With the New,” “Bigger and Blacker” and “Never Scared.”

Chris Rock’s grandfather was a preacher, and Rock claims to have been influenced by his performance style. However, his grandfather’s influence did not extend to religion. Chris Rock’s comedy is peppered with skepticism about religion, including an episode of HBO’s “The Chris Rock Show,” where he visited with different faith leaders in a bit that made a mockery of several major religions. Chris Rock continues to perform stand up and appear in films. He recently directed and starred in the movie “Top Five.” His acting career also includes appearances in movies such as “Dogma” (1999), “Grown Ups,” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” He married Malaak Compton, a PR executive, in 1996. The pair separated in December of 2014, and have two daughters together.

“When you’re black there’s like no religion to turn to. It’s like, Christianity? I don’t think so. White people justified slavery and segregation through Christianity so a black Christian is like a black person with no f***king memory.”

—outtake from the 1989 documentary short, "Who Is Chris Rock?"

Compiled by Dayna Long; Photo by Everett Collection, Shutterstock.com

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