Hometown: ChicagoFavorite thing about the biz: “Working with talented, creative people that I respect and admire.” Least favorite thing about the biz: “The business of show business.” Influences: Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Bruce Willis, Robert De Niro Best fan experience: “I haven’t had it yet.” Things could be worse than landing a starring role in a new David E. Kelley series. For Chi McBride, cast as high school principal Steven Harper on Fox’s “Boston Public,” this role is quite a departure from the one that last landed him on primetime: the title character on “The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer.” The UPN series was pulled after three episodes after poor ratings and accusations of insensitivity to the U.S.’ slavery history. “The role was cast for an African-American,” says McBride of the Harper role, for which he read twice in front of Kelley after the original audition before all agreed they had found the right actor to match the writer’s vision. “He wanted a person who represented authority from the onset. Right away, you know Harper’s the guy.” “(Kelley) is writing things that make a great deal of sense,” McBride says of the multi-Emmy-winner. “He deals with so many views and emotions. And then he ends up writing to you and you see yourself in the character. It’s both wonderful and eerie.” If “Boston Public” connects with auds, McBride’s career may flourish — but that doesn’t mean it’s been an overnight thing. His early forays on television include spots on several episodes of “The John Larroquette Show” and appearances in episodes of “Married … With Children” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Recently, he’s done more work for the bigscreen, including roles in “Hoodlum,” “Gone in Sixty Seconds” and “Disney’s the Kid.” And then there’s “Pfeiffer,” which never got off the ground. “I can’t really say I have any bad taste in my mouth,” McBride explains. “Life is filled with things that you try. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fall on your ass.”
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