Stephan James (born December 16, 1993) is a Canadian actor. After starring in a string of television series as a teenager, he rose to prominence upon winning a Canadian Screen Award for his role as track and field sprinter Jesse Owens in the 2016 film Race.
James in 2017.
In 2018, he starred in Barry Jenkins' acclaimed drama film If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name. Also that year, he portrayed Walter Cruz in the Amazon series Homecoming, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination.
James got his start in television with a reoccurring role for two seasons on the long-running Canadian teen series Degrassi. After leaving Degrassi, James played various supporting roles on television, including in How To Be Indie, Clue, and My Babysitter's a Vampire in 2011, and The Listener and The LA Complex in 2012. Also in 2011, he played a supporting role in the ABC Family made-for-TV movie 12 Dates of Christmas.
James landed his first major feature film role playing opposite Tatyana Ali and Fefe Dobson in the Canadian film Home Again (2012), in which he played a Jamaican deportee. Although the film received mixed reviews, The Globe and Mail gave James' performance a positive review, calling it "heartbreaking." James garnered a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards for his performance, though he ultimately lost to Serge Kanyinda.
In 2013, James was cast as civil rights activist John Lewis in Ava Duvernay's Martin Luther King Jr. film Selma (2014), which went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. When asked about the proposed "snubs" the film received from the Academy, James said:
To me, I’ve always seen this film as a victory really, even before I saw the finished version. No award can amount to the way I feel about what we’ve done with this film. We’ve done something so relevant to our youth.
In 2015, James guest starred in the CBC television mini-series The Book of Negroes, based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Lawrence Hill. At the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, James was named as one of TIFF's Rising Stars. In celebration of Black History Month, James was named by CBC as one of their '6 Black Canadian Culture-Makers,' citing Oprah Winfrey as one of his biggest influences.
In 2016, James starred in the lead role of African-American track and field sprinter Jesse Owens in the biopic Race (2016) opposite Jason Sudeikis, replacing Star Wars star John Boyega. For his role in Race, James won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
In 2017, James played DOJ prosecutor Preston Terry in the FOX limited series, Shots Fired. In 2018, he starred in Barry Jenkins' film adaptation of the James Baldwin novel If Beale Street Could Talk, which was nominated for several Academy Awards. Also that year, he portrayed Walter Cruz, opposite Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, and Shea Whigham, in the Amazon series Homecoming. James received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his performance in Homecoming.
|2012||Home Again||Everton St. Clair||Nominated – Canadian Screen Award for Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role|
|When the Game Stands Tall||Terrance G. "T.K." Kelly|
|Selma||John Lewis||Nominated – Black Reel Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male|
|2015||Lost After Dark||Wesley|
|Across the Line||Mattie Slaughter|
|2016||Race||Jesse Owens||Won – Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role|
Nominated – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
|2018||If Beale Street Could Talk||Alonzo "Fonny" Hunt|
|2010||My Babysitter's a Vampire||Jock||Television film|
|2010–11||How to Be Indie||Wilfred||3 episodes|
|2010–12||Degrassi: The Next Generation||Julian Williams||8 episodes|
|2011||My Babysitter's a Vampire||Jock #1||Episode: "Smells Like Trouble"|
|2011||12 Dates of Christmas||Michael||Television film|
|2012||The Listener||Ibrahim Ayim||Episode: "The Taking"|
|2012||The L.A. Complex||Infinite Jest||5 episodes|
|2013||Cracked||Ben Omari||Episode: "Faces"|
|2014||The Gabby Douglas Story||John 16-18 Years||Television film|
|2014||Apple Mortgage Cake||William Logan||Television film|
|2015||Unveiled||Daniel Shepard||Television film|
|2015||The Book of Negroes||Cummings Shakspear||Episode #1.5|
|2017||Shots Fired||Preston Terry||10 episodes|
|2018||Homecoming||Walter Cruz||Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama|
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- DeMara, Bruce (2013-03-22). "Home Again, by writer/director Sudz Sutherland, portrays the lives of three deportees to Jamaica, a place they haven't seen since childhood". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
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- Sneider, Jeff (May 28, 2014). "'Star Wars' Hero John Boyega to Be Replaced by 'Selma' Actor in Jesse Owens Biopic". thewrap.com. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- "Race Trailer: Jesse Owens Comes to Life in New Biopic". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
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- Kroll, Justin (29 August 2017). "Barry Jenkins' New Film Casts 'Shots Fired' Star Stephan James (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety (magazine). Retrieved 5 October 2017.
- Lee, Ashley (29 August 2017). "Barry Jenkins' James Baldwin Adaptation Casts 'Shots Fired' Star". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
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- says, Gina (17 December 2014). "15th Annual Black Reel Awards Nominate a Spate of Familiar Faces". The Black Reel Awards. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
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