Actor, alum Pickens to address BGSU grads

BOWLING GREEN, O.—James Pickens Jr., a Bowling Green State University alumnus and star of the television series “Grey’s Anatomy,” will be the speaker at BGSU’s summer commencement Aug. 9.

Pickens, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Bowling Green in 1976, will also receive the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award during graduation. The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on the University Hall lawn or, in the event of rain, in Anderson Arena in Memorial Hall.

Pickens portrays Dr. Richard Webber on “Grey’s Anatomy” and has a Screen Actors Guild award to his credit as part of the ABC series’ award-winning ensemble cast. He has received two NAACP Image Award nominations for his role as well.

Pickens began acting at Cleveland’s Karamu House, distinguished as the oldest African-American theater in the United States. After moving to New York, he performed in the 1981 production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “A Soldier’s Play” at the Negro Ensemble Company with fellow cast members Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. He also starred in the 25th-anniversary revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” at the Roundabout Theater.

In 1990, Pickens moved to the West Coast and began an impressive run of film performances, including roles in “Traffic,” “Sleepers,” “Ghosts of Mississippi” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” He is well known to television audiences, too, for his roles on “NYPD Blue,” “The X-Files,” “The West Wing“ and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” among others.

Pickens came full circle with Karamu House in 2006 when he served as executive producer of the musical review “Gospel, Gospel, Gospel,” which opened to rave reviews.

A man of wide-ranging interests, the actor is also active in the U.S. Team Roping Championships, roping cattle on horseback at events across the country.

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(Posted July 29, 2008 )