Born on November 29, 1964 in Kansas City, Missouri, Donald Frank Cheadle knew at an early age that performing would be his life's passion. After graduating from the California Institute of the Arts with a Fine Arts degree, Mr. Cheadle began his acting career in the early 1980s with small roles in features such as Fame and Hamburger Hill, but he received his first big break in 1995's Devil in a Blue Dress, which also starred Denzel Washington, and earned him Best Supporting Actor Awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics. The role also garnered Mr. Cheadle nominations by the Screen Actors Guild and the NAACP. Throughout his career, esteemed actor Don Cheadle has gone on to earn further accolades and awards for his roles in movies such as The Rat Pack, Traffic and Crash, but the role that changed his life was that of Paul Rusesabagina in 2004's Hotel Rwanda. The film, based on true events that occurred during the Rwandan Genocide of the 1990s, portrayed a hotelier who provided a safe haven to Tutsi refugees during the civil war between the Hutus and the Tutsis. During this time, an estimated 800,000 people perished as a result of the widespread massacres. This role earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, but beyond this acclaim, Mr. Cheadle discovered a new purpose in life - activism. Since his visit to the Darfur region of Sudan in early 2005, Mr. Cheadle has worked tirelessly with other social activists to raise awareness about the atrocities being committed against innocent Sudanese men, women and children. He has co-written an op-ed piece for USA Today and a novel with John Prendergast, lobbied the UN and government leaders and appeared in numerous public service announcements about the Darfur conflict and calls on citizens and the government to act to end the violence now. In 2007, Mr. Cheadle produced and starred in the documentary Darfur Now, which examined the lives of 6 very different people whose lives were all touched by the crisis in Darfur. His efforts to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur earned him, along with fellow actor George Clooney, the prestigious Men of Peace Award at the Nobel Peace Summit in Rome in December of 2007. Mr. Cheadle continues to split his time between his two passions: acting and working diligently with human rights groups to galvanize people into action.
"Today in Darfur, Sudan, widespread atrocities based on prejudice, hate and injustice are taking place out of the public eye. Now, imagine instead a world where human rights are respected and protected for all people - a safer more peaceful world."
"What we are seeing are tsunamis of violence, ... and we will continue to see these unless people step up, unless people step forward and demand from their leadership, demand from the international community that this not stand."
"We cannot stand here in a free society, proclaiming that we care about human life, and do nothing in the face of this."