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FOREST WHITAKER (Officer Dante Jackson) is an acclaimed actor/director who has showcased his talents in a multitude of demanding and diverse roles.

Whitaker earned widespread recognition for his performance as Jody, the hostage British soldier, in Neil Jordan's Academy Award-winning film "The Crying Game." More recently, he co-starred in "Jason's Lyric," "Ready to Wear," "Smoke," "Species" and "Phenomenon."

In 1988, Whitaker was named Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of jazz legend Charlie Parker in Clint Eastwood's "Bird," a role for which he also received a Golden Globe nomination. His other film credits include "Blown Away," "Platoon," "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Consenting Adults," "Stakeout," "The Color of Money," "Johnny Handsome," "Downtown," "Diary of a Hitman," "Body Snatchers," "Vision Quest," "East Times at Ridgemont High" and "A Rage in Harlem," on which he also served as co-producer.

On television, Whitaker garnered a CableAce nomination for his performance in the Showtime original film "Last Light," directed by Kiefer Sutherland. He also starred in HBO's "Criminal Justice," for which he earned a CableAce nomination; "The Enemy Within," for which he received a Screen Actor's Guild nomination; and the cable film "Lush Life."

"Waiting to Exhale" marked his feature film directorial debut. Whitaker earlier gained recognition for his first project as a director, the HBO drama "Strapped," for which he received Best New Director honors at the Toronto Film Festival. He most recently directed "Hope Floats," starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr.

Whitaker was born in Longview, Texas and grew up in Carson, California and South Central Los Angeles. While in high school, Whitaker played competitive football and was an All League defensive linesman. He attended California State University at Pomona under a football scholarship studying opera and drama. He also studied at the Drama School in London under a scholarship created especially for him.

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