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Michael Ealy

Terp magazine profiles actor Michael Ealy '96.

By Monette A. Bailey, Terp Magazine

When Michael Ealy ’96 left for New York after graduation to pursue an acting career, his family took bets on how long he’d last, and no one guessed more than a year. Ealy won.

The handsome native of Silver Spring, Md., has become known for strong secondary performances in film and TV dramas, and had his first starring role in the recent hit comedy “Think Like a Man,” based on radio personality Steve Harvey’s popular advice book. Ealy also shares top billing in USA Network’s new buddy cop sitcom “Common Law.”

Ealy says the romantic, funnier characters are more like him, and he’s as thankful for the switch in roles as he is for steady work in a finicky industry.

“What I do doesn’t cure cancer,” he says. “I know now that I don’t have to take it or myself so seriously. It’s been liberating.”

Ealy has worked with top names, such as director Spike Lee and actors Will Smith and Taraji P. Henson, and landed roles on TV shows “Sleeper Cell” and “The Good Wife,” and the TV movie “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”

He didn’t always think his future lay in acting, though. An English major, he concentrated on African-American studies. Professors thought Ealy was on the verge of becoming the next Cornel West, the fiery black intellectual and activist.

Ealy enjoyed the coursework and the professors who respected his perspectives, he says, and the result was “the best degree I could possibly get. I was just enthralled.”

Then two childhood friends asked him to perform in their film after his sophomore year. He caught the acting bug and did some local plays. “I realized I was passionate about both [my studies and acting].” Once he earned his degree, Ealy felt he could risk “figuring out
this dream.”

Ealy, now a Los Angeles resident, says he’s been “blessed to make a lot of good decisions,” allowing him a life that includes attending red carpet movie screenings and being “Uncle Mike” to five godchildren.

“I can fall asleep on the couch and no one takes pictures. No special treatment,” he says. “It’s nice.”


Aaron McGruder ’98, creator of “The Boondocks,” the critically acclaimed comic strip and TV series, provided the opening animation sequence for “Think Like a Man,” through his company, Partner Rumble Studio. It depicts how courtship rituals have changed over time.