Corey Hawkins

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Black History & Culture

Corey Hawkins: Biography at a Glance

  • Corey Hawkins is an actor whose breakout began with his role as Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton.
  • He can next be seen in the highly-anticipated The Color Purple, the coming-of-age period drama film, directed by Blitz Bazawule and produced by Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, and Oprah Winfrey.
  • Hawkins also starred in Kong: Skull Island, and Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, which won the Grand Prix award at Cannes.
  • Other credits include FOX’s 24: Legacy, The Walking Dead, and The Piano Lesson.
  • Hawkins received the prestigious John Houseman Prize for excellence in classical theatre and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his standout performance in Six Degrees of Separation.


Corey Hawkins gained recognition with his breakout performance as iconic music producer and hip-hop legend ‘Dr. Dre’ in F. Gary Gray’s N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton

Most recently, Hawkins was recognized for his performance in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, a story about two brothers, Lincoln (Hawkins) and Booth (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who are forced to make a new life for themselves after being abandoned by their parents as teenagers. The play chronicles the brothers’ adult lives in a darkly comedic light, taking a deeper look at generational poverty and identity struggles. Hawkins was nominated for the “Tony Award” for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play. The play was nominated for the “Tony Award” for Best Revival of a Play.

Next, Hawkins will star as ‘Harpo’ in The Color Purple, the coming-of-age period drama film, directed by Blitz Bazawule and produced by Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, and Oprah Winfrey. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, the musical adaptation centers on the life-long struggles of an African American woman living in the south during the early 1900s. Warner Brothers is slated to release the film on December 25, 2023. 

Hawkins will also be seen in the upcoming Netflix feature The Piano Lesson, a revival of the award-winning Broadway show. He will co-star alongside Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington, Ray Fisher, Danielle Deadwyler, and Michael Potts.

Hawkins portrayed ‘Macduff’ in Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, a film adapted from William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. The feature also starred Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, and Brendan Gleeson, among others. From his critically acclaimed performance, Hawkins received the Africa-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor.’ Additionally, the film won the American Film Institute (AFI) Award for ‘Movie of the Year.’

Hawkins starred in Jon M. Chu’s highly anticipated feature film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning-musical, In The Heights. Hawkins portrayed the role of ‘Benny,’ a local in the neighborhood of Washington Heights who falls in love with ‘Nina,’ his boss’ daughter who has just returned home from college.

Hawkins previously starred in the Quibi series, Survive, opposite Sophie Turner. Based on the novel of the same name, each 10-minute episode follows a pair of plane crash survivors who must rely on each other as they battle brutal conditions and personal traumas on a remote snow-covered mountain, while making their way back to civilization. His performance earned him a 2020 Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.

In 2019, Hawkins took a leading role in Michael Bay’s Netflix feature 6 Underground, opposite Ben Hardy, Ryan Reynolds, and Melanie Laurent. The action-thriller follows six billionaires who fake their own deaths and form an elite vigilante squad in order to take down notorious criminals.

In August 2018, Hawkins starred as civil rights leader ‘Stokley Carmichael’ in Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman, adapted from Ron Stallworth’s book of the same name. The film follows an African American detective in Colorado who infiltrates the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and eventually becomes the head of the chapter. The film also stars John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace, and Laura Harrier and won the Grand Prix at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Additionally, the film received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Drama, SAG Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, among other accolades. 

In March 2017, Hawkins starred in Warner Brothers’ “King Kong” prequel tentpole Kong: Skull Island for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Re-teaming with Legendary, Hawkins appeared opposite Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman, and Samuel L. Jackson in the box office smash hit, which earned over $560 million worldwide. 

Hawkins’ additional film credits include Universal Pictures’ Non-Stop as well as Winter’s Tale for Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3.

On the small screen, Hawkins starred as ‘Eric Carter’ in FOX’s 24 reboot, 24: Legacy opposite Miranda Otto and Jimmy Smits. Hawkins’ ‘Carter’ the place of the original ‘Jack Bauer’ role portrayed by Kiefer Sutherland. The series premiered after the 2017 Super Bowl on February 5, 2017. Hawkins also joined the cast of the AMC hit show The Walking Dead in 2015 as ‘Heath,’ a major character in the comic series. His character has made appearances in the sixth and seventh seasons of the series. 

On stage, Hawkins starred on Broadway as ‘Tybalt’ in David Leveaux’s 2013 revival of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet opposite Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad. In April 2017, he returned to Broadway in the highly anticipated revival of John Guare’s iconic drama, Six Degrees of Separation. Hawkins received a “Tony Award” nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play opposite Allison Janney and John Benjamin Hickey during the play’s two-month run. 

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