October 24: Happy Birthday Raul Esparza and Drake
Raúl Esparza is turning 47 today. He graduated from NYU in 1992 and made his screen debut in a guest role on Spin City in 1997. He has made guest appearances on series such as Pushing Daisies and A Gifted Man, and appeared in the recurring role of Frederick Chilton on NBC’s Hannibal. He has had roles in feature films such as My Soul to Take and Custody. However, his best known screen role is undoubtedly as Rafael Barba on Law & Order: SVU; he has been a regular on the long-running series since 2013.
On stage, Esparza is a major star. He made his Broadway debut, to much acclaim, in 2000, as Riff Raff in a revival of The Rocky Horror Show. He has gone on to be a four-time Tony nominee, once in each of the four major acting categories (Best Actor and Best Featured Actor in both a Musical and a Play). He has been seen on Broadway in Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow, Taboo (with lyrics and music from Boy George), and Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and Company (to give a partial listing). The 2006 revival of Company, in which Esparza starred as Bobby, was recorded and broadcast by PBS and later released on DVD and Blu-ray.
Rapper Aubrey Drake Graham, known as Drake, is turning 31 today. He made his performing debut at 15, in the role of Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation, and was a regular on the show for seven seasons. During his time on the show he began releasing mixtapes, with increasing success. His third mixtape, So Far Gone, was successful enough that four tracks from it were released as an EP, while three singles off of it charted on the Hot 100, one of them, “Best I Ever Had,” reaching #1. He then signed a recording contract and released his first studio album, Thank Me Later in 2010.
Drake has released four studio albums, along with two commercial mixtapes and the playlist/mixtape More Life, which came out earlier this year. He has had 13 Top 10 singles, and a number of #1 hits on the Rap and R&B charts. His second studio album, Take Care, brought him his first Grammy, and earlier this year he won two more for his single “Hotline Bling,” off of his Views album.
Australian actress Jacqueline McKenzie is turning 50 today. She has had an extremely successful career in Australian theater, and made her Broadway debut earlier this year in The Present. She is known for films like Romper Stomper, Deep Blue Sea, and The Water Diviner, and was a regular on USA Network’s The 4400.
Shenae Grimes, who turns 28, is also a former regular on Degrassi: The Next Generation, and then starred on 90210 as Annie Wilson. Native American actor Zahn McClarnon, currently a regular on AMC’s The Son, is 51 today. Jemima Rooper, who is 36, has had a significant career in English theater and was a regular on the British series As If.
Bob Kane (1915-1998) was a comic book artist and writer who spent three decades at DC Comics. He is best known as the co-creator, along with Bill Finger, of one of the most eternally popular DC characters, Batman.
One year ago on this date our headliners were Kevin Kline and F. Murray Abraham.
Kevin Kline is turning 70. He played Belle’s father Maurice in Beauty and the Beast, and also starred in a Broadway revival of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter. F. Murray Abraham, who is 78, continues in the role of Dar Adal on Homeland.
Martin Campbell’s first feature in six years, The Foreigner, was released in the US earlier this month. He is 74 today. Katie McGrath, who celebrates her 34th, has become a regular as Lena Luthor on Supergirl. Eliza Taylor is 28 today; she continues to star as Clarke Griffin on The 100. B. D. Wong is turning 57; he appeared in the sci-fi/romance The Space Between Us and will return to the role of Dr. Henry Wu in Jurassic World: Forbidden Kingdom.
If today is your birthday, congratulations on sharing your big day with these notable names. Birthday wishes to everyone celebrating a big day today. Come back tomorrow for more celebrity birthdays.