With a career that spans nearly 25 years, A. Russell Andrews is the founding member and producing artistic director of the multi-award winning Los Angeles-based stage company, StageWalkers. The company has received over 30 LA Theatre award nominations and wins that include two NAACP Theatre Awards and two LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards (L.A.’s version of the Tony Award) for his work with Pulitzer Prize winning author August Wilson’s Piano Lesson, Jitney, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in which Andrews received an NAACP Theatre Award for Best Actor. As 'Youngblood' in Jitney, Andrews, along with Wilson and the stellar cast that starred Roger Robinson, Keith Randolph Smith and multiple Tony Nominee, Dr. Stephen McKinley Henderson were the recipients of the 2002 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play performed at The Royal National Theatre in London, directed by award-winning director Marion McClinton.
Andrews recently appeared in Lifetime’s Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland
directed by Academy Award-Nominated filmmaker Dianne Houston, CBS’ NCIS: New Orleans and AMC’s Better Call Saul. Andrews, who received a 2016 Emmy consideration for his role in TV One’s Runaway Island, can be seen later this summer in Season 2 of HBO’s Insecure. He was also in Kate Marks' short film Manic (2017 Tribeca Film Festival) which is currently streaming on HBO. Other memorable TV and film credits include Earl in Arun K. Vir's multi-award-winning indie film Reset; The Pastor in Straight Outta Compton directed by F. Gary Gray; The In-Laws (with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks), The Punisher (with John Travolta and Tom Jane) and Hanelle Culpepper's award-winning short, A Single Rose. Selected television credits include guest star and recurring roles in Emmy-nominated shows such as Grey's Anatomy, Harry's Law, The Defenders, The Nine, Boston Legal, CSI: Miami, The Bernie Mac Show and Numb3rs.
An alumnus of Houston’s Ross Sterling High School and Northwest Academy, Andrews began his acting career at home at The Ensemble Theatre. Several productions later and after the National/International tours of Thomas Meloncon’s The Diary of Black Men, Andrews graduated to the city's largest venue, The Alley Theatre. After breakthrough performances as 'Willie' in the stage version of David Felshuh's drama Miss Evers' Boys and ‘Levee’ in August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Andrews moved to Washington, D.C. to study Shakespeare at The Folger Shakespeare Library and landed the role of Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew. Andrews later relocated to New York City where his first role was at the famed Playwrights Horizons as Superboy in Marion McClinton's Police Boys. He continued to study, gaining national recognition and become a regular face in the regional theatre and Off-Broadway circuit. Andrews has performed around the U.S. and across the Atlantic where on the London Stages “intense” and “passionate” were commonly associated with his work.
Andrews and August Wilson
Russell entered the August Wilson camp in 1990 when he was cast as Jeremy Furlough in Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone at Houston's Alley Theatre. That production starred the late Roscoe Lee Browne and New York veteran actor/director Saundra McClain and was also the beginning of a lifetime relationship with Wilson as well as friend and mentor Claude Purdy. In 1993 Mr. Andrews was called back to The Alley Theatre, again by Purdy, to play the role of 'Levee' opposite Stage, TV and Film star Theresa Merritt reprising her Broadway role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. That performance solidified Russell's place in Wilson's stable of actors and as a result led to the request by Wilson for him to reprise the role at the 20th Anniversary of The Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In other productions, Mr. Andrews played Red Carter in Mr. Wilson's Seven Guitars at The Pittsburgh Public Theater and Baltimore's Center Stage. Also at The Public Theatre as an August Wilson 'hired gun' Russell was one of the handpicked actors chosen in 1996 to develop the much anticipated re-write of Mr. Wilson's 70's drama, Jitney. In 1999 Mr. Andrews was called upon to create and develop the role of Mister in the world premier of Wilson's King Hedley II at The Pittsburgh Public Theater and in subsequent runs at The Seattle Repertory Theatre in Washington state and The Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, Massachusetts. In the midst of King Hedley's 2000 pre-broadway tour Mr. Andrews was asked to return to Jitney in NYC. The production played off-broadway to sold out houses at New York's Second Stage Theatre and Union Square Theatre and after eight months in New York the play moved overseas to The Royal National Theatre in London, England.