Birth name Christopher Julius Rock III
Born February 7, 1965 (age 50)
Andrews, South Carolina, U.S.
Years active 1984–present
Genres Black humor, musical comedy, observational comedy, political satire, satire
Subject(s) African-American culture, American politics, current events, human sexuality, marriage, pop culture, race relations, racism
Influences Bill Cosby, Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Pigmeat Markham, Woody Allen, Eddie Murphy, Sam Kinison, George Carlin, Mort Sahl, Rodney Dangerfield,
Influenced Dave Chappelle, Christian Finnegan, George Lopez
Spouse Malaak Compton-Rock (1996–2014, divorce filed)
Relative(s) Tony Rock (brother)
Christopher Julius “Chris” Rock III (born February 7, 1965) is an American actor, comedian, voice artist, director, writer, and producer.
After working as a standup comic and appearing in small film roles, Rock came to wider prominence as a cast member of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s. He went on to more prominent film appearances, with roles in Down to Earth (2001), Head of State (2003), the Madagascar film series (2005–2012), Grown Ups (2010), its sequel Grown Ups 2 (2013), and Top Five (2014), and a series of acclaimed comedy specials for HBO. He also developed, wrote, narrated, and executive produced the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris (2005–2009). Rock hosted the 77th Academy Awards in 2005 and will return as host for the 88th ceremony.
He was voted the fifth-greatest stand-up comedian in a poll conducted by Comedy Central. He was also voted in the United Kingdom as the ninth greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups in 2007, and again in the updated 2010 list as the eighth greatest stand-up comic.
Rock was born in Andrews, South Carolina. Shortly after his birth, his parents moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. A few years later, they relocated and settled in the working-class area of Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. His mother, Rosalie (née Tingman), was a teacher and social worker for the mentally handicapped; his father, Julius Rock, was a truck driver and newspaper deliveryman. Julius died in 1988 after ulcer surgery. Chris’s younger brothers, Tony, Kenny, and Jordan, are also in the entertainment business. His older half-brother, Charles, died in 2006 after a long struggle with alcoholism. Rock has said that he was influenced by the performing style of his paternal grandfather, Allen Rock, a preacher.
Rock was bused to schools in predominately white neighborhoods of Brooklyn, where he endured bullying and beatings from white students. As he got older, the bullying became worse and Rock’s parents pulled him out of James Madison High School. He decided to drop out of high school altogether, but he later earned a GED. Rock worked menial jobs at various fast-food restaurants.
Rock married Malaak Compton-Rock on November 23, 1996. Compton-Rock is the founder and executive director of StyleWorks, a non-profit, full-service salon that provides free services for women leaving welfare and entering the workforce. The couple lived in Alpine, New Jersey with their two daughters, Lola Simone (born 2002) and Zahra Savannah (born 2004). In December 2014, Rock announced that he had filed for divorce from Compton-Rock.
In 2007, freelance journalist and former actress Kali Bowyer filed a paternity suit against Rock, claiming he was the father of her son. DNA testing proved that Rock was not the child’s father.
In 2008, Rock’s family history was profiled on the PBS series African American Lives 2. A DNA test showed that he is descended from the Udeme people (Ouldémé) of northern Cameroon. Rock’s great-great-grandfather, Julius Caesar Tingman, was a slave for 21 years before serving as part of the United States Colored Troops until 1866; Tingman fought in the American Civil War. During the 1940s, Rock’s paternal grandfather moved from South Carolina to New York City to become a taxicab driver and preacher.
Rock is a vocal critic of racial profiling and often speaks of the “everyday racism” he feels he experiences, despite being famous. In a 2013 episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, Rock and Seinfeld are pulled over by the police for speeding. In the episode Rock admits to Seinfeld that “If you weren’t here, I’d be scared. Yeah, I’m famous – still black.” In 2015, Rock was pulled over three times in the first three months. Each time Rock posted a selfie of the incident, so far without further comment as to the reason for the stops.