Thomas Jefferson Byrd “June 25, 1950 – October 3, 2020” was an American character actor who starred in many of director Spike Lee’s films. He was nominated for Best Outstanding Actor for the Tony Award for his performance in Ma Rainey’s remake of Black Bottom on 2003 Broadway.
Byrd received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Morris Brown College and later a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance from the California Institute of the Arts.
Byrd has appeared in several regional stage productions, including the San Diego Repertory Theater’s award-winning Spunk performance. He also played Home Samm-Art by Evans, Running two Trains, Piano Lesson and Ma Rainey at Black Bottom at the Alliance Theater, Flyin ‘in the West, Hamlet and Miss Evers’ Boys at the Indiana Repertoire and Flyin’ West’s in Brooklyn Academy of Music and the longest Wharf Theater. For his Broadway debut, a performance in the 2003 remake of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Byrd received a Tony Award nomination for best actor.
Byrd has appeared in many of Spike Lee’s films, including Clockers, Get on the Bus, Bamboozled, Red Hook Summer, and Chi-Raq. Byrd also appeared in Lee’s Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It as Stokely Darling. Other movies include Set It Off, Ray and Brooklyn’s Finest.
After an emergency call was made at around 1:45 pm on October 3, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia, Byrd was found unresponsive with multiple bullet wounds in his back and declared dead by local paramedics. A spokesman for the Atlanta police said that the homicide detectives (trying to identify the circumstances surrounding the incident) said.
Year Title Role Notes
1995 Watchmakers Errol Barnes 1996 Girl 6 Caller 18
1996 Get on the bus Evan Thomas Sr.
1996 Founding Luther
1997 Touch Me Country Doctor
1998 Game Have Sweetness
1998 Bulworth Rafeeq Uncle
2000 Trois Thomas
2000 Deceived Honeycutt
2001 MacArthur Park Cody
2002 Never Going out of the Boat William Ellis
2002 Kudzu Christmas Priest Burton
2004 X, Y Marcus
2004 Ray Jimmy
2009 Brooklyn’s Best Uncle Jeb
2010 Jimmy the Bronx Paradise
2012 Red Hook Summer Deacon Zee
Bishop Zee, the Sweet Blood of Jesus in 2014
2015 Chi-Raq Apollo
2020 Path to Freedom Abner Posthumous release; Last movie role.
Year Title Role Notes
1992 In the Heat of the Night Louis Arthur Episode: “Random’s Child”
1993 I’ll Fly Far Away: Then and Now Panhandler TV movie
1997 The Single Living Mr. Leon Episode: “Time to Save Moonlight”
1998 Mama Flora’s Family Flora’s Pa 2 episodes
1999 Passing Victory TV movie
2001 Boycott Raymond Parks TV film
2004 Law and Order: Criminal Intent Curtis Romney Episode: “Mad Hops”
2005 Lackawanna Blues Numb Finger Pete TV movie
2017–19 Must have it Stokely Darling 10 episodes
2020 Latest OG Jimmy Episode: “Family Case”
“Thomas Jefferson Byrd” was shot dead in Atlanta. New to longtime crimes against blacks? added!!!