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Avery Brooks AKA Hawk on ‘Spenser: For Hire’ Was 'Blacklisted' by Hollywood - Inside His Life

Edduin Carvajal
Oct 16, 2021
07:20 A.M.

Even though Avery Brooks became nothing short of an icon for his outstanding portrayal of Benjamin Sisko in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Hollywood blacklisted him.

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Almost three decades ago, actor and filmmaker Avery Brooks made history after becoming the first Black actor to be the main star of a "Star Trek" show, and he made sure his character lived up to expectations.

Unfortunately, he has been struggling to book parts in other Hollywood films and TV shows, and according to his on-screen son, Cirroc Lofton, Brooks was blacklisted.

Avery Brooks playing different characters | Photo: Getty Images - YouTube.com/Omega Trek - YouTube.com/Tribute Flight

Avery Brooks playing different characters | Photo: Getty Images - YouTube.com/Omega Trek - YouTube.com/Tribute Flight

RISING TO STARDOM

Born in October 1948, Brooks grew up in a musically inclined family. His maternal grandfather, Samuel Crawford, was probably the most talented as he toured the country with the Delta Rhythm Boys in the '30s.

Brooks inherited the musical gene from Crawford as he plays the piano and can sing pretty well. He has such a great voice that he played bass-baritone Paul Robeson in an eponymous play.

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That is not the only theater production Brooks has worked on, though, as he has also appeared in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and even sang the lead in the opera "X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X."

Avery Brooks on August 12, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Photo: Getty Images

Avery Brooks on August 12, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada | Photo: Getty Images

Brooks made his debut on television in 1984 in "American Playhouse." One year later, his career skyrocketed when he was cast as Hawk in "Spenser: For Hire." He reprised his role in its 1989 spinoff, "A Man Called Hawk."

While Brooks's portrayal of Hawk made him a star, he is best known as Commander Benjamin Sisko on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," especially because he became an inspiration as a leader and a family man.

Booking the role was not easy as more than 100 actors auditioned for it. Luckily, Brooks was the best choice as he successfully took Sisko from a grieving widower and single father to the ship's captain.

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BROOKS CHANGED THE FINALE

The "Star Trek" crew respected Brooks so much that he made a subtle change in the series finale to favor Black men. Throughout the show's seven seasons, Sisko tried to come to terms with his role as the Emissary (a spiritual leader).

In the finale, he joined the Prophets in the Celestial Temple and left behind his human body and regular corporeal life to join them outside of time and space. As a result, he had to abandon his then-pregnant wife and son.

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[Brooks] was willing to contact Michael Jordan to be part of an episode.

Originally, Sisko was supposed to tell his wife that he would never return, so she would have to raise their son as a single mother. However, after shooting the scene, Brooks was uncomfortable as it essentially showed yet another Black man walking away from his pregnant wife.

He thought it was also odd for Sisko to abandon his family given his family-man reputation, a personality trait that not many other Black characters possessed at the time. Thus, Brooks asked executive producer Ira Steven Behr to change the dialogue, and he agreed.

The ending that viewers are familiar with showed Sisko explaining to his wife why he was leaving and assuring her that he would return to her and his family one day. And just like that, Brooks saved his character's image and it earned him the "icon" label.

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ALMOST GETTING A MICHAEL JORDAN EPISODE

Brooks was so involved and invested in the show that he was willing to contact Michael Jordan to be part of an episode. Cirroc Lofton, who portrayed Sisko's son, Jake, once wrote an episode featuring Jordan.

However, the show's writers believed that getting the greatest basketball player in history to appear in "Star Trek" would be impossible. What they didn't know, though, was that Brooks was good friends with Jordan's dad.

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Lofton pitched the episode's idea to Brooks, and he was sure he could get Jordan on board. However, writers insisted that even if Jordan agreed, they couldn't afford him.

Unfortunately, Brooks's career slowed down after "Star Trek" ended, and Lofton once shed light on the possible reason: he had been discriminated against, partly because he's Black.

[A film] director didn't even know who Brooks was, confusing him with Samuel L. Jackson.

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BROOKS WAS BLACKLISTED

In an interview with Orville Nation, Lofton said that Brooks struggled against being "Star Trek's" Black captain, mainly in terms of acceptance.

He pointed out that the other four captains (between the original series and "Enterprise" – William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, and Scott Bakula) were still acting in Hollywood. Lofton added:

"I'm not going to stop screaming that out. I'm going to keep making a point of that because I believe that […] [Brooks] is kind of being discriminated against."

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Behr once told Lofton that other producers didn't want him to hire Brooks for "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" when the show was in development, so the issues with the actor were present even before he portrayed Sisko.

Lofton added that Brooks was willing and capable of taking on more acting gigs in the entertainment industry, but he didn't get opportunities.

Apart from that, Lofton revealed that a director once requested Brooks to star in a movie, but during their first meeting, the director didn't even know who Brooks, confusing him with Samuel L. Jackson "or somebody else."

AVERY BROOKS TODAY

At the moment, Brooks, who became the first Black man to earn a master of fine arts degree in acting and directing from Rutgers University, is a professor of theater at Mason Gross School of the Arts.

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Apart from that, he shifted his focus to music and released a jazz album titled "Here," filled with spoken word poetry and jazz and blues covers.

It is important to point out that Brooks prefers to live his life away from the spotlight, so he didn't appear in the "Star Trek" documentary "What We Left Behind."

However, he was part of William Shatner's documentary "The Captains," where Shatner interviewed the other starship captains from the franchise (including Chris Pine). Most "Star Trek" fans would love to see Avery Brooks back in Hollywood.

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