Terrence Howard was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Anita Jeanine Williams (née Hawkins) and Tyrone Howard. He was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. His love for acting came naturally, through summers spent with his great-grandmother, New York stage actress Minnie Gentry. He later began his acting career after being discovered on a New York City street by a casting director. Soon, he followed with several notable TV appearances on shows such as Living Single (1993), NYPD Blue (1993) and Soul Food (2000). He became well known for his lead role in the UPN TV series Sparks (1996). Howard broke onto the big screen with his riveting performance in Mr. Hollands Opus (1995). Howards most memorable performances to date are of scene-stealing characters such as Cowboy in the Hughes brothers film Dead Presidents (1995) and as Quentin in Malcolm D. Lees Independent film The Best Man (1999). The latter earning him a NAACP Image Award, Independent Spirit Award nomination and a Chicago Film Critics Award nomination. A self taught musician, Howard plays both the piano and the guitar.