Since his impressive acting debut as a drug dealer in Spike Lee’s film “Clockers,” “ER” newcomer Mekhi (pronounced “Me-KYE”) Phifer has enhanced his industry profile by putting new twists on classic or beloved roles with his performances in “O” as Othello, the TV movie “Carmen: A Hip-Hopera” -- and last season, as Gale Sayers in the remake of the TV movie “Brian’s Song.”
In his new series regular role on the medical drama, Phifer portrays an arrogant intern whose over-confident tendency to do first -- and ask permission later -- further agitates the already chaotic ER.
Born and raised in New York City, Phifer attended an open casting call there for director Lee’s “Clockers” as a narcotics dealer embroiled in a murder coverup. He followed that impact role with another in the comedy spoof feature “High School High” and continued by co-starring in the fright flick “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer,” starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze, Jr.
On television, Phifer’s credits include the movies “The Tuskegee Airmen,” “Subway Stories” and “Brian’s Song” (as former Chicago Bear Sayers). He received additional notice for his performance opposite singer Beyoncé Knowles (from Destiny’s Child) on MTV’s alternative take on the “Carmen” legend with the movie “Carmen: A Hip-Hopera.” Likewise, he earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for another TV movie, “A Lesson Before Dying,” opposite Don Cheadle.
Among Phifer’s other big-screen credits are “Soul Food,” “Hell’s Kitchen, NYC,” “Tears of a Clown,” and the thriller “An Uninvited Guest” -- as well as “O,” in which he starred as an updated Othello (also starring Julia Stiles and Josh Hartnett) who is the captain of a champion high-school basketball team. He most recently appeared in “The Impostor” (with Gary Sinise, Madeline Stowe and Vincent D’Onofrio of NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”), and will be seen in the upcoming “Paid in Full” and director Curtis Hanson’s “8 Mile,” opposite Eminem, Brittany Murphy and Kim Basinger.
Phifer also guest-starred in the series “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “New York Undercover.” In addition, he appeared in the music video, “The Boy Is Mine,” by Brandy.
Phifer is also the youngest owner of the Athletes Foot, athletic shoe store franchise in California. He is the proprietor of six stores (two of the stores are up and running), and he resides in Los Angeles. His birthday is December 29.