Richard Brooks

African-American actor Richard Brooks is best known for his role as Assistant District Attorney Paul Robinette on the first three seasons of Law & Order.


African-American actor, director and singer Richard Brooks was born in Ohio in 1962. He began his career as a television actor in made-for-TV features. Brooks became well-known for his role as Assistant District Attorney Paul Robinette on Law & Order from 1990 to 1993. In 1998, he directed and starred in the film Johnny B Good. He founded his own production company, Flat Top Entertainment, through which he released his first solo R&B album, Smooth Love. In 2013, Brooks appeared on the public TV series The Abolitionists as Frederick Douglass, and in the feature film Mr. Sophication.

Early Career

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on December 9, 1962, actor Richard L. Brooks attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, in his youth. He then moved to New York City to study acting at the Circle in the Square Theatre School in 1980.

Brooks began his professional work on the stage, appearing in Equus and Twelfth Night, and creating a role for the premiere of August Wilson's Fences. He made his first television movie, With Intent To Kill, in 1984. Shortly after, he made his feature film debut in Teen Wolf, alongside Michael J. Fox. Other notable film roles soon came Brooks's way, including the part of a sergeant in 84 Charlie MoPic (1989) and the portrayal of Babe Brother in Charles Burnett's To Sleep With Anger (1990).

'Law & Order'

In 1990, Richard Brooks made his debut as a series regular on NBC's Law & Order, playing Assistant District Attorney Paul Robinette. The depth and integrity that Brooks brought to his small but affecting role as the reflective Robinette was further emphasized in contrast to Michael Moriarty's more aggressive character, Executive A.D.A. Ben Stone.

Law & Order producers let Brooks go in 1993 because they wanted a female presence on the show. The timing of this decision was unfortunate for Brooks: It came just one week after he had turned down a role in Spike Lee's Crooklyn. Brooks went on to play a variety of roles, including a drug lord in 1996's The Crow: City of Angels and a small part in the 1998 TV movie The Wedding. He returned to TV in 1999 with a part on the comedy series Good vs Evil; the show proved to be short-lived, however, getting canceled after its second season.

In addition to acting, Brooks made his directorial debut with Johnny B Good (1998), which he also starred in. Additionally, he explored a music career: He released a solo album, Smooth Love, through his own company, Flat Top Entertainment.

In Recent Years

In 2006, Richard Brooks made a guest appearance on Law & Order, reprising his role as Paul Robinette. Other recent credits include guest spots on the shows Lie To Me and Children's Hospital, and the role of famed abolitionist/former slave Frederick Douglass on the public TV series The Abolitionists in 2013.

Also in 2013, Brooks landed a role on the drama series Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union, and had a supporting role in the biographical film Mr. Sophistication.

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