Morgan Freeman, Now 85 Years Old, Started Acting at Age 9, But 'Lean on Me' Changed Everything

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman, an actor, director, and narrator who is well-known for his distinctively deep voice and for playing a variety of roles in a wide range of film genres, began acting in school plays in his hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi when he was just 9 years old.

When Freeman made he made his acting debut as the main character in a school play. At the age of twelve, he won a statewide drama competition and while settling into school, he also discovered music and theater. He went further to study Theatre Arts at Los Angeles City College where a teacher pushed him to pursue a dancing career.

He rose to fame in the 1970s for his role in the children's television series The Electric Company which gave him financial stability and recognition among American audiences.

His breakout role was in Street Smart (1987), playing a hustler, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and he achieved further stardom in Glory (1989), the biographical drama Lean on Me in which Freeman portrays a school principal at an under-performing and drug- and crime-ridden New Jersey high school.

He also starred in the comedy-drama Driving Miss Daisy (1989), the latter of which garnered him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He has won several other awards throughout his career spanning over five decades, including an Academy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Golden Globe Award.

In addition to acting, Freeman has directed the drama Bopha in 1993 and he also founded a film production company Revelations Entertainment with business partner Lori McCreary.

He is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor, the AFI Life Achievement Award, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

For his performances in theatrical productions, he has won three Obie Awards, one of the most prestigious honors for recognizing excellence in theatre.

He also owns and operates Ground Zero, a Blues club in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and is the former co-owner of Madidi, a fine dining restaurant in the same city.