Who is Mekhi Phifer?
Mekhi Phifer is an American actor, who is perhaps most widely known for starring in the recurring role of Dr. Gregory Pratt in the Golden Globe-winning TV medical drama series “ER”. Additionally, he is recognized for appearing in several popular movies such as “8 Mile” (2002), “Honey” (2003) and “Dawn of the Dead” (2004).
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He was raised alongside his twin brother in Manhattan’s neighborhood of Harlem by a single mother named Rhoda, who was a high school teacher.
Mekhi dived into the world of acting at the age of 20 when he was cast for the role of a drug dealer Strike in Spike Lee’s critically praised crime thriller movie “Clockers”. For his debut performance, he was honored with a nomination for the Chicago Film Critics Association Award’s Most Promising Actor accolade.
Following this success, later that year young Phifer appeared in the Golden Globe-nominated TV war drama movie “The Tuskegee Airmen” after which he appeared in a couple of episodes of the TV series “New York Undercover”. In 1996 he was cast in the comedy film “High School High”, after which he portrayed the recurring character of Nathaniel Lee ‘Junior Bunk’ Mahoney in the TV crime series “Homicide: Life on the Street”.
These were followed by two big screen appearances in 1997 comedy movies, “Hav Plenty” and “Soul Food”.
After a brief appearance in the 1998 film “Hell’s Kitchen”, Mekhi appeared alongside Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt in the slasher horror movie “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” – the second sequel in the “I Know What You Did Last Summer” film franchise.
In 1999, Mekhi landed his first main role when he starred as Silk in the thriller movie “Uninvited Guest”, while in 2000 he appeared alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Christian Bale in the action movie “Shaft”. In 2001, he starred opposite Beyoncé in the TV musical drama movie “Carmen: A Hip Hopera” after which he starred in the leading role of Odin James in the thriller movie “O”.
These roles were followed by an appearance in the 2001 Sci-Fi mystery movie “Impostor” based on the eponymous short novel by Philip K. Dick. In 2002 he starred in the comedy film “The Other Brother”, after which he portrayed the main character in the critically acclaimed action crime movie “Paid in Full”. Phifer came into prominence later in 2002, when he starred as David ‘Future’ Porter alongside Eminem in the Oscar-winning film “8 Mile” – he is also mentioned in Eminem’s hit single “Lose Yourself”, which was one of the movie’s theme songs.
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This major big screen appearance was followed by one of his most widely recognized on-screen appearances so far – the recurring role of Dr. Greg Pratt in the popular TV medical drama series “ER”, in a total of 135 episodes through the show’s seven seasons ’til 2009.
In the meantime he also starred as Chaz in the romantic drama movie “Honey”, while in 2004 Mekhi appeared in Zac Snyder’s horror blockbuster film “Dawn of the Dead”. Between 2009 and 2010 he guest starred as Ben Reynolds in the TV series “Lie to Me”, after which he appeared opposite Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd in the crime comedy film “Flypaper” in 2011.
After his recurring role of the Agent Rex Matheson in the TV series “Torchwood”, in 2014 Phifer starred as Dre Collins in the Golden Globe-winning TV series “House of Lies”, and also appeared in the Hollywood Sci-Fi spectacle movie “Divergent”, which grossed close to $290 million worldwide. In 2015 he reprised his role of Max in its sequel entitled “The Divergent Series: Insurgent”, while in 2016 he appeared in the final installment of the “Divergent” franchise named “Allegiant”.
In 2016 Mekhi was cast in the first season of the TV series “Secret City”, after which he occasionally portrayed the role of Satch Reyna in the TV series “Frequency”.
His latest on-screen acting engagements include the recurring role of Markus Knox in the TV crime thriller series “Truth Be Told”, as well as the role of Harold Brooks in the TV comedy series “Love, Victor”.
In 1999, Mekhi married a colleague, American actress Malinda Williams with whom he welcomed a son named Omikaye before their split in 2003. With Onanong Souratha, to whom he was briefly engaged, he has another son, named Mekhi Thira Phifer, Jr. Since March 2013, Phifer has been married to Reshelet Barnes, recently appointed manager of Fox Cable News network’s creative services division.
Apart from being an accomplished actor, Mekhi is a businessman and a philanthropist. He is one of the owners of the sport apparel retail franchise ‘Athlete’s Foot’, running six stores through the state of California. Additionally, being heavily engaged within The Vine Group charity organization, he’s donated over $100,000 in school supplies and scholarships to the city of Ibadan in Nigeria. To honor his unselfish efforts, in 2005 the city opened the Mekhi Phifer Education Center.
Despite having a promising career and an abundant acting portfolio, when it comes to Mekhi’s wealth the situation is not that bright. In 2014 he filed for bankruptcy, claiming that his assets include property valued at only $67,000 with total debt of $1.3 million. Additionally, Mekhi listed that his monthly income figures around $7,500, while his expenses revolve around $11,000. Speaking as of second half of 2020, authoritative sources have estimated that Mekhi Phifer’s net worth has a negative balance of $1.3 million of which $1.2 million he owes in taxes.