Bill Bellamy

A handsome African-American stand-up comic who segued into a successful acting career while hosting the popular R&B music video and interview series "MTV Jams," Bill Bellamy seemed a natural performer, but nearly didn't become an entertainer at all. Goaded into entering a male beauty pageant while studying economics at Rutgers University, Bellamy had to decide on a routine for the talent competition and wrote a short comedy act that wowed the crowd. Excited by the reaction, he decided to pursue a career in stand-up and began performing in clubs in 1988. In 1990, Bellamy made his national TV debut on the NBC series "It's Showtime at the Apollo," winning over what is largely believed to be one of the toughest audiences for an obscure performer. Quickly making a name for himself in the business, Bellamy headlined the Def Comedy Jam National Tour in 1992 and was featured that same year in the "HBO Comedy Hour" presentation "The 15th Annual Young Comedians Show -- Hosted by Dana Carvey." 1993 marked Bellamy's debut on the big screen, appearing in the features "Who's the Man?" and "Joey Breaker."