Chris Rock

The roots and rise of the self titled 'hip hop comedian'. Like Eddie Murphy, this black entertainer has proved a hit with white fans - although his acts have sparked controversy.

Chris Rock was on his way to his chosen profession by his late teens. He grew up in New York and started performing on the stand-up comedy circuit there. One night while on stage at the New York Comedy Strip, Rock was introduced to veteran comedian Eddie Murphy. Murphy was impressed and cast Rock in 'Beverly Hills Cop II' (1987).

The part was not a moment of immediate fame for Rock, but his connection with Eddie Murphy landed him some supporting roles. Eventually he worked his way onto the cast of NBC’s 'Saturday Night Live', where he stayed for three years from 1990 to 1993.

In a break from comedy, Rock played a rather innocent crack addict and police informant in 'New Jack City' (1991), directed by Mario Van Peebles. Rock's performance was well received and showed a more thoughtful, politically concerned character behind the funny man. Although he was comfortable in front of the camera, Rock had ambitions to do some behind the scene work and achieved this when he wrote the story, screenplay and co-produced 1993's 'CB4'.

Rock's scripts confronted the tensions and politics of modern American society, especially among the African-American communities. In 1996, he cemented his reputation as one of the best comedians in the industry with his second stand-up special for HBO entitled 'Bring the Pain', which was well received. He was rewarded with two Emmy Awards for that special, which saw him tackle race tensions in America, while stirring some controversy along the way.

Rock married Malaak Compton on 23 November 1996 and they have two daughters together. Lola Simone was born on 28 June 2002 and Zahra Savannah was born 22 May 2004. It was reported that the pair had filed for divorce in 2006, which the Rocks insisted was a lie. They are still going strong today.

In 1998, Rock got his own show on HBO, 'The Chris Rock Show', which was followed by 'Bigger & Blacker' (1999), 'Never Scared' (2004) and a fifth HBO special, 'Kill the Messenger' (2008), all of which brightened his star power further.

Ever the energetic artist, Rock was not just concentrating on stand-up comedy. He continued to act, as well as write and produce films including 2000's 'Down to Earth' and 2001's 'Pootie Tang'. 2002 saw him appear alongside Anthony Hopkins in the Joel Schumacher/Jerry Bruckheimer action-comedy film 'Bad Company', which unfortunately did not perform well at the box office.

Rock has also appeared in 'Dogma' (1998), 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back' (2000), 'The Longest Yard' (2005), and 'You Don't Mess with the Zohan' (2008) and has voiced the zebra Marty in three films in the 'Madagascar' franchise.

He also enjoyed success creating, producing and narrating 'Everybody Hates Chris' between 2005 and 2009. It was based on Rock's own childhood experiences.

His latest lead roles include Aaron in 'Death at a Funeral' (2010), a remake of a 2007 British film of the same title, and Kurt McKenzie in 'Grown Ups' (and its sequel), which also starred Adam Sandler. He also will appeared in 'What to Expect When You're Expecting' in 2012. He is currently working on a documentary entitled 'Credit is the Devil' about debt.

Rock was also chosen to host the 77th Academy Awards in early 2005 in an attempt to make them more relevant to a younger audience. However, his hosting was met with criticism as he told jokes about Jude Law throughout the ceremony and didn't boost ratings.

His success as an actor, scriptwriter and comedian has placed him in exalted company, including on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, where he was voted the ninth greatest in 2007 and moved a step up in the updated 2010 list.