In "Mr. Holland's Opus," he was the high-school drummer who couldn't find the beat. In "Crash," he played the TV director who had a run-in with the cops. And in the Academy Award-winning movie "Ray," he played the nightclub owner who gave Ray Charles his first paying gig.
With the opening of "Hustle & Flow" last week, Howard steps out of the supporting cast and into the lead. At 36, he is ready for his close-up.
Look for Howard's interview on The Saturday Early Show .
"Hustle & Flow,", which won a $9 million distribution deal at the Sundance Film Festival, is getting impressive reviews.
Howard plays DJay, a Memphis pimp with a mid-life crisis and a career change on his mind. With the help of his friends, he's trying to launch a rap career. If they can attract the attention of successful rapper Skinny Black, they just might be the "next big thing."
So far, 2005 has been a banner year for Howard. He has appeared in seven movies: "Crash," "Hustle & Flow," "Four Brothers," "Get Rich or Die Trying," "Lackawanna Blues," "Their Eyes Were Watching God," and the outcast musical, "My Life in Idlewild."
The list doesn't end there. According to Essence Magazine, Spike Lee has chosen him to play Joe Louis in a biopic.
"Hustle & Flow" is earning Howard strong reviews, for a role he was reluctant to accept.