Ji-Tu Cumbuka is one of the many African American actors who overcame walls of adversity in the 60′s. Born in Montgomery County, Alabama in an era of oppression, Ji-Tu did not let cultural norms hold him back from what he loved. Opportunities were slim, an African American actor of the 40′s and 50′s held roles as house maids or were confined to the parody roles of minstrel shows. Being born in a society of black and white, Ji-Tu defined what the basis of the Civil Rights Movement was. He saw his first movie “Shane” at the age of 12 years old which stimulated his desire to become an actor.
Receiving discouragement from all sides, from teachers laughing at his aspirations and suggesting he be more realistic to his father, a Baptist minister who believed acting was “the devil’s work”. Inspired by his mother who believed he could achieve any dream with God’s help, he left home and moved to New York.
After several difficult years he joined the Army where he played football and ran track. Ji-Tu made All-Army in both sports. He was offered many college scholarships, but chose to attend Texas Southern University. After Texas Southern he felt it was time to move to California to continue to pursue his acting dreams.
While working as an actor, Ji-Tu continued his education earning a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a Masters Degree in Cinematography. After three years of attending acting classes and acting in community plays and workshops he landed his first top role in the movie “Uptight” directed by the late director Jules Dassin. Cumbuka is famed for roles in movies such as the epic film “Roots”, “Harlem Nights”, “Brewster’s Millions”, “Mandingo” and “Bound for Glory”, as well as minor appearances in thirty other films.
In television, Cumbuka is acclaimed for roles in major shows as “Knots Landing”, “The A-Team”, “The Dukes of Hazard”, “Walker Texas Ranger” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”.
In total Ji-Tu has made appearances in over 100 films and television series. Ji-Tu Cumbuka’s journey is a reflection of fiery passion and strength that will burn everlasting. He is the author of several screenplays and is presently pursuing opportunities as a writer, producer and director.