The Untold Truth Of Anthony Anderson

Film and television viewers have become well acquainted with Anthony Anderson over the years. That's not surprising, given that his long list of screen credits, as laid out by IMDb, extends back to the early 1990s. Fans have literally watched him grow up (and slim down) onscreen over the years. 

Anderson's familiarity to TV viewers comes from decades of increasingly bigger roles, from early bit parts on TV series such as "JAG," "Ally McBeal," and "NYPD Blue" to eventually headlining several of his own shows. While establishing himself on the small screen, Anderson also carved out a niche in film, appearing in movies ranging from Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" to "Scream 4" to the Robert de Niro vs. Sylvester Stallone boxing flick "Grudge Match."

Despite his increasing profile during his first two decades as an actor, Anderson's biggest success didn't come until middle age, with his starring role in ABC's hit sitcom "Black-ish." With "Black-ish" ending its eight-season run in 2022, Anderson will be exiting on a high note and will no doubt be availing himself of the lucrative opportunities available to a Hollywood star at his critical and commercial peak. To find out even more about this multitalented actor and comedian, read on to discover the untold truth of Anthony Anderson.

Tackling both comedy and drama

It's not hyperbole to state that Anthony Anderson's acting career has been somewhat eclectic over the years. As IMDb illustrates, early roles ranged from the action-heavy crime thriller "Romeo Must Die" to alleged comedy "Kangaroo Jack," which is widely reviled and considered by some to be cinema's all-time worst movie.

However, in those early years, Anderson was far more associated with comedies, and he appeared in numerous sitcoms (including his own, "All About the Andersons") and a string of wacky big-screen comedy hits including "Big Mama's House," "Me, Myself and Irene," "Barbershop," and entries in the "Scary Movie" and "Harold & Kumar" franchises. At a certain point, however, Anderson made a mid-career shift to embrace more serious fare, appearing in such well-respected television crime dramas as "Law & Order" and "The Shield," in addition to critically acclaimed big-screen drama "Hustle & Flow." That shift, he explained in an interview with Exclaim, was not by accident.

"I was typecast as just a comedic actor or the fat funny guy," Anderson said of his determination to demonstrate he was capable of much more than Hollywood's perception of him. "I always sort of never wanted to be placed in a box, you know, I never wanted to be defined by just one thing. I wanted to show the world that there was more to me than the laughter ... I hadn't been afforded the opportunity to really flex that dramatic muscle."

Anthony Anderson loves gardening

When Anthony Anderson needs to destress and enter his own personal chill zone, he heads straight to his garden. "Gardening is therapeutic for me," Anderson professed in a video interview with GQ. "On the weekends, and my down time, I'm in there playing with the earth — that centers me, and just brings me peace and calm." Anderson also pointed out that the vegetables he grows "are dependent upon you being there for them, nurturing them, and taking care of them, and if you give them the right foundation, they grow." 

Anderson opened up even more about his gardening addiction during a 2021 appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

"I've been gardening, man, for 10 years now," Anderson told host Jimmy Kimmel, admitting that his "Black-ish" schedule was preventing him from getting out in his garden as much as he'd like. Prior to "Black-ish," however, "I was in there every day, and just growing everything." In fact, Anderson occasionally shares the "bounty" of his garden on social media, such as a 2013 Twitter post showcasing his homegrown "jalapeños, serranos, tomatillos, okra, bell peppers, and peppercinis!"

Kimmel showed his audience a photo of Anderson's 1,000-square foot community garden, with the actor proudly declaring he'd built the entire thing all by himself. "I brought in my own soil, turned it, it's all organic, and I grow everything that's in season," he explained. 

The piano purchase

When Anthony Anderson was a child, he was apparently a handful and a half. Or at least that was how he described himself during a 2020 visit to "The Kelly Clarkson Show," when he confessed to a crime that melded youthful exuberance with outright fraud. "Speaking of whuppings, I did put my mother through something," he revealed. "I bought a baby grand piano at the age of 13 or so with my mother's credit card, without telling her that."

As host Kelly Clarkson's jaw literally dropped, Anderson explained the story behind his teenage dabbling in credit card fraud. "My mother put me in piano lessons, but she put me in an advanced class," Anderson said. "On top of that, not only was it an advanced class, but we didn't have a piano for me to practice when I got home. So two weeks into it, I bought a piano with my mother's credit card and they delivered it."

You'd better believe Anderson was "disciplined" by his furious mom. Given that "the statute of limitations are up," he described his punishment. "She tied me to the avocado tree in the backyard, and whipped me with the fan belt of an '84 Ford Courier," he recalled. Clarkson, by the way, could not top that story, revealing the worst thing she did as a child was stealing a twenty from her mom's purse to buy ice cream.

Best and worst auditions

Sharing 25 things that people may not know about him to Us Weekly, Anthony Anderson singled out his best audition as being when he went up for a role in "Life," the 1999 comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence as a pair of convicts serving life sentences. As viewers of the movie will recall, Anderson played Cookie, the prison cook. Elaborating in an Us Weekly video interview, he recalled having "multiple" auditions before actually landing the gig, and revealed the above-and-beyond step he took that he thinks won him the role. "I ended up actually cooking for the casting director, and the director, and the producers, and I believe that is what got me the job," Anderson divulged. 

In that same interview, he revealed one of his culinary specialties, although it wasn't clear whether that particular meal was the one that won him the role. "I cook a mean jalapeño cheddar cornbread with tarragon fingerling potatoes and a nice ribeye steak," he boasted.

He also shared details of his "worst audition experience," which took place "when dressed up as a woman" to play the female role during a friend's audition. "I thought I had a great audition," he said, "and the director and producers thought otherwise, and didn't cast either one of us."

Who is Otis Rodriguez?

Anthony Anderson isn't always Anthony Anderson. Under the right circumstances, he will answer to the name of an alter ego he created in order to evade his fame when need be. Chatting with Conan O'Brien on his late-night talk show, the host asked Anderson if he ever uses an alias when checking into hotels. "I do, and I'm about to give away my alias now, so I'm gonna have to change it," said Anderson. "But I normally check under the name Otis Rodriguez. I don't think anybody would ever look for me under that name, Otis Rodriguez."

Anderson joked about a second alias, referencing his resemblance to an old-school "American Idol" winner. "Normally I go under the name Ruben Studdard, 'cause, you know, they say I resemble him, and a few times I got his room — and you'd be surprised what they give an R&B star and an American Idol man," Anderson quipped. "Yeah, yeah, so I've kept some of the gifts," he joked. "I'm him that day."

Another celebrity whom Anderson claimed he was mistaken for was former "ER" star Anthony Edwards. "I don't know how they make that mistake," he joked. 

His Black-ish role

As successful television series progress from season to season, it's not uncommon for the real-life experiences of its stars to make their way into storylines. For Anthony Anderson, the similarity between his "Black-ish" character and his actual self goes even deeper. "My character's name is Andre Johnson; it may as well be Anthony Anderson," said the actor in an interview with WebMD. "It's not far from reality in terms of wanting to give my children better than what I had growing up on the streets of Compton as a kid, just like Andre's trying to do for his kids. That's me you see on the screen."

In fact, an actual incident from Anderson's family was recreated for the very first episode of "Black-ish," when his character's son, whose friends in the upscale school he attends are mainly Jewish, asks his parents to throw him a bar mitzvah so he'll feel like less of a social outcast. "On the show, it became a bro mitzvah," Anderson explained. "The way we write the show, it's often about the experiences I've had with my kids and telling these stories to friends and family. The next thing I know, it's an episode. Everything is pulled directly from our lives."

As Anderson told The Hollywood Reporter, "My son's experience is vastly different than the one I had growing up in Compton amid crack cocaine, gang violence, and drive-by shootings."

Anthony Anderson's net worth

Anthony Anderson is still relatively young, yet he's been acting professionally for decades. In fact, IMDb lists his first television credit as "The Wayans Bros." — playing both "Guy in Jail Cell" and "Guy at Party." He's been a working actor ever since, which has led him to amass a comfortable fortune, estimated by Celebrity Net Worth to be $25 million, earning $400,000 per episode on his ABC sitcom "Black-ish."

In a piece for The Hollywood Reporter, Anderson opened up about his biggest extravagance: a $200,000 Mercedes Maybach. Admitting he'd wanted to drive a Mercedes since "before I could even afford a Mercedes hood ornament," he said the car's six-figure price tag "did not give me pause. It was a reward to myself. I've come a long way. Looking back, I think my younger self would look at my older self and be proud and commend me on the hard work."

Anderson doesn't consider his Maybach to be "a trophy car" and explained why owning such a prestigious (and ridiculously expensive) car isn't just for showing off, with his "favorite thing" being able to take his mother and grandmother for a ride. "Those are the benefits: to see the smile on my grandmother's face, who's 86, and to have her stretch her legs out in the backseat of the Maybach," he said. "I measure my success by the things I am able to do for and with family."

His kids and money

Anthony Anderson may have risen from humble beginnings to provide his family with the kind of financial security he never experienced as a child, yet he was also cognizant of not wanting to raise spoiled, entitled children whose life plan involved living off a trust fund. To ensure that didn't happen, as he revealed in an interview with Dallas-Forth Worth's LX News, he cut off his oldest children from accessing his money. While his son embarked on a successful acting career, his daughter's story is different. 

"My 24-year-old daughter is in grad school at the University of Houston. Those purse strings were just recently cut when she decided grad school was not for her anymore," Anderson said. "Well, neither is my checkbook." In fact, Anderson said he's been clear with his kids that he'll fund them while they're in school but not beyond that. 

He shared the financial advice that has stood him in good stead throughout his life and which he's imparted to his kids. "Plan for the future. Because you never know what the future is going to hold," he explained. "Being in the business that I'm in, we strike while the iron is hot. Everything can be great today but tomorrow is a completely different story. It can start with as little as a dollar. You don't have to be a multimillionaire to plan for your financial future."

Clashing with a co-star

Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross have portrayed married couple Andre and Bow Johnson on "Black-ish" since the show's debut in 2014. However, there was a time when the future co-stars clashed on the air when they co-hosted the Vibe Awards for UPN in 2005. 

As Ross declared in Entertainment Weekly's "The Awardist" podcast, "I hated him. He did something while we were working, I thought it was totally inappropriate!" Anderson confessed his sin. "I made a fart joke!" he said, admitting at the time that he thought nothing of it. Ross, however, has a slightly different recollection. "You made a fart joke at my expense on stage!" she scolds of the moment, which led to Anderson issuing an on-the-fly apology while they were on camera. "I was just joking about that earlier, I was the one that pooted," a seemingly chastened Anderson tells her. "Oh God, Anthony," says Ross with more than a hint of annoyance in her voice.

"I was like, 'Not appropriate! I don't know you that well! What are you thinking?' And I held this resentment forever," Ross recalled in the 2021 podcast. "And now, look — I love this man! This man is like the best TV husband ever."

His diabetes diagnosis

Anthony Anderson was just in his early 30s when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. However, Anderson admitted he responded to what should have been a wakeup call by pushing the snooze button. "I didn't deal with it as seriously as I should have in the beginning," he told Everyday Health. "I listened, but I didn't really implement that into my life until much later. I wasn't the best patient to my doctor."

That alarm became impossible to ignore when his father passed away at a relatively young age due to complications from type 2 diabetes, leaving Anderson with the realization he needed to make some lifestyle changes if he wanted to avoid the same fate. "I saw what living my life the way I was living it up until the point when I was diagnosed — I saw what that got me: It got me type 2 diabetes," Anderson said. As a result, he began eating healthier and exercising regularly. He ultimately shed 47 pounds, telling ABC News that at his heaviest, he weighed 270 pounds.

He also arrived at an important epiphany, and it's one he believes needs to be embraced by others. "Young men especially have to go to the doctor," Anderson told WebMD. "They'll take their car in for an oil change every 3,000 miles, they'll care for an inanimate object, but they won't go get themselves checked out. They need to do that."

Getting fit

In May 2021, Will Smith took to Instagram to share an unflattering photo of himself, revealing a flabby physique and a protruding gut. "I'm gonna be real wit yall — I'm in the worst shape of my life," Smith wrote, two days later upping the ante by challenging his social media followers to join him in a 14-week health and fitness challenge. 

As Anderson told GQ, he and Smith's other golf buddies — a crew that includes George Lopez, Don Cheadle, and Marlon Wayans — immediately suspected Smith's posts were some kind of a publicity stunt. However, they also took him up on his challenge. "Well, you know, Will Smith thinks he's better than everybody to begin with. So we had to show him he's not all that great," Anderson quipped. "When he issued the challenge we all expected that Will's gonna cheat. We're supposed to be doing this with no trainers. Will has a team of trainers ... So it's OK, Will. I've just got 35-pound weights in my house in my backyard and a Peloton. That's how I'm gonna do mine."

As Anderson pointed out, "The challenge is really about diet more than exercise." Noting the importance of nutritious food, he said anyone trying to get fitter can start by making "healthier choices throughout the day" and eating what they know they should eat.

A near-divorce

Anthony Anderson married wife Alina Stewart in 1995, and she's been by his side during the decades of career success that followed. Their marriage hit a rough patch in 2015, however, when TMZ reported she filed for divorce. In the divorce filing, the outlet noted, she listed "irreconcilable differences" as the reason and the date of separation as April 1, 2014.

Apparently, those differences weren't entirely irreconcilable, because the couple later reconciled. Just over two years later, Entertainment Tonight reported she had requested that her divorce filing be dismissed.

The following year, Anderson and his wife had apparently patched things up and had achieved a certain level of domestic stability. During an October 2018 appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," Anderson discussed sending the youngest of their two children off to college — while their daughter, who'd been in college, moved back into their home. "You know, people think we're empty nesters — nope!" Anderson declared. "Found out a new term: boomerang. That's when your kid goes off to college, and you think they're gone, but they come back home."

Numerous Emmy nods

In addition to providing Anthony Anderson with millions of dollars and millions of viewers, "Black-ish" also earned him a whopping 11 Emmy nominations, a number that includes seven consecutive nods in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy series category — every year since "Black-ish" had been on the air.

When he received his seventh nomination in 2021, Anderson joked to People that he was "feeling like the Black Susan Lucci," referencing the iconic "All My Children" star who received a staggering 18 Daytime Emmy noms before finally winning in 1999. By then, he admitted, the novelty had long since worn off. "I was ready for the nomination streak to end a long time ago. This is the seventh nomination. Eleven total, but yeah I'm done with the nomination part," he told People. "It's time for a win. I'll be honest. It's time for a win." If he were to win, he predicted, "I'll probably cry, scream, I might even cuss a little bit. I don't know. You never know until you're in that moment."

Unfortunately, his Lucci-esque streak held solid for another year. The 2021 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series didn't go to Anderson but to "Ted Lasso" star Jason Sudeikis.

Anthony Anderson's mom

While Anthony Anderson has appeared in his fair share of dramas and comedies, it wasn't until the summer of 2016 that he added "game show host" to his list of accomplishments with the debut of ABC's "To Tell the Truth." A reboot of a format that first hit the air in 1956 (hosted by veteran "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace), Anderson put his own unique stamp on his version.

One big way he accomplished that was by enlisting his mother, Doris Hancox, to be the show's scorekeeper. According to ABC News, Anderson's mom so dazzled producers with her vivacious personality during a previous appearance alongside her son on "Celebrity Family Feud" that they were keen to recapture the magic of that mother-son double act. When he was approached about potentially having his mother appear on the show, Anderson revealed, "They're like, 'Do you have a problem with that?' I was like, 'No, not at all. That's one less check I'll have to write every month.'"

The duo's hilarious faux rivalry was on display when they appeared together on Entertainment Tonight. "Everybody say I'm funnier than he is," she declared. "He just get jealous and mad ..." Analyzing her appeal with the show's viewers, she pointed to one key trait. "You know why? I'm natural ..." she explained. "Ain't no acting to it, I'm real!"