Initially rising to fame thanks to his skillful rhymes and savvy business skills, rapper-turned-actor Sean Combs surprised audiences who may have doubted his dramatic abilities by turning in a moving and unforgettable appearance as a death-row inmate whose wife seeks solace in the arms of the man who executed him in Marc Foster's acclaimed 2001 drama Monster's Ball. Though subsequent roles in the 2003 musical comedy Death of a Dynasty and the 2004 made-for-television drama Love in Vain give testament that Combs' Hollywood aspirations are still very much in tact, he continues to hold on to his status as one of hip-hop's most powerful players thanks to a series of hit albums and collaborations, as well as a successful clothing line which bears his namesake. Born to a working class couple in Harlem, NY, the murder of Combs' father when the future superstar was a mere two years old prompted his mother to relocate to Mount Vernon to provide a safer environment for young Sean and his sister, Keisha.
Combs' skills for paying the bills was evident early on when the entrepreneurial youngster landed a paper route at 12, and not long after that the aspiring businessman was receiving his higher education at the esteemed Howard University. An internship at Uptown Entertainment found Combs' connections expanding and real-world experience growing, with Combs achieving the status of director of A&R for the company by the age of just nineteen. In the years that followed, Combs would not only shape the careers of such popular artists as Mary J. Blige and Jodeci, but also build a successful career as a recording artist himself with such albums as his debut No Way Out and the follow-up Forever. Combs' performance in Monster's Ball opposite Halle Berry may have been the first feature performance that brought him widespread recognition in film, though to that point, the multifaceted rapper had made numerous cameos and personal appearances on multiple talk shows and awards programs.
Although he maintained a successful music career, he also wanted to make it as an actor. To that end, he appeared in the sequel to Carlito's Way and earned positive reviews for his work in a 2008 version of A Raisin in the Sun. In 2010 he had an excellent supporting turn in the comedy Get Him to the Greek and spoofed himself in I'm Still Here. He also executive produced the high-school football documentary Undefeated which won the Oscar for best Documentary Feature.