Michael-Leon Wooley

Michael-Leon Wooley
Born (1971-03-29) March 29, 1971
Fairfax, Virginia
Other names M.L. Wooley, Michael Leon Wooley
Occupation Actor, singer, activist, voice actor
Years active 1992present

Michael-Leon Wooley (born March 29, 1971) is an American television, film, voice and theatre actor, singer and activist. Wooley lends his voice to Louis the Alligator in Disney's Oscar nominated animated feature film, The Princess and the Frog. Wooley played Judge Grady on the radio station WKTT in Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV.

Early life

Wooley was born in Fairfax, Virginia to George and Winnie Wooley. He has a twin brother, Marcus-Leon, and a younger brother, George Jr.. He grew up in Bowie, Maryland. Wooley began playing the piano at age five and initially wanted to be a classical concert pianist. However, after participating in a high-school production of Oklahoma! he became interested in the theatre and the dramatic arts.

At age sixteen he was given the opportunity to study piano at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. but turned it down to instead focus on acting and singing. At age eighteen Wooley was awarded a full scholarship to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City, one of 21 scholarships granted in a nationwide competition. He studied at AMDA for a year before embarking on his own to pursue an acting career.

Wooley auditioned 107 times before landing his first role in the national tour of Purlie,[1] making three-hundred dollars a week. After the national tour of Purlie Wooley returned to New York and supported himself by playing in piano bars and occasionally singing in subway stations as well as working as a singing waiter on the Spirit of New York,[2] a dinner cruise ship that circles Manhattan.



In 1992 Wooley made his Broadway debut as an understudy (Big Moe) in the Clarke Peters' musical, Five Guys Named Moe.[3] After Five Guys Named Moe he embarked on national tours with The Pointer Sisters in Ain't Misbehavin'[4] and The Wiz with Stephanie Mills.

Wooley returned to Broadway in 2000 as Olin Britt[5] in the Broadway revival of The Music Man, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman.[6]

Wooley's most recent Broadway role was as the voice of the man-eating plant, Audrey II, in the 2003 revival of the musical Little Shop of Horrors[7] at the Virginia Theatre (renamed the August Wilson Theatre in 2005). Though his role was behind-the-scenes, theater critics took notice. Ben Brantley of the New York Times wrote Wooley had a "soulful bass voice"[8] and Clive Barnes of the New York Post said that Wooley as the "doom-struck voice of Audrey II" rounded out "one of the best casts on Broadway"[9]

Under the baton of Skitch Henderson, Wooley made his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops as one of the "New Faces of 2004" along with other Broadway notables such as John Tartaglia and Stephanie D'Abruzzo. The event was hosted by famed New York Post gossip columnist Liz Smith.[10]

Stage Productions (Listed Alphabetically/Not Exhaustive)
Show Role Addtl. info
American Buffalo (Broadway) Donnie Dubrow Understudy for Cedric the Entertainer
A Soldier's Play (National Tour) C.J. Memphis
Ain't Misbehavin' (National Tour) Ken Featuring The Pointer Sisters
At Least It's Pink (off-Broadway) Simon Michael Patrick King, director
Five Guys Named Moe (Broadway) Big Moe Understudy
Floyd Collins (Regional) Ed Bishop
Little Shop of Horrors (Broadway) Voice of Audrey II, the plant
New Faces of 2004 Featured Artist Carnegie Hall debut
Purlie (National Tour) Chorus
The Music Man (Broadway) Olin Britt Susan Stroman, director and choreographer
The Wiz (National Tour) Uncle Henry Starring Stephanie Mills
Up In The Air (The Kennedy Center) Bull Frog


Wooley recently lent his voice for Disney's Oscar-nominated animated feature film The Princess and the Frog, as Louis, a high-strung, jazz-singing, trumpet-playing alligator.

Wooley played Tiny Joe Dixon in the 2006 motion picture, Dreamgirls, and sang the solo "Takin' The Long Way Home",[11] the third song on the movie soundtrack.

Other film credits include minor roles in Ghost Town, Good Sharma and My Father's Will.

Year Film Role Notes
2006 Dreamgirls Tiny Joe Dixon Singing "Takin' the Long Way Home"
2008 My Father's Will Subway Attendant
Good Sharma Big Thug
Ghost Town Medical Attorney
2009 The Princess and the Frog Louis the Alligator Singing "When We're Human"
2012 Premium Rush NYPD Tow Truck Driver
2015 Hotel Transylvania 2 Additional Voices

Television and video games

Wooley's voice has been behind many television advertising campaigns for companies such as (but not limited to): Reebok, General Motors, McDonald's, Dairy Queen, K-Mart and the Oxygen Network. Wooley is also the voice of the demon boss, Twayne, on Comedy Central's Ugly Americans.[12]

He has made numerous guest appearances on television series such as Cosby,[13][14] Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,[15] The Knights of Prosperity,[16] Now & Again, Rescue Me[17] and The Rosie O'Donnell Show. He also was a guest singer on The Penguins of Madagascar in "The Falcon and the Snow Job" when Skipper and Kitka are being together. He recently voiced the DC Comics villains Darkseid and Kalibak on the animated series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

He also was cast as the latest voice for Tobias Whale in the new Batman series, Beware the Batman. In 2014, he voiced Chill Bill from Sanjay and Craig as well as Master Lun in Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. In 2015, Wooley was a guest voice on Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero.

He voices Acorn and Achaka in the video game King's Quest.

He voices Judge Grady radio station WKTT in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV.

Web series

In 2012 he voiced Impossibear from Pendleton Ward's Bravest Warriors which airs on Frederator's YouTube funded channel Cartoon Hangover.[18]

Personal life

Jon-Marc McDonald, a close friend and sometimes-publicist for Wooley, confirmed on his website that Wooley performed We Have To Change at a fundraiser for Barack Obama in New York City on August 11, 2008. The song was specifically written for the fundraiser by Bill Russell and Henry Krieger.[19][20]


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