From his humble beginnings in the Universal Studios mailroom (a.k.a. the executive training program), Cannon was promoted after one year to Universal Television's casting department as a trainee. There, he set a personal goal to become the first African-American casting director at Universal Studios within a year. He achieved that goal.
It was his unwavering diligence that later paved the way for Cannon to reach yet another professional milestone, becoming head of Warner Brothers television's casting department from 1978 to 1980. In so doing, Cannon became the first African-American to hold the distinction. His keen eye for talent also earned Cannon the well-deserved reputation for being an innovative and trendsetting force in the industry. Early in his career, Cannon took a chance on then fledgling young actor Bruce Willis casting him in the television series Moonlighting, which jettisoned Willis into stardom.
Under the banner of his company Reuben Cannon and Associates, Cannon has cast nearly one hundred television series, made-for-TV movies as well as motion pictures. Among those projects include THE COLOR PURPLE, which earned 11 Oscar nominations and showcased the talents of artists who would become some of our industries most distinguished stars: Danny Glover in one of his first starring roles; and Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey made their feature film debuts each earning Oscar nominations in the category of Best Supporting Actress.
Broadening his range of projects, Cannon, a Chicago native, branched out into producing motion pictures and television programs. One of his early projects was the critically acclaimed television special The Women of Brewster Place, which he not only cast, but also produced in collaboration with Oprah Winfrey who starred in the tele-film. Brewster Place marked their second project together and the two have remained business allies and close personal friends throughout the years. Cannon continued his partnership as a producer with some of the nation's most influential luminaries in their respective industries: DOWN IN THE DELTA, directed by Dr. Maya Angelou; Spike Lee on GET ON THE BUS, LOVE DON'T COST A THING starring Nick Cannon, and the box office sleeper hit WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED, based on the bestselling book by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
In the summer of 2004, Cannon began collaborating with a brilliant young playwright and actor turned director, Tyler Perry. Reuben Cannon Productions (RCP) formed a production alliance with Tyler Perry Studios (TPS) that would prove to be powerful, garnering both record-breaking box office grosses and television ratings. The feature films DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, MADEA'S FAMILY REUNION, WHY DID I GET MARRIED? and MADEA GOES TO JAIL all opened #1 at North American box office, and together with DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS, MEET THE BROWNS and THE FAMILY THAT PREYS, have collectively grossed more than $400 million.
Most recently, MADEA GOES TO JAIL debuted at Number One on the box office chart with a $41M bow, and remained at Number One for a second consecutive week with a take of $16.5M.
Reuben Cannon served as Executive Producer on the first 126 episodes of the comedy series Tyler Perry's House of Payne, which remains the #1 rated television series in African-American households.
Cannon has received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from Morehouse College. His work has also been recognized by The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (which has honored him with two Emmy nominations), the Casting Society of America, the DuSable Museum of African-American History, and the 2002 NAACP Image Awards who with Daimler/Chrysler honored Cannon with a Behind the Lens Award for his outstanding contributions in entertainment in the areas of film and television.
Read earlier biographies on this page.
Reuben Cannon Facts
|February 11, 1946 (78)
|Chicago, Illinois, USA
|Return to Witch Graveyard
|Love Don't Cost a Thing
|Down in the Delta
|Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman
|Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns
|Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself
|Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls
|Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail
|Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family