James McDaniel attended the University of Pennsylvania, but left to work in theatre, film and television, in New York City. He earned a coveted spot in A Soldiers Play, but was not cast in the movie which followed. Coincidentally, he both starred in the off and broadway productions of Six Degrees of Separation, but lost out again - in the movie version, his character was portrayed by Will Smith. Guest starring roles soon followed in numerous television series, and movies such as Malcolm X. Prior to joining the cast of Detroit 1-8-7, Mr. McDaniel was best known as Lt. Arthur Fancy on NYPD Blue.