In his spare time, James likes to play golf, go bowling, and listen to jazz music.
In 1980, James met his wife while they were both struggling actors on the New York Theater scene. Their first date was a spring stroll in Central Park.
Awards & Nominations:
• 1999 (N) - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Awards, for The X-Files, shared with castmates
• 2006 (N) - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Awards, for Grey's Anatomy, shared with castmates
• 2006 (N) - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Image Awards, for Grey's Anatomy
• 2007 (W) - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Awards, for Grey's Anatomy, shared with castmates
• 2007 (N) - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Image Awards, for Grey's Anatomy
• 2008 (N) - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Image Awards, for Grey's Anatomy
• 2008 (N) - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Awards, for Grey's Anatomy, shared with castmates
• 2009 (N) - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Image Awards, for Grey's Anatomy
James has been married to Gina Taylor-Pickens since May 27, 1984. They live in San Fernando Valley, California with their son Carl Tharps and daughter Gavyn, both of whom are also involved in the entertainment business.
Among James' hobbies are roping cattle and horseback riding. He used to own an American Quarter Horse named Smokey. James is active in the United States Team Roping Championship and competes in US roping competitions.
In June 2009, James teamed up with the American Quarter Horse Association and Fort Dodge Animal Health in its "Keeping Horses Healthy" public awareness campaign. Its aim is to educate horse owners like him on behavior, nutrition, risks, and other health issues involving horses.
Before James became an actor, he wanted to be an illustrator or cartoonist.
In 2000, James appeared in a television commercial for Wingspan.com.
James is 6' (1.83 m) tall.
Film and TV Movie Credits:
• Semper Fi (2001) as Mr. Maddox
• Traffic (2000) as Prosecutor Ben Williams
• A Slight Case of Murder (1999) as Det. Larry Gray
• Little Girl Fly Away (1998) as Detective Walter Engelhart
• Bulworth (1998) as Uncle David
• The Uninvited (1996)
• Power 98 (1996) as Det. Wilkinson
• Bloodhounds (1996) as Agent John DeGraf
• Nixon (1995) (as James Pickens) as Black Orator
• Trial by Fire (1995)
• Sharon's Secret (1995) as Ashmore
• Lily in Winter (1994) as Chick
• A Child's Cry for Help (1994) as Brad Currie
• Sodbusters (1994) as Isaac
• Hostile Intentions (1994) as Capt. Connor
• Exclusive (1992) as Jonathan Heglin
• Hotshot (1987)
In 2009, James and his wife founded the James Pickens, Jr. Foundation which aims to raise the quality of life for various communities by aiding in the areas of education, arts and humanities, health care, and other human services.
In May 2009, James produced, directed, and starred in a theatre production of Otis Sallid's Gospel! Gospel! Gospel! at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles.
In August 2008, Pickens received Bowling Green State University's Distinguished Alumnus Award during the school's summer commencement ceremonies, where he was also chosen to give the keynote address to more than 1,200 graduates.
Once a member of the Circle Rep/Steppenwolf Theatre Company, he portrayed the role of Rake in Balm in Gilead at the Circle Rep Theatre in New York City in 1984.
He has a sister, Marie Walker, and a brother, Marlin Pickens.
In 2004, James lent his voice for the character of Alvin Kersh in the video game The X Files: Resist or Serve.
James: (on his favorite hobby, cattle roping) It's a great escape from the craziness of Hollywood. It's a nice therapy for me. Even when I don't rope, just getting my horse outside is a great way to collect myself and be out in nature.
James: (after the success of "Grey's Anatomy") This thing has gone above and beyond what I believe anyone thought it would. The downside of that -- if there is one -- is, you know, you come into 20 million households every night, now, walking down the street has a different flavour to it. Your privacy is not so private anymore. But it kind of goes with the territory.
James: (on his marriage) We've had struggles like any married couple would, but we just work through those things.
James: (on the departure of Isaiah Washington from "Grey's Anatomy") I miss his character. It was one of the more fascinating ones. And I miss having him around. He brought an energy and a dynamism not many actors could.
James: (advice to aspiring Black actors) They have to follow their hearts. They have to understand that it is one of the toughest businesses that you can get into... It's about just staying in there, not getting frustrated and understanding that it's not personal when you're not given a particular job and that you have to stay focused and try to make your dream come true. That's about all you can do.
James: I never intended on being an actor, it was the furthest thing from my mind. I have a degree in art, I was an artist originally. I didn't know what I really wanted to do with that, I didn't want to change.
James: Theater is my first love. You get an immediate response. It's always fresh. You come back the next day of the performance and do it again. With theater, I think the ultimate thing is that you feel like you have a little more control, as far as an artist is concerned.
James: (on how he keeps his life balanced) I need more than one of me. I need about five of me. I have an incredible wife who is just a whirlwind. She really is the heart behind all of this stuff. I'm just kind of the face on the page but she's the real backbone. And we have great folks working with us.
James: Acting for me has been an incredible journey and it has allowed me to travel the places I probably never would have traveled to otherwise. I've met some incredible, interesting people and have worked with some of the most talented artists in this business.
James: I think of myself as somebody who loves the cowboy way of life. Being a cowboy is a whole other deal. I have all the respect in the world for those guys.
James: (on when a fellow student asked him to audition for his play) He walked over and introduced himself and said 'you look like an actor, and would you want to audition? After kind of going back and forth, I said why not? One thing led to another, and the rest is history.