Born in Oakland, California, Shemar lived the first three years of his life with his family in Denmark and Bahrain. His mother then traveled with him over the next few years to London, Pakistan, The Virgin Islands, Ghana and Greece. Upon returning to the United States at the age of six, they moved around the country from Boston all the way to Chico, California, and finally settled in Palo Alto where he went to high school. He attended Santa Clara University, where he majored in Communications and played varsity baseball.
After several years working as a catalogue model during and after college, Shemar had his initial training in television on the CBS series THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. A scout from the show saw Shemar in an ad in GQ magazine, which led to an audition and him landing the role of “Malcolm Winters” over hundreds of other actors. He played the role for eight years, winning a Daytime Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and two nominations for Outstanding Younger Leading Actor in a Drama Series, as well as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Shemar also won seven NAACP Image Awards for his role on the show.
Some of his other television credits include the WB series BIRDS OF PREY, the CBS telefilm REVERSIBLE ERRORS opposite William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman, Monica Potter and Tom Selleck, and hosting the long running show SOUL TRAIN for four years.
Shemar solidified himself as an onscreen heartthrob in the hysterical yet poignant Tyler Perry film, DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, where he gave a heartwarming performance as the love interest and “ideal man.” His other film credits include the action thriller BUTTER starring opposite Nia Long and Terrance Howard, and THE BROTHERS staring DL Hughley, Gabrielle Union, and Tatyana Ali.
In 1998 Shemar’s mother, Marilyn Wilson, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Since then, he has been committed to raising awareness about the disease and is a spokesperson for the National MS Society, as well as participating in Bike MS for the last seven years along with his CRIMINAL MINDS cast mates.