Gbenga Akinnagbe (born December 12, 1978) is an American actor. He stars in the fifth season of The Wire as Chris Partlow. He initially portrayed the character as a recurring guest star beginning with the show's third season. Akinnagbe also had an uncredited background role as a court bailiff in the series pilot.
Born in Washington, D.C. to Nigerian parents and raised in Montgomery County, MD, Akinnagbe was in and out of trouble as a youth. He is the second oldest of six children, one older sister and four younger brothers. It wasn’t until he joined the wrestling team in his junior year of high school that he gained focus in his life. He attended Colonel Zadok A. Magruder High School in Rockville, Maryland. Gbenga attended Bucknell University on a wrestling scholarship and majored in Political Science and English. He was a star wrestler in college and a champion all-state and all-conference competitor in high school.
After graduating, his next move was working at the Corporation for National Service, the federal agency in Washington D.C. that administers Americorps and other volunteer programs. A year later, while sitting in his cubicle at work, Gbenga decided that he wanted to break from the monotony of a standard 9 to 5 job and learn about acting.
He bought books and deeply researched his future profession. After attending many auditions, Gbenga earned a role at the Shakespeare Theater in D.C., and later worked his way into various productions in the area, performing for crowds at the prestigious Kennedy Theater and Shakespeare in the Park. While taking acting classes in New Jersey, Gbenga was invited to audition for a recurring role on The Wire. He earned the part of Chris Partlow for the series. He also played "Yinka" in BarberShop: The Series. In the summer of 2006, Gbenga performed the role of "Zim" in the NYC Fringe Festival's "Outstanding Play" award-winning production of "Modern Missionary". In 2007, Gbenga appeared in the film The Savages with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Laura Linney, and Philip Bosco.