Sharif Atkins is an American actor best known for his role as Dr. Michael Gallant in the television medical drama series ER, from 2001-2006.
Born in Pittsburgh, Atkins moved with his family to Chicago when he was 6 years old. His father, a chief public defender, and mother, a museum executive, still reside there; his sister, Makeba Atkins, a mechanical engineer, now lives in Tucson, Arizona.
While he remembers his first acting role as a strawberry in a fourth-grade play, he didn’t feel any special commitment to the arts until he participated in a summer theatre arts program at nearby Northwestern University.
Atkins later obtained his bachelor of science degree in speech at the prestigious private university in 1997. He remained in Chicago and worked in small stage productions. He also appeared on the locally filmed series Early Edition, and in the feature film Light It Up.
After moving to Los Angeles, where he crashed on a friend’s couch, Atkins found an agent and began working, landing guest-starring roles on That’s Life, The District, and Arliss.
His big break came, however, when he was cast in The Big Time, a two-hour pilot for ER executive producer John Wells. Sufficiently impressed with the young actor, Wells offered him the new role of Gallant over an arc of episodes early in the 2001-02 season.
Atkins left ER after the 2003-2004 season. In 2004, he went on to star in the short-lived police drama Hawaii as former Chicago Police Department Detective John Declan, who transferred to an elite crime unit of the Honolulu Police Department.
Atkins continued to make guest appearances in both the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons of ER, with his character returning on leave from duty in Iraq as a U.S. Army physician. His character was killed in Iraq at the end of the 2005-06 season.
Atkins also portrays the recurring character Gary Navarro in the acclaimed series The 4400. Navarro has the supernatural ability of a human empath.
Atkins resides in Los Angeles.