Comedian and actor Dave Chappelle knows how to get a laugh. He parlayed his groundbreaking brand of sketch comedy into the wildly popular Comedy Central program, "The Dave Chappelle Show," which debuted in 2003. Then Chappelle, whose comedic star was on a meteoric rise, took a sudden hiatus in 2005 from Season Three of the show. He disappeared and then turned up in South Africa. Why would the comedian walk away from a $50 million contract and retreat to relative seclusion with an old friend named Salim? To reflect on his Muslim faith, to be "well balanced" and to "check my intentions," Chappelle told Time Magazine in 2005.
Chappelle has always charted his Hollywood career on his own terms. His film debut came by way of a small role in Mel Brook's comedy "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." The actor later was offered the star-making role of Bubba in "Forrest Gump," which he regrettably turned down. A steady stream of small TV and film roles finally landed Chappelle his breakthrough show on Comedy Central. But the actor, who reportedly converted to Islam in 1998, walked away from it all in 2005. The reason for his choice is still being debated, but it doesn't seem to bother Chappelle, who has since maintained a low profile at his residence in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Said Chappelle, "Turns out you don't need $50 million to live around these parts, just a nice smile and a kind way about you."
Mara Brock Akil»