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The Transformation Of Eamonn Walker From Childhood To Chicago Fire

Anyone who's seen a single episode of "Chicago Fire" knows who Eamonn Walker is. Walker has been portraying Deputy District Chief Wallace Boden since 2012. He has appeared in hundreds of episodes of "Chicago Fire," and is one of the key elements that keeps people coming back to the series year after year.

Eagle-eyed viewers might have recognized Walker on his very first episode of "Chicago Fire." By that point in his career he'd already established himself as an incredibly talented actor capable of tackling a wide range of material. From classic Shakespeare stage productions to TV shows like HBO's "Oz," Walker has tried his hand at just about everything.

While he's been building his acting career, Walker has also found time to focus on family. He grew up in a large family that helped him create a unique sense of identity, and he's raised his own kids with his wife Sandra. Through it all Walker has traveled between Britain, the United States, and Trinidad to keep his most important connections strong.

Walker has completely transformed from his childhood in London to his life as one of the stars of "Chicago Fire." Let's take a look at how he has changed over the years.

He's lived in multiple countries all his life

Eamonn Walker has lived in Britain all his life, but by no means has he stayed there. Walker grew up alongside three siblings — a brother and two sisters — and he found himself traveling between countries at an early age. When he was just nine years old, Walker spent six months in Trinidad living with his aunt and extended family. The trip had such a profound impact on him that he continued traveling to Trinidad as an adult, taking time away from his acting career to make the trip whenever possible.

International travel became an even bigger part of Walker's life after he made his screen debut in 1985. "As an actor I go where the work is," he told The Trinidad Express in 2001. As a result, he's spent decades traveling back and forth between Britain and the United States. The veteran actor is in his 60s now, but he shows no signs of slowing down. "Chicago Fire" is shot on location, which keeps him in the States for a good chunk of the year.

He struggled with identity when he was younger

Eamonn Walker's heritage has always been an important part of his life. His mother is from Trinidad, and Walker once told The Trinidad Express , "I identify very much with my Trinidadian culture." Walker's cultural identity is something that he celebrates, but his relationship with it wasn't always so simple.

Walker once told Essence that he had an "identity crisis" in his teens that forced him to reconcile the different cultural influences in his background. Growing up, Walker spoke with a Caribbean accent that he got from his mother, but that began to change when he started going to school. "[I] quickly received my first taste of discrimination when kids made fun of me and made my life pretty miserable," he revealed. "So I learned to speak like everyone else with a North London accent."

He found the solution to his identity crisis in other people. "In every fiber of my being, knowing my people has always been important to me," he said. His connection with his mother's side of the family in Trinidad helped him maintain pride in his heritage even in the face of bullies, and years later, as an adult, he had the opportunity to finally connect with his father's side of the family in Grenada. "It was beautiful," he said.

He opened up to acting when he was nine years old

Like superheroes, every actor has an origin story. Eamonn Walker's passion for acting began with the film "In the Heat of the Night." Walker told FabTV that he watched Sidney Poitier's performance in the film when he was nine years old, and it changed the course of his life forever. "It woke me up as a young boy, and so I wanted to be an actor," he said. "[It] made me recognize the power of the medium." Walker had discovered a way to make art while also taking a stance on important issues.

Decades later, Walker's acting journey came full circle when he had the chance to meet his childhood hero in person. At the time, Walker was performing in a Broadway production of "Julius Caesar," and he was leaving the theater after a performance when he came across Poitier, who'd just seen the show. "I walked out after a performance and when I opened the door he was standing there," he told Essence. "I stopped dead in my tracks and [I] keep looking at him in disbelief. I was a gibbering idiot." It goes to show that even a star can be starstruck, especially when they're meeting one of their idols.

He's a trained dancer

As interested as he was in acting, Eamonn Walker almost pursued a different career. When he enrolled at the University of North London, he began studying social work. It didn't take long for Walker to change his focus, but he didn't switch to acting right away. Instead, Walker studied dance, and he went on to become a part of the Explosive Dance Theatre Company in London. Had everything gone according to plan, Walker might have spent his years as a professional dancer, but that's not how things panned out. "An abscess in my calf muscles derailed my dancing career, and I started doing small acting parts," Walker told The Trinidad Express.

All that dance experience has served him well in the years since — he still uses music and dance to flesh out his characters. "In terms of movement, I try and change everything about the character," Walker told the Artisan News Service. "And how you get to that place is with music because that's how you can explore movement and not feel stupid. So, I use music all the time when I'm building a character." Dance may not be Walker's main interest any more, but it will always be part of his process.

He performed Shakespeare with Denzel Washington

Many people know Eamonn Walker from his TV appearances in shows like "Oz" and "Chicago Fire," but television is only a small part of his impressive career. He's spent plenty of time in the theater, performing in renowned stage productions of various plays. Walker's debut acting role was in a 1983 production of the play "Labelled With Love," and even though he's made a name for himself on the small screen, the stage has never been far from Walker's life.

In 2005 Walker had the opportunity to fulfill every stage actor's dream by performing on Broadway. He played Marc Antony in a production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" that was directed by Daniel Sullivan. It wasn't just the location and dramatic material that made the experience impactful for Walker — the cast included Denzel Washington in the role of Brutus, which made Walker's Broadway debut even more memorable. It wouldn't be the last time Walker starred in a Shakespeare production worth remembering.

He was the first Black actor to play Othello at the Globe Theatre

Eamonn Walker followed up his turn as Marc Antony with an even bigger role just two years later. He starred as Othello in a 2007 production of Shakespeare's famed play that was actually staged at the very same Globe Theatre where The Bard once debuted his material. The production got a warm reception, with one reviewer praising Walker's depiction of Othello's epileptic episodes as being "terrifyingly realistic" and writing that Walker "is at his best when the character is angry, having succumbed to that green-eyed monster, jealousy."

Landing the lead role wasn't just a big deal for Walker's career, it was also a truly historical event. In a 2008 appearance on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," Walker explained that in the 400 year history of the Globe, Othello had always been played by a white actor in blackface. Walker's performance finally put an end to that sorry tradition and opened the door for more inclusive productions of Shakespeare's classics.

The famous people that influenced Eamonn Walker

Eamonn Walker told FabTV that when he looks back at his biggest influences, it's not always actors that he sees. "The huge things that were an influence to me were people like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, who weren't entertainers, but they helped me as a young man find myself and the thinking that I wanted," he said. "People like Muhammad Ali and what Muhammad Ali did when he gave up his belts and didn't come fight in Vietnam. These huge things influenced me." Walker wanted to find a way to make the world a better place, no matter what career he eventually chose.

Walker says that when he watched "In the Heat of the Night" as a young man, he was as drawn to the film's approach to taking on social issues as he was to Sidney Poitier's acting. He's always looking for how to take a similar approach in his own work. "Very early on in my career I had to start thinking to myself, 'I need to have a comment on what's being written about and the point of view, and I can't do it just because it's funny,'" he said. Part of why Walker has stuck with "Chicago Fire" for so many years is because he's able to ask questions and have difficult conversations with the show's writers and cast members.

He's a proud father of three

For the majority of Eamonn Walker's acting career, he's had to balance his professional life with being a father. Walker and his wife have three children, and it hasn't always been easy finding the time to be a family together, especially when Walker's job took him out of the country. "I try to fly them out as much as I can," he told The Trinidad Express while filming for "Oz" in 2001, "but it isn't easy."

As the kids got older, it became a little easier for Walker to find the perfect mix of work and home life. Of course, it also helped that his priorities as a father started to naturally change as well. Walker told Craig Ferguson back in 2008, "I listen to them now. I learn from them. They're bigger than me." Now that the kids are all grown up, Walker has started to spend more time thinking about the legacy that he'll someday leave behind. He told Essence that now all he wants is to "leave my imprint so that my son can say proudly, 'That's my dad!'"

He's been with his wife for decades

The exact dates are unknown, but Eamonn and Sandra Walker have reportedly been together for over 30 years. By showbusiness standards, their relationship is as old as time, and what makes it even more unusual is that Eamonn is the only one of the two involved in acting — Sandra is a novelist by trade. According to Hello Magazine, Eamonn and Sandra were together for more than 20 years before they finally decided to tie the knot.

The Walkers also buck typical celebrity trends by keeping their personal lives to themselves. Their wedding wasn't a big public affair, and they haven't even announced their anniversary date to the public. "I'm quite happy with my anonymity," Walker once told Essence, and it would appear that his wife shares that opinion. They've lived in multiple countries and raised children together, and they've managed to do it on their own terms instead of playing their lives out in the spotlight.

The Chicago Fire team is like a second family

It would be hard to work on any show for years on end without making a few friends. Eamonn Walker has made more than a few during his time on "Chicago Fire." He's particularly close with his co-star David Eigenberg, and their real-life friendship helps to feed their onscreen chemistry. While Walker and Eigenberg might be a particularly memorable duo, Walker has grown close with every member of the "Chicago Fire" team.

Walker has been part of "Chicago Fire" since the show first began back in 2012. He's appeared in over 200 episodes since then, and there's no sign that he'll be stopping anytime soon. The ethos of the show perfectly demonstrates the relationships that get formed on set. Walker summed it up simply enough when he told FabTV: "It's the color of your heart that matters in this house, not the color of your skin. Because we are a family. We will run into a building together, and we are prepared to die together." The cast and crew have become a true second family for Walker, one that he will always cherish.