Shemar Moore was born in Oakland, the son of Marilyn Wilson, now a business consultant born in Roxbury, Massachusetts of Irish and French-Canadian descent, and Sherrod Moore, an African American.
As a child, he spent the first three years of his life in Denmark until his parents divorced. His mother only spoke Danish to him as a child, thus his first language is Danish. After the divorce his mother, who has a degree in mathematics, transferred teaching jobs to Bahrain, and enrolled him in a British private school just so he could learn to speak English, knowing that eventually she would want them to return to the U.S. During their time overseas, they traveled and visited places such as Germany, London, Pakistan, The Virgin Islands, Ghana, and Greece.
Moore lived for a short time in his mother's hometown of Boston when they returned to the States, before becoming established in Chico, California, where his mother worked at a clinic, and later moving to Palo Alto. There he attended Henry M. Gunn High School, and he was active in many sports such as baseball, football and soccer. Professional baseball teams, Baltimore and Boston more prominently, scouted the young pitcher, who could throw a fast ball at an amazing 94 mph. His mother didn't like it, knowing that any injury would leave him out of the playing field and without a backup life plan.
After graduating in 1988, with a partial baseball scholarship, he went to Santa Clara University in Northern California, where he majored in Communications and minored in Theater Arts, and played four years of Division One Varsity Baseball. He was a pitcher, and outfielder, with enough talent to seize the attention of Oakland A's star Dave Stewart, who taught him to throw the forkball, and fueled his dream to became a professional baseball player. When a lesion affected his performance on the mound, Moore turned his attention to his other dream, acting.
He did some modeling during his college years with the City Modeling Agency to help with expenses. Following graduation, Moore moved to New York City, where he was signed to DNA Model Management, and enjoyed a successful stint as a print and runway fashion model, posing for ads in issues of Gentleman's Quarterly (GQ), Mademoiselle, and fashion layouts for major department stores. He also appeared in commercials for Levi's Jeans, McDonalds, Miller Beer, and Colter Clothes. All the way, he was waiting for his big acting break.
Said acting break came when he was spotted by an agent who recommended him to audition for The Young and the Restless; the powers that be had seen some of his photos, at a time where soap operas were expanding the roles of black cast members. Competing against some 370 other young actors, he was selected for the role of photographer Malcom Winters. Even lacking experience he was smart enough to know he needed additional training, so he hired a speech coach and took acting classes being determined to get better at his craft. The result was a Daytime Emmy in 2000, after two nominations in 1996 and 1997, and several NAACP Image Awards.
In between, he got to expand his résumé with roles in feature films like Butter, Motives, The Brothers, The Seat Filler, and the surprise hit Diary of a Mad Black Woman; and in TV, the mini-series Scott Turow's Reversible Errors, How to Marry a Billionaire, and the cult classic Birds of Prey as Detective Jesse Reese.
Moore was featured in Toni Braxton's music video How Many Ways in 1994. He was the host of the syndicated version of TV's longest running dance show Soul Train from 2000 until 2003, and in 2001 made his theatrical debut in the national tour of the gospel musical The Fabric of a Man.
Criminal Minds was the seventh pilot in which Moore was cast. Since 2005 and until 2016 he has played FBI profiler Derek Morgan on the prime time hit show. Shemar Moore also returned to Criminal Minds as a guest star during the Season 12 finale Red Light and the 5th episode of Season 13 Lucky Strikes in 2017.
In a cause close to his heart, Shemar Moore has given his time and celebrity to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. His mother suffers from MS, and for the past three years, he has participated in the Southern California Bike MS Ride, riding his bike 100 miles with a team of cast mates and crew from Criminal Minds. This work on behalf of the MS Society has helped increase public awareness of the disease and raise funds for research.
- Criminal Minds - 252 episodes (2005-2017) TV episodes - Derek Morgan
- S.W.A.T. (2017-present) - 16 episodes - Sgt. Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson
- The Bounce Back (2016) - Matthew Taylor
- Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016) - Cyborg (voice)
- Kill Me, Deadly (2015) - Bill the Piano Player
- Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015) - Cyborg (voice)
- The Young and the Restless - 418 episodes (1994-2014) TV episodes - Malcolm Winters
- Justice League: War (2014) - Cyborg (voice)
- Motives 2 (2007) - Emory Simms
- The Making of 'Diary' (2005)
- Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005) - Orlando
- Greener (2004) - Ricky Johnson
- The Seat Filler (2004) - Trent
- Reversible Errors (2004) - Collins Farwell
- Half & Half - The Big Good Help Is Hard to Find Episode (2004) TV episode - Amani Love
- Motives (2004) - Emery Simms
- Birds of Prey - 14 episodes (2002-2003) TV episodes - Jesse Reese
- Chasing Alice (2003)
- The Brothers (2001) - Terry White
- How to Marry a Billionaire: A Christmas Tale (2000) - Jason Hunt
- Box Marley (2000)
- Malcolm & Eddie - Won't Power (1999) TV episode - Ty
- For Your Love - Baby Boom (1999) TV episode - Dakota Collins
- Moesha - Had to Be You (1999) TV episode - Earl Thomas
- Mama Flora's Family (1998) - Lincoln Fleming
- Chicago Hope - Waging Bull (1998) TV episode - Bobby Barrett
- Butter (1998) - Freddy Roland
- Hav Plenty (1997) - Chris
- Arli$$ - How to Be a Good Listener (1997) TV episode - Sammy Stilton
- The Jamie Foxx Show - Kiss & Tell (1996) TV episode - Elister
- Living Single - The Last Temptation (1995) TV episode - Jon Marc
- His first name contains the first three letters of both his parents' first names: Sherrod and Marylin.
- In his own words about his modeling career I was never a supermodel on the runways of New York City. It was a job-to-job struggle, getting things like the back-to-school specials for Mervyns. I was always photographed alone because I was way bigger than the other models. And I couldn't even fit into the jeans, so they'd have to cut the back of the jeans with scissors just so they would look loose.
- In his own words about his acting career I treat my career like school. The soap opera days were like high school. I got my diploma and graduated. Now I'm in college and hopefully I'll go to grad school (feature films) and catch the bus with Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith and the others.
- In one episode of Criminal Minds, he was shown watching The Young and the Restless with Rossi after breaking into fellow agent Reid's hotel room.
- He indicated his reluctance at approaching 40 years of age during an interview in The Ellen DeGeneres Show; she gave him personalized license plates reading 40NHOT (40 and Hot).
- He was arrested on June 1, 2007 after 1AM for exceeding the speed limit and suspicion of DUI when he was caught speeding on Santa Monica Boulevard. Bail was set at $5,000. On June 22 he took plead "no-contest" to a misdemeanor charge of exhibition of speed. The DUI charges were dropped, but he agreed to pay the DUI fine of $1,400 and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and 3 years probation.
- On August 1, 2009 he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle and his leg was broken. His leg was put in a walking cast to hide the injury. Some of the action scenes with Morgan had to be reduced while he recovered from the injury.