He directed the 2001 TV movie, Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story for which Cole won the NAACP Image Award as Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special.
Townsend also directed two television movies in 20 respectively, Carmen: A Hip Hopera and 10,000 Black Men Named George.
During a reading of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex at school, Robert captured the attention of Chicago’s X Bag Theatre, The Experimental Black Actors Guild.
He launched his comedy career at The Improvisation, a renowned comedy club.
Townsend was Programming Director at the Black Family Channel, but the network folded in 2007.
Townsend created The Robert Townsend Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to introduce and help new unsigned filmmakers.
In 1974, Townsend auditioned for parts at Chicago's Experimental Black Actors' Guild and performed in local plays studying at the famed Second City comedy workshop for improvisation.
Townsend enrolled at Illinois State University, studied a year and later moved to New York to study at the Negro Ensemble Company.
Townsend's mother believed that he should complete his college education, but he felt that college took time away from his passion for acting, and he soon dropped out of school to pursue his acting career full-time.
He wrote, directed and produced Hollywood Shuffle, a satire based on the hardships and obstacles that black actors undergo in film industry.
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He created and produced two television variety shows—the Cable ACE award–winning Robert Townsend and His Partners in Crime for HBO, and the Fox Television variety show Townsend Television (1993).