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Craig “muMs da Schemer” Grant (1968–2021), poet and “Oz” Star

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

Craig Grant, better known as “muMs da Schemer” or simply “muMs,” was a poet and actor who starred as Arnold “Poet” Jackson on the HBO series “Oz.”

Stage and screen

Grant was performing slam poetry in New York when he was featured in the 1998 documentary “SlamNation.” Around the same time, he was cast as Poet in “Oz,” where he was also able to perform his poetry over the course of the show’s six seasons. Grant later had recurring roles on the TV adaptation of “She’s Gotta Have It” as well as “Boston Legal” and “Hightown.” He was featured in several episodes of “Def Poetry Jam.” His movie credits include “Birdman,” “Side Effects,” and “Good Time.” Grant was also a member of the Off-Broadway troupe the LAByrinth Theater Company.

Grant on how he started writing

“I remember writing a poem in grade school. I painted as well. I really took to drawing. But I really started to enjoy writing in high school from writing rhymes. I was a rapper.” —from a 2020 interview with Writers Guild Initiative

He regularly collaborated with Steven Soderbergh and Spike Lee in films and TV shows.

Craig muMs Grant, who portrayed Arnold "Poet" Jackson on the acclaimed HBO drama Oz, has died. He was 52.

Grant died Wednesday, his rep Pam Ellis-Evenas of the Ellis Talent Group said. No cause of death has been determined.

At the time of his death, Grant was shooting a recurring role on the Starz series Hightown in Wilmington, North Carolina, and was set to travel to Atlanta on Monday to wrap a recurring arc on the BET streaming series All the Queen's Men.

He also had recently completed a turn in the Steven Soderbergh film No Sudden Move opposite John Hamm, Benicio del Toro and Don Cheadle. Earlier, he collaborated with the director for Side Effects (2013) and on the Cinemax series The Knick.

"We are heartbroken over the loss of one of the most genuine, caring, loving souls we have ever had the pleasure of representing," the agency said in a statement. "Craig was more than our client, he was our dear friend. We all just lost a phenomenal man."

Grant also played Cash Jackson in a recurring role on the recent Netflix series She's Gotta Have It, based on the Spike Lee film, and he appeared in an uncredited turn in Lee's BlacKkKlansman (2018).

He also appeared on Chappelle's Show, The Sopranos, Boston Legal, Law & Order, Nurse Jackie, NCIS: New Orleans, Luke Cage (as Squabbles), Blue Bloods and City on a Hill and in films including Steve Buscemi's Interview (2007), the Safdie brothers' Good Time (2017) and Hover (2018).

Grant appeared as Poet, a heroin addict imprisoned for armed robbery and attempted murder, on 49 episodes across all six seasons (1997-03) of Oz.

Born and raised in New York City, Grant attended Mount St. Michael Academy High School in the Bronx. He began his career as part of the critically acclaimed Nuyorican Poetry Slam team and was featured in the 1998 documentary SlamNation and on HBO's Def Poetry Jam series.

Grant joined the LAByrinth Theater Company alongside the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who once referred to Craig's writing as "Shakespearean" in its complexity and richness.

LABryinth staged his autobiographical one-man show A Sucker Emcee, which detailed his coming of age in the Bronx, and Craig was in talks with the National Black Theatre and The Public to stage it in open-air venues this summer, his agency said.


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