Between seasons of Sons of Anarchy, Barclay returned to directing music videos: helming LL Cool J's "Take It". Also, Barclay is currently developing a feature film biopic about the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan starring Viola Davis, which he will direct and produce.
Barclay was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois. He attended La Lumiere School, a private college preparatory boarding school in La Porte, Indiana. On scholarship, he was one of the first African-Americans to attend the school. Barclay then went on to Harvard College, where he was extremely active in student musical theatre productions and the a cappella singing group the Harvard Krokodiloes. During his four years there, he wrote 16 musicals, including the music for two of the annual Hasty Pudding shows. Barclay attended both the La Lumiere School and Harvard with John Roberts, now the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His Harvard roommate was novelist Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha.
Reputation in the Entertainment Industry
During his three decades as a director, Barclay has developed a strong reputation as a go-to director capable of working adeptly in multiple genres - described in a June 2011 article in Variety as a "highly adaptive force with the ability to control both TV detectives and scene-stealing gleesters". The same article ranked Barclay among the "Ten TV Directors Who Leave Their Mark."
Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter stated in an interview with The Star-Ledger that it wasn't until Paris came on board to direct that the show found its "groove", observing: "We had all those glitches in those first two or three episodes [...] We had (Paris) come in [...] and we all just started trusting what we were doing here."
In an interview with TV Fanatic, Glee actor Blake Jenner credited Barclay for guiding him through a difficult scene in the episode "Lights Out", saying "He was just so nurturing."
In a piece for Vulture, television critic Matt Zoller Seitz cites Barclay as one of the few producer/directors who can “manage and drive the medium [of television]” as well as a writer-showrunner can. Seitz explains, “Directors tend to think in terms of images and moments; those skill sets aren’t often compatible with the left-brain requirements of managing a sitcom or drama (though there are always exceptions; see veteran TV director Paris Barclay’s executive-producer credit on FX’s stylishly nasty biker drama, Sons of Anarchy).”
Ryan Murphy, creator of the Fox hit Glee, called Paris' episode "Wheels" a "turning point for the show".
Over time, many of Paris Barclay’s former assistants have gone on to great Hollywood success in their own right. One of his first assistants was Kevin Williamson, writer of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, as well as the creator and Executive Producer of the hit television shows Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, and The Following. Josh Barry, another former Barclay assistant, currently heads the television department at Prospect Park after working as an executive in Drama Development at ABC. Sam Martin, the former HBO executive (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Lackwanna Blues) and film producer (Pariah) also once served as Barclay’s assistant. Jason Clodfelter, VP of Drama Development at Sony Television, is another former Barclay assistant.
Openly gay since late in his college days, he was a regular contributor to The Advocate for several years. Barclay married food-industry executive Christopher Mason, his partner of 10 years, in 2008. They are the parents of 2 adopted children, Cyrus (born 2003) and William (2005).
Directed episodes of (arranged in order from most episodes directed to least):
- In Treatment (36 episodes; also executive producer; Golden Globe nomination, 2 DGA nominations, and NAACP Image Award nomination)
- NYPD Blue (12 episodes; 2 Emmy Awards; also supervising producer)
- Cold Case (9 episodes; also co-executive producer; NAACP Image Award)
- Sons of Anarchy (9 episodes, one NAACP Image Award nomination, also Executive Producer)
- Glee (7 episodes, 2 Emmy nominations, 1 DGA nomination)
- City of Angels (4 episodes; NAACP Image Award for best drama series; also Co-Executive Producer and co-creator)
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (4 episodes; 2 NAACP Image Award nominations)
- The Shield (3 episodes; NAACP Image Award nomination)
- The West Wing (3 episodes; 3 DGA nominations)
- ER (3 episodes; DGA nomination)
- Sliders (3 episodes)
- Angel Street (2 episodes)
- Second Noah (2 episodes)
- Clueless (2 episodes)
- Monk (2 episodes)
- NCIS: Los Angeles (2 episodes)
- Dirt (2 episodes)
- Fastlane (2 episodes)
- Diagnosis: Murder
- Brooklyn South
- American Dreams
- House MD (DGA nomination)
- Weeds (DGA nomination)
- The Mentalist
- The Good Wife
- Miami Medical
- The New Normal
- Last Resort
- The Chicago Code
- Law & Order
- Silk Stalkings
- Moon Over Miami
- Theatrical movie:
- Untitled Barbara Jordan Biopic (In development)
- Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood
- Television pilots:
- The Street Lawyer
- Dead Lawyers
- Big Mike
- Television movies:
- The Cherokee Kid (HBO)
- The Big Time (TNT)