Born in Harlem, Hisham Tawfiq did not take a traditional path to the screen. Although he was, in his early years, a performer in a touring African and modern dance troupe, after graduating high school Tawfiq enlisted in the Marines and served in Operation Desert Storm. During his deployment, his love of performing never died, but he was also pragmatic. He knew he would need to be able to support himself if he wanted to pursue a career in acting, so when he left the Armed Forces, he took a short term job as a corrections officer at Sing Sing, then as a firefighter in the NYFD, a job that lasted twenty years and was flexible enough to accommodate the increasing amount of time he spent studying, auditioning, and performing. Tawfiq's first network TV appearance was, not surprisingly, as a firefighter in a 2007 episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999-). His first recurring role was on "Kings" (NBC, 2009). A loosely based, modern take on the story of King David, the show was adventurous, but failed to find an audience and was cancelled after the first season. After playing a number of supporting and guest roles, Tawfiq landed another recurring role, this time on the hit show "The Blacklist" (NBC, 2013-), featuring James Spader. Before the season, Tawfiq was promoted to series regular.