embi Locke has made a career starring in over forty television shows and films. She has appeared on THE MENTALIST, CSI: NY, BONES, FRIENDS, NBC’S WINDFALL, and the original 90210. Currently, she plays Dr. Grace Monroe, a biotech specialist as comfortable with a microscope as a wrench, in the acclaimed Syfy series EUREKA.
Born to civil rights activist parents in Houston, TX, Tembi was named by legendary South African folksinger and activist Miriam Makeba. Her name, Tembekile, means “trustworthy.” It was a politically charged beginning for the girl who once watched late night re-runs of The Planet of the Apes while her father taught her the ins and outs of disengaging an FBI wiretap on the family phone. “I mean really, leather vest wearing orangutans and wiretaps! Talk about theatre of the absurd. How could I not make a beeline for the nearest stage? In acting, I found a place to hold both the humor and depth of my experience.” That combination of wit and heart is something that Tembi still brings to each of her roles.
Fluent in Italian, Tembi lived in Italy before graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in art history. After college, she moved to NYC and began doing “off-off-off and around-the-corner from” Broadway plays. “You had to go six flights up to see a play in a closet with more actors than audience members.” She also worked on the soap opera AS THE WORLD TURNS while studying at Circle in The Square and with Bill Esper. “It was a creatively defining time, an ideal preparation for a life in the arts. I waited tables in the West Village ‘til five in the morning and took classes during the day, trying my hand at everything from hosting to being a tour guide. I had to learn fluidity and tenacity, something that would come in handy when I moved to Hollywood.” After her agent lured her to Los Angeles, she launched her primetime career, booking her first audition for the classic TV sitcom THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR.” She has never looked back.
Tembi is also a painter and a writer. Her paintings are in private collections across the United States. In 2009, she was short listed for the PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship for creative writing and is currently at work on her first book. In her personal life, she is passionate about issues related to sustainability, arts education, and support for families facing chronic illness. “My dream would be to establish an arts center especially for children with chronically ill parents. I know how much the arts lifted my childhood during difficult times. I can only imagine how transformative it would be for children who are living in an atmosphere of illness.”
A longtime vegetarian, Tembi is also an avid homesteader, growing fruits and vegetables on a city plot in the heart of Los Angeles. “One of my favorite quotes is ‘Live simply so others can simply live.’” When not working, she enjoys cooking with her Italian chef husband, traveling, running, practicing yoga, and hanging out with her “way cool” daughter in their garden where, undoubtedly, there are a bumper crop of vegetables to be tended.