Chris Rock: The road from stand-up comedian to Oscar host

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016
In this Feb. 28, 2015 file photo, comedian Chris Rock performs at Comedy Central's "Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs" in New York.

Chris Rock experienced racial discrimination at an early age, when he was beaten and bullied while attending a nearly all-white public school in Brooklyn. But Rock would go on to transform his struggles into an uninhibited stand-up comedy routine that would lead to future Hollywood stardom.

At 19, Rock was discovered by comedy star Eddie Murphy, who gave him his first credited film role in Beverly Hills Cop II. Rock followed in Murphy's comedy footsteps when he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1990.

Rock's Hollywood career was on the rise, but he felt frustrated during his tenure at SNL. He left the show after only three seasons and his career quickly plummeted.

"No one wanted me," Rock told Entertainment Weekly. "Literally every agent in town turned me down."

Undaunted by rejection, Rock shifted his focus onto what made him special in the first place -- stand-up comedy. Rock returned in 1996 with a smash-hit HBO special and established himself as an Emmy-award winning comic star, offering some of the most raw and biting social commentary of our generation. Over the next two decades, he would continue to redefine himself as a bankable film actor, filmmaker, Broadway performer, and critically-acclaimed television writer.

"You get to the point where you think, 'I've won just about everything. I've been blessed to have this career. I've been blessed to have this forum, and I should take complete advantage of it,'" Rock told Oprah Winfrey in 2011. "Life can always be new."

Returning to host the Oscars for the second time, the renaissance funny man is sure to hold a mirror up to the Hollywood scene once again.

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