Born February 20, 1958 in Brooklyn, he studied there at Boys High School. In 1977 he moved to Southern California and worked in nursing for six years before making his debut in the porn industry. He also worked as a photo model, speaking both on the catwalk and shooting for print publications.
Started filming in 1985. He made his directorial debut in 1991 with My Baby's Got Back and In Loving Color. In 1993, he founded Sean Michaels Productions, and in 1997 the studio was renamed Sean Michaels International when Anabolic Video began distribution.
In April 2010, Michaels hosted the XRCO Award along with Lisa Ann and Nikki Benz. In 2008, he hosted the Urban X Awards with Olivia O'Lovely.
He starred in more than 1300 films and directed 212 films. Along with Lexington Steele and Mr. Marcus, he is one of the most famous African American porn actors.
According to the Adult Film News Web Page
In 2016, Michaels was elected President of the Adult Performance Artists Guild, then the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG). As President, he announced the APAG would push to raise the legal age to perform in adult films from 18 to 21, commenting that "it's 21 years old to drink, so you should have to be 21 to do porn." In 2018, drawing criticism from APAG members who saw him as reducing his participation in the union, Michaels was replaced in the role by Alana Evans, who said that Michaels had been "blackballed" in the pornographic industry due to his guild participation.
In the May 1997 issue of Vibe magazine, he was called "the preeminent force in interracial erotic entertainment." In her book A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography, women's studies scholar Mireille Miller-Young notes how Michaels's portrayal of "suave and professional" characters in his films has challenged the stereotyping of black men as "sexual beasts" in pornography and expanded opportunities for black performers. Violet Blue shares a similar sentiment in The Ultimate Guide to Adult Videos, calling Michaels a "major force in changing the face and attitudes of the adult industry towards black performers." Blue concluded by dubbing him "the most famous black man to ever appear in porn."