Gil Cates Jr. began his career in the entertainment industry as an actor in episodic television series such as Matlock, Major Dad and Silk Stalkings. He has also acted in the feature films The Suspect, Internal Affair, and Innocent Blood, as well as movies for television including In My Daughter's Name, Confessions, Innocent Victims and Netforce.
His feature film directing debut was the drama $pent, which he also wrote and produced. He has also directed The Mesmerist, produced and directed A Midsummer Nights Rave, and produced and directed the documentary Life After Tomorrow, about the 12 young actresses who played "Annie" on Broadway. He followed up with work on the episodic series "Joey" and his documentary Pass the Sugar. More recently, Cates wrote and directed Deal, starring Burt Reynolds and Bret Harrison and Lucky, with Ann-Margret and Jeffrey Tambor.