Michael Strahan retired from the NFL in 2007. In interviews since then he’s said he hasn’t replaced that adrenaline rush that comes with suiting up and running through the tunnel onto the field. Now, I realize you were on the offensive side of the ball at receiver, but how has your transition been from playing pro ball to playing leading roles?
Just speaking from an athlete standpoint it’s a necessary transition, because when sports is done it’s done. I played since I was a child like most of my teammates, every sport – baseball, basketball, football – and when it becomes a part of your every day life, you know, you have to learn to let that go.
And then football is a different animal but the same beast, shout out to Kobe.
Right, shout out to Black Mamba. And you are right, no other sport is like football. It’s a violent
game. Even scientifically, just speaking man to man like… the adrenaline rush, the risk factor, the speed of the action, the high stakes. And again, violence. You could die on the football field; get hit when you’re not prepared or land the wrong way and you could be paralyzed. We’ve seen it happen. Football is barbaric and this is why we all love it.
So how does one transition from pro football player to pro fill-in-the-blank, as you have?
You have to first prepare for that day. It’s a young man’s game, you need a plan heading into your late 20’s early 30’s if not earlier. Then you have to accept the fact that when your playing years are done they’re done. You aren’t putting that jersey on again man. Strapping on that helmet and those pads getting ready for war with your combat brothers on that field in a stadium in front of thousands of people, that’s over.
What did you take from the game of football, particularly at the pro level, which helped adequately prepare you for your second act?
I couldn’t pinpoint one central aspect, but all of it helped me man-up so to speak. The heart, the discipline, the competitiveness, the comraderie, learning to lose, learning to win with dignity, and this is the main thing – preparation, practice
and rehearsal. Being prepared to go out and succeed because I wouldn’t get that play over in football and won’t get that scene over in acting.
Atlanta, your city, has been a hotspot for rap and R&B music for decades and in more recent years a headquarters for film and TV. Talk about how you have witnessed the city expand first hand from an A-Town native’s perspective.
Atlanta has always been a thriving city, this is nothing new. I’ve lived everywhere, all over the country from playing sports to being in business, and now to acting, it’s taken me all over. I’ve never seen a place like The-A. But we’ve always had that black drive, the black community of ATL has always created moments when the entire world was doing whatever we were on. Michael Jackson was doing the bankhead bounce (Laughs!). Before it was even cool to say you’re from here, we were already proud to be from Atlanta. Now its a melting pot. I’m from old Atlanta, the original black capital of the south. It has now transitioned into a mini LA or New York so its become a transplant city, and I’m for it but at times I miss the old atlanta. New Atlanta is the music and film capital of the world, we’re living and working in Black Hollywood.
From Hunger Games and Fast 5 to Devious Maids and Being Mary Jane, even a biopic like The Bobby DeBarge story, you have played very different characters in a number of diverse film genres, to what do you attribute your range as an actor?
I have an outstanding team and we try to select different roles that show my range, I don’t want to be typecast as a one trick pony. I can play the loving boyfriend, the overprotective husband, and next be the psychotic stalker, the thug and gangsta, the detective, the action guy. I want to play all the challenging roles, strong characters that are believable. And I’m told I’m a nice looking man (Laughs!) and even though that helps I don’t always want to be some romantic pretty boy. I’m the bad guy, the murderer, the killer, the drug dealer, the enemy, the Black marvel superhero. I want to keep reaching new levels and continue to progress while representing Black culture along the way.
You’re starring on BET’s Ruthless. Described as a soap opera, why do you feel the series has been such a huge hit with viewers?
Ruthless is out of the norm. At the same time the cult life is relatable because people have versions of our own cults whether that be a job or family or even our personal relationships, you know, why are you really there in the first place and then what is keeping you there? Is it some form of spiritual or psychological bondage? You know, who’s to say? Personally, I feel Tyler Perry is a creative genius, once you are in his creative space and get an opportunity to see the man work you really develop a greater appreciation for how dedicated he is to his craft. No one else can do what Perry does. I respect, appreciate and honor the opportunity. It’s been great to work with everyone on the show.
On Starz new Katori Hall drama P-Valley you play Rome, a slick-talking music executive looking to make dreams come true, some of those dreams are his and some are his artists.
That one is special because I got to pay homage to my Atlana drawl (Laughs!). The slang, the hood mannerisms, the southern mentality that is very familiar to me because coming up in the south that is what I was surrounded by. The series is set in Mississippi and it’s edgy, it’s sexy, it’s really depicting the strip club hustle and the streets, the people in that life twenty-four-seven. There hasn’t been anything on TV like this before. My character is just as you said, a slick street hustler trying to transition all that pimp, drug dealer game into something meaningful as a music executive.
You’re starring in Monogamy over on the UMC channel, a series which you are also a producer. Headed into your third season so congrats on that man. In addition, you’re also producing your new project The Wish which we look forward to seeing manifest. What attracted you to producing?
Just being able to evolve and have influence. I was green when I started, then you continue to learn and grow the more you create and act. I have some projects to put out, ideas I want to develop, and being able to control our narrative is very vital for us right now. Written, produced, and portrayed by us. Stories that accurately depict our legacy.
Ok, let’s get into the ladies real quick bro. They’re going to want to read this. Give us the three most important qualities a woman should embody from BK’s perspective.
That’s easy, Tone. And this is not a fake answer man (Laughs!). Confidence is very attractive in a woman. And it’s magnetic right, you can feel it, which leads to her sex appeal. That is what draws me to her. Then next please be genuine. Stop being fake and phony, don’t put on a show for me and pretend to be someone you’re not just to impress me. Let me experience who you are in real life, not who your wardrobe stylist, publicist, and makeup artist created. Then let’s just be open, honest, and transparent with one another. She and I have to be able to openly communicate.
Closing with a nod to Black Hollywold, Chris Rock’s famous “Oscar’s So White” opening Academy Awards monologue was in 2016 when there were no Black actor nominees. There appears to have been significant progress since then but what’s your take?
The needle is being pushed. They can’t tell us Black films don’t generate money, that they don’t sell overseas in foreign markets, that Black films don’t make blockbuster money, because we have seen our films and television shows do really well in theaters and on various cable networks. Our thoughts and creativity, our look, our swag, all of this we embody is now generating more opportunities. It’s our duty to represent Black excellence. Speaking our voice, making quality projects, more Black actors winning, growing up we didn’t see it. All these channels that need original content, we can’t be ignored any longer in any facet of entertainment. I am grateful, I’m honored, I’m blessed and I am appreciative to be involved in the process of our people, Black people, controlling our narrative. Finally we can tell our truth.