By: Amrie Cunningham [My Take on TV]
A funny thing happened to me over the summer – I fell for a little show called The Game. I have always been a fan of Girlfriends – seriously, I watch it in reruns almost every single day. So I’m not sure why I hadn’t picked up on its spin-off, but once I did, I added it to the ever-growing/constantly changing DVR schedule.
I spent some time on the phone this past Black Friday (after 7 hours of ridiculous shopping) with one of the stars of the show, Hosea Chanchez (who plays mama’s boy / Saber’s quarterback Malik Wright), about his show, his career goals, and why he thinks you should all be watching!
How are things going with the show?
Hosea Chanchez: Well, we’re on strike, haha. But the show is going wonderful. We have been the number one series on the CW, the number one comedy now.
It’s a show where people weren’t sure how it was going to do, because spin-offs don’t always do so well. But it’s so independent of the show it came from (Girlfriends), that it’s really found its own home.
Right, right, exactly.
What about Malik made you want to play this character?
What made me want to play him, first of all, I thought initially he was so much like myself. Not externally, but internally, he was so much like myself. He was a mama’s boy, he was dependent on his mom, who hasn’t quite grown up yet, a big kid, a kid at heart. Just really trying to find where he fits in, in life. Not just in the NFL, and with his mom, but just basically trying to find a way for himself to be his own person, to be who he is as an individual. That was my space and time at that exact time. Plus I thought it would be a lot of fun, just playing someone who is ego driven, can say whatever he wants to say, do whatever he wants to do, because that’s not me; someone who does not think before he speaks.
Sometimes you wish you could do that all the time, don’t you?
Right! Everybody wishes that they could do that.
Going along those lines, what’s your favorite thing about Malik?
There’s a certain innocence about him that I respect and I like a lot. Just off of him, just being a mama’s boy and being sheltered from a lot and having only his mom to depend on. That was pretty much me. I had my grandparents. My grandparents raised me, but it was just me and my mom at times. It was just us. No father figure, no dad, other than my Granddad, but if you look at the fact of the matter, I really only had one parent and that was my mom. His dependency on his mom; which, he’s actually trying to gain independence right now, but yeah, that’s what I like the most about him.
I read a bit about how you wanted to become an actor. You were pretty young when you realized – was there something specific, or was it just a general feeling?
It was just a general feeling – my favorite TV show from adolescent years was The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. In particular, what Will Smith did. I enjoyed watching him. That’s kind of how I was. I was kind of the one that entertained my family. I was the one that was always cracking jokes, always looking for something to entertain my family and my friends. School really wasn’t my thing. School wasn’t my thing. Not that I got the worst grades, I just didn’t feel like I fit in, I just didn’t want to be in school, haha. I always wanted to be clowning around and enjoying myself. The thing that made me want to be an actor – it wasn’t anything in particular, just the entertainment aspect of it.
How did you break in? What is your story of how you ended up on the West Coast?
I just made a decision to move to LA. There was nothing anybody was going to do about it. That’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to be an actor. I knew in order to be an actor I had to be in California, so that’s the decision I made.
And it paid off, which is great. Because sometimes you get the horror stories of people who are out there forever, and it doesn’t.
I didn’t even give myself like 5 or 10 years. I didn’t give myself a time limit. I just knew that at the end of the day, I wanted to pursue my dreams at any cost. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and I knew it wasn’t going to be without some sort of sacrifice. I made up my mind to do it, and that’s what I did. I don’t think I made.
Where do you see your career taking yourself in the next few years?
Films and producing. Not necessarily producing the films that I’m in. Hopefully, I’ll be fortunate enough to do that. But definitely doing some films. Some really good studio films and some independent films. And definitely producing – I started a production company.
Who would you like to work in the future?
I’d love to work with Will Smith, Laurence Fishburne, Don Cheadle, and Clive Owen.
Right there are some of the best actors of our generation.
Some of the best actors. These are the people that I look up to. These are the people that when I think of my career, where I’m going and what I want to do, these are the people that inspire me to do better. They are the ones that inspire me to stay on top of my game, they are the ones that inspire me to learn more about my craft, and not just feeling like I’ve made it. I’ve said that I never felt like I made it. Making it is waking up and every day, bettering yourself and being able to go to work. That’s what I’m doing, and those are the people that I look up to that inspire me to be a better artist, and not just be complacent with my TV show.
What’s coming up for Malik?
The very last episode that we shot will be a good twist and turn for all of our characters. My character – I will say, loses a little of his power, and he realizes that he does not control everything. It’s really hard to talk about what’s happening right now, because we stopped dead. We stopped the show, mid-arcs for everybody. Everybody was headed in a certain direction and we stopped the show. By now, we’d have an extra four shows in the can already, unfortunately, and it’s kind of hard to tell what’s going to happen because we don’t know.
I think nobody knows, everybody’s a little scared about what’s coming up.
Nobody knows, we stopped right at the point where we’re all going in our own different moves. The episode that aired with me firing Tasha – you get to see the beginning of that, but you know, none of these stories, with any of our characters, they don’t conclude
On one hand, that’s kind of a good thing, because people are going to want to come back, I mean, to find a silver lining. What would you say to someone who hasn’t watched the show yet, or who has casually watched it – what’s a really good reason to get involved?
It is, I think, one of the best executed shows that show, I could say, multi-cultural, multi-faceted characters, in one world, all struggling to find their own place. The reason I would say you should watch the show, is it’s a damn good show. It keeps you laughing, it is the perfect mixture of drama, comedy. You can be laughing in one moment, and the next moment it turns extremely serious. It’s not a sitcom. It’s not a show that goes punch, punch laugh. It’s not that type of show. It’s a very real setting. Clearly, we’re a comedy, so we have to have comedic factors. That’s what makes it gold, that’s what makes it great, because it’s hard to accomplish that, with a purity and an honesty. That’s where all of these characters in this show come from. And the show is made for basically no money, haha! Our budget’s not great and look at the product. Mara Brock Akil, and her husband Salim Akil, who is our director, he’s directed every episode so far, they set a tone for this show that is one of the best tones I’ve ever seen, for this amount of money. I’ve not seen anything on this network, and on this network, with this budget that pulls off what they pull off.
I wouldn’t have known it was a low budget show – it doesn’t seem it.
It doesn’t. And Dan Dugan, our producer. They have vision for the show and that makes all the world of difference.
What other shows do you watch when you have free time?
Two of my favorite shows are on FX, outside of my show. One of them is Nip/Tuck and the other is Damages. I fit a little bit of reality TV in now and then. I love American Idol, when it’s down to the last couple people. I think it’s one of the best executions for a reality show. Heroes. I watch Heroes. I’m about to erase it from the TiVo. And one other show Pushing Daisies. It’s like a Tim Burton film. It’s very mythical and magical. Dark, gritty, and magic.
Anything else you’d want fans to know?
Watch The Game Mondays a 9:30!
You heard him – watch The Game – it’s a really enjoyable, easy way to pass the half hour.