The Mayor of Baltimore tried to sabotage production on The Wire
“The Mayor hated us because he thought we made Baltimore look bad. He told the cops to come down on us for anything: jay walking, resisting arrest, loitering. People got arrested, production was postponed sometimes coz people were locked up; people went missing for a couple of days at a time. But it was a crazy time, it was amazing, the most exhilarating moment of my life.”
He worked the door at NYC’s infamous Cheetah Club
“The Cheeta Club was a hot spot you know, Biggie Smalls and other rappers would reference it. But I wasn’t a bouncer, I was the clipboard holding loudmouth saying “you can get in, you can’t, you gotta go home and change”. I got into a couple of fights because of it but I also became that guy people know in the city. People would see me at some place, at the club, but then see me on TV doing bit parts, so I became a kinda staple in Manhattan nightlife.”
It was on the door that he got his acting break
“John Singleton (director) was in New York and he was dating a girl I knew. I met him while I was working the door at the Cheeta Club, he liked my vibe and asked me to come in and audition. I didn’t get the part because the producer didn’t like my look – But for some reason the other actor didn’t work out and I got a call offering me the part.
That was monumental for me, I was the first one in my crew who was part of a major blockbuster movie and it connected me with my parents. They grew up on the original Shaft so it had that old school/ new school connection. After that people saw me as one of those actors who was going to the next level”.
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He almost turned down the role of Bubbles
“In my mind, there were two problems: 1) I didn’t want to play stereotypical character, it could be the kiss of death for my up and coming career and 2) I didn’t think I could do better than what I’d already seen and as an artist, if you don’t think you can do better than what has already been done then why bother?
Luckily I had a strong manager, he said ‘they’re not offering you the part, they’re offering you an audition. Come in and do it’. I met them, and realised that it felt like something different, they weren’t trying to be general cop show and they were making sure that no one came across as a gimmick.”
He thought people would hate The Wire
“There was a lot of talking in our show, nothing really happens in the first episode. When we saw the pilot some of the cast fell asleep, some of us were like- yo, this is boring. We thought people would hate us. We were shocked when HBO picked up the first ten episodes. It was only by the 3rd or 4th episode that we realised it was something different.”
“I remember going to David Simon and saying ‘they hate us, what will we do? We need more sex and killing!’ He was very confident and said that he wasn’t going to dumb down to the audience. He said people like to be educated while they are entertained and they will appreciate it later on down the road.”
People thought he was really homeless while filming
“It happened all the time! I remember going to craft services and taking some candy and security chased me down the block and tried to kick my a** yelling “get outta here!!”