As soon as I came to L.A., things immediately shifted for me. I was now actually here with the people who were making the decisions; I wasn't out in New York sending in tapes to L.A.
Each movie you do about a real person is like a painting, and you choose certain things in the painting that you want to pull out and you want to show.
I think the most stressful time of my life was when I was in New York, and I didn't have money to pay my rent.
Once you start getting big roles as an actor, everything pays. So what are you making decisions on? It's about the director or the script or whatever. But before you reach that point, you're taking jobs with, say, a theater company, in spite of the fact that it's not paying your bills.
I'm not one of those guys who walks around with a flip phone who doesn't want to be connected. There are times when I'm tech-friendly, and there are times when I personally do want to shut everything off because I'm more creative when I shut off.
I would go through these cycles of being really, really focused on work, and not being around anyone, to being around everyone. And that could be distracting. It was nothing or everything.
I remember my first agent telling me -- because they found me as an actor, but I was probably more interested in writing and maybe directing -- they were like, 'Well, you can't do both things.' And I was like, 'I'm gonna show you.'
I would love to have an ocean of love right now. That said, the number-one rule of acting is, 'Do not seek approval from the audience.' People don't realize that. You can't do stuff to get applause. You have to live in the truth.
I wasn't a comic book geek as a kid. I read some, but it was just like, Oh, I have this comic book here. It wasn't like I was collecting them.
I try to look at every role the same way, regardless of whether the character is real or the character is a fantasy. I always start from myself, because you have to know yourself first.
I thought I would draw or paint or be an architect. I was always drawing portraits. My mom put me in art classes in the summer.
The projects that I end up doing, that I want to be involved with in any way, have always been projects that will be impactful, for the most part, to my people -- to black people.
I said yes too much. I said yes to certain projects that weren't for me. It was somebody else's vision and somebody else's dream and somebody else's artistic endeavor, but it didn't necessarily fit in my grand scheme.
I'd taken, like, maybe some African dance classes a couple of times, but I wasn't a musical theater person at all.
I was raised in a sort of village. I have a huge family, and I think there is strength in that. It helped me to deal with some of the complications of living in the South because I always felt like I belonged, no matter what.
Actors can have a fair amount of hate for each other, so when another actor says, 'You did your thing,' or 'That was inspiring,' you can't really ask for more than that.
Baseball players need strength but also the ability to make fast-paced, explosive movements, so their training is all about strengthening the tendons around the bone and the joint so you don't tear the muscles from the bones.
Baseball players need strength but also the ability to make fast-paced, explosive movements, so their training is all about strengthening the tendons around the bone and the joint so you don't tear the muscles from the bones. And so the muscles will have endurance and stability. And flexibility, which helps you throw the ball harder or have the snap to hit a ball. Or to take off quickly to steal a base.
There's the phrase of 'making America great again,' but how did we make America great? Who did it? It was Thurgood Marshall who did it. It was Thurgood Marshall who made America live up to its constitution, to its dream. He pushed the envelope to make sure that we were equal.
People of African descent, most of us grew up accepting and loving Spider-Man. I still love Spider-Man. I still love the Incredible Hulk. I still have those characters that were white role models, superheroes, heroes -- whatever you want to call it. You basically had no choice but to accept those.
You might have one thing in your head, but the things you're doing don't really lead down the right road, necessarily. When you're young, you don't want to hear that. You think you can do everything, be all things.
Even after I became involved in theater and involved in TV and film, I had this sort of idea that Hollywood was off limits. There was something about L.A., the mystique of it and fear of it.
It was a big thing for me to read black writers. 'Fences,' by August Wilson. James Baldwin's 'Amen Corner.' 'The Fire Next Time.' 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X,' of course.
I like ambiguity because you may be the villain in someone else's story and the hero in your own, and I think very often, African-American characters are either one thing or the other. You shouldn't have to be perfectly good or perfectly bad. You don't even have to be magical.
I started out as a writer and a director. I started acting because I wanted to know how to relate to the actors. When people ask me what I do, I don't really say that I'm an actor, because actors often wait for someone to give them roles.
I think there's a difference between a working actor, a movie star and a celebrity. They're all three different things.
Sometimes when you're acting, you only need a little bit of something to sort of channel or, you know, transport into a place.
In TV, you're basically shooting an episode in 10 to 14 days; 14 days is a luxury situation. And in film, you have anywhere from a month to three months, or it can be even longer than that, depending on what the production is.
You have to cherish things in a different way when you know the clock is ticking, you are under pressure.
People have said, 'You don't need to do any more biopics. You don't need to play any more real people.' I don't agree with that.
I'm an artist. Artists don't need permission to work. Regardless of whether I'm acting or not, I write. I write when I'm tired in fact, because I believe your most pure thoughts surface.
I'm the kind of guy who comes home and checks scores for everything. I'm a sports fan in general, so I pretty much keep up with who's ahead in a division and everything that's going on.
I love all types of music. Jazz, classical, blues, rock, hip-hop. I often write scripts to instrumentals like a hip-hop artist. Music inspires me to write. It's either music playing or completely silent. Sometimes distant sound fuels you. In New York there's always a buzzing beneath you.