Thank you, Disney, for hosting me during the Thor: Ragnarok press event.
Actors are almost always polite when we do press interviews. They aren’t always genuinely nice and enthusiastic when they meet you though. Bernard David Jones and Marcel Spears were awesome and greeted us with hugs as we walked into the room. How fabulous is that?! They also laughed with us as we watched episode 2 of the Mayor before the interview. They were definitely a fun interview.
We sat down with actors Bernard David Jones (“Jermaine Leforge”) and Marcel Spears (“T.K. Clifton”) from ABC’s new show The Mayor last week. Naturally, both were funny since they were cast in a comedy but they both had compelling and heartwarming stories and ideas to share as well. I personally love that The Mayor is both topical and family-friendly. If your kids watch sitcoms, this is one the whole family can watch (and enjoy) together. I am sharing some of my favorite parts of our interview below.
Is this going to stay a family-friendly show?
It’s definitely a family show and I think that’s what’s important about our show and is special is that you can gather the family together, sit down and watch a show and then maybe discuss some of the issues that are happening. I know a lot of you guys have kids if not all of you, so it’s those issues like going to a music program and saying hey, my kid is a part of that and it works well for him or we need to keep that or just having a safe space for children in our episodes I think is amazing…and it has been very family oriented, but we do talk about real stuff and we don’t shy away from the real stuff. But we do it in a way that’s, I think copasetic to a family environment.
Yeah, this is one of those shows that you can sit down as a family and watch. It’s one of those shoes that your kids can grow into like, they watch an episode now, they don’t catch everything. They watch it again when they’re a little older and, and they see things that they never understood or didn’t comprehend. It’s definitely something that I feel like because of the design of it and because of the nature of the show, it’s something that can reach everybody in some kind of way.
You can catch the grown-up jokes and then the kids can look and aspire to be those guys.
And I love that Jeremy created these characters that kids can look up to. They can aspire to be the Mayor or, you know, Director of Communications. Some may not even know what that is. They may go home and Google, what is Director of Communications? I can do something like that? That’s cool. So I think to Jeremy’s testament, that is an amazing thing that he did was create these characters that grown ups can laugh at. You can catch the grown-up jokes and then the kids can look and aspire to be those guys.
How do you feel about taking on a politically flavored show at this time in our country’s climate?
It’s an opportunity for us as artists to provoke change and to inspire people and the thing is, when I was kid, people wanted to be the President – even if you didn’t want to be the President, that was the go-to answer if a teacher or somebody asked you and you want to give the answer that’s going to make your mom go, “Awww!” It was like, “I want to be the President of the United States of America.” You say that and people are like, aw, yeah, it can happen for you, kid.
And politics was a thing that you didn’t shy away from. Like, it’s always been a topic that you don’t talk about at dinner, but it’s something that people weren’t afraid of and now, I feel like people are so exhausted with it because you have to pick a side, pick a side, pick a side and it’s become so divided that we forgot that it’s a part of what makes this country great and I feel like us doing the show gives us a chance, in a fun way, in an approachable way to really talk about politics in a way that I feel like can reach people so that people aren’t afraid of politics anymore.
I feel like people are so exhausted with it because you have to pick a side, pick a side, pick a side and it’s become so divided that we forgot that it’s a part of what makes this country great…
So that people aren’t exhausted with it so much and they can really get down to what it’s about and what it’s about is taking care of the people around you. Like, really taking care of your community and making sure that you’re looking out for the next person. Whether you disagree on how to go about doing that, the end goal is always the betterment of the community.
And I think what’s also special about our show is that we come from a non-partisan standpoint, so there’s no, “you have to be a Democrat” or “you have to be a Republican.” We don’t choose sides. We present what’s going on these communities and we offer solutions on how to fix it.
On working with actress Yvette Nicole Brown.
Oh, it’s amazing. I mean, we have Yvette Nicole Brown. If you’ve ever met her, you’ve ever talked to her, you’ve ever seen her in anything…people are like “Yvette, we love you. We love you. We love you.” And I always say, Yvette, you know what, I hope that people love me the way that they love you and respect you, and she said, just be yourself and have a heart for people.
And so, that’s been some of the best advice that she’s given, but she is literally like Big Sis. She’s like, “Don’t do that. Do that. Stay away from that. That right there, uh-unh.”
Straight up. Yvette helped me find an apartment. I was in New York at the time and then I went to San Diego. I was doing a play. She was like, I can go to the apartment. I can Face Time you and I’ll show you what it is. She is that kind of person. Straight up.
She just has a heart. That’s just her.
She helped pay for me to get to New York one time and she was like, “Well, I know where you work. You’ll give it back.” Then when I tried to give it back, she’s like, “Baby, just keep the money.” She just has a heart. That’s just her. When you see her in these interviews, it’s not Hollywood. It’s not fake. It is genuine.
On working with Brandon Micheal Hall.
And I think we’re blessed to have a leader in Brandon. He’s wise beyond his years. He’s a great actor. Julliard trained. But he’s a great friend. We hang out.
He’s wise beyond his years.
We actually hang and Brandon is one of those people like – I’ve been knowing Brandon for three years now. He’s the one who called me and told me that I got this job. He wasn’t supposed to call me and tell me that. But it’s one of those situations too where I’m watching this young man grow into himself and taking on the position of being the number one and being the star of the show and really learning as he goes and being a servant leader and making sure that we’re all okay and taking care of us. I’m proud. It’s weird. I’ve only known him three years, but I feel like I’ve known him forever.
And he’s under a lot of pressure. He’s the lead of an ABC show. The only comedy that ABC picked up [to premiere in the fall] this season and he’s the lead of it and he’s handing, handling it beautifully.
What’s the backstory to the Mayor?
It’s the brainchild of Daveed Diggs and Jeremy, so it’s what happened when you got Daveed talking about growing up in Oakland and being a struggling rapper straight out of Brown and trying to figure out what to do and he’s doing theater and he’s doing pick-up gigs as an actor and he’s still doing shows and his band isn’t as popular, so they’re trying to figure it out and he was living with his parents.
And Jeremy really created a character that doesn’t really have the obvious skill set to be a politician, but still has an understanding by nature of how he grew up in a single parent household. Growing up with a lot of love, growing up in an underprivileged or underfunded community, by the nature of his upbringing, he sort of understands subconsciously or intrinsically, the things that the people in the community need.
You can catch a sneak peek from tonight’s The Mayor episode below.
Catch “THE MAYOR” airing Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c on ABC!