By Ryan Meehan
Actor Andra Fuller is best known for his role on The CW’s critically acclaimed series, “The L.A. Complex” where he played ‘Kaldrick King,’ a menacing, complex, closeted gay rap superstar. His performance of the multifaceted character earned him a nomination for Best Male Actor at the 2013 Canadian Emmy’s (The Canadian Screen Awards). He is set to play ‘Fish,’ the best friend, confidant and moral compass of the lead character in the new Adult Swim series “Black Jesus”. The half-hour live-action comedy helms from the Peabody Award Winning “The Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder; and stars newcomer Gerald “Slink” Johnson as Jesus living in present-day Compton, California. We are delighted to have Andra Fuller as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What have you learned so far from working with Aaron McGruder; and what can you tell us about your character on the show?
AF: As we all know, Aaron McGruder is masterful when it comes to satire and finding creative ways to bring awareness to some rather controversial subjects. But one thing that I have learned from Aaron is, that no matter how controversial or what story you tell, people will pay attention as long as it has HEART. And that’s the thing that most people didn’t expect to see in Black Jesus; the show has a lot of heart and compassion.
RM: Race is always a heavy topic in American culture, and that seems to be the case now more than ever…Is the purpose of “Black Jesus” more to address the issues facing inner cities and urban communities, or to create something that is just comedy and exists completely separate from race relations?
AF: The primary purpose of Black Jesus is to make viewers laugh. However while you’re laughing, we do hope you catch the messages that Jesus continuously preaches throughout the show: Love, Kindness, Faith, Forgiveness, Belief.
On the other hand, being a part of a successful show does allow us the platform to speak out and address things like race relations in our country. As you mentioned, that’s a hot topic right now, especially with all the turmoil stemming from Ferguson, Missouri and the many other places where race seems to be the motivation for perceived excessive Police force. Now more than ever, we all could use a personal lesson from Black Jesus’ teachings of, “Love for ALL mankind.”
RM: It says in your bio that you were given the opportunity to play college ball, but after an unsatisfactory visit to Notre Dame, you decided on Baylor. What was it about that visit to South Bend that turned you away from that educational institution and their college football program?
AF: It was nothing against Notre Dame personally, but the transition from a city like Houston, to South Bend, Indiana was just a bit much for a 17 year old kid. Then on top of the actual culture shock, Lou Holtz had just retired and Notre Dame still didn’t have a new head coach at the time of my visit. So in all, it just didn’t make sense for me to stick with Notre Dame as my college of choice.
However, my choice of Baylor University didn’t play second fiddle either, as Baylor is also one of the nation’s top tier academic institutions. And though a decade late, the football powerhouse I predicted Baylor to be. LOL!!
RM: How do you go about studying a role where the character has a personality that is much different than yours? Can you give us an example of what you have done to research any role that you’ve had to play?
AF: When I take on any role I do my best to draw from my many personal experiences or the experiences of people I know. If I’m having trouble relating to a particular character, I usually just create an in depth back story. By doing so, that usually helps me find some common ground or something relatable to the character that gives me direction to guide my acting choices. I haven’t really had to do any outlandish types of research for any roles yet, but I do look forward to having to do so in the future!
RM: What can you tell us about the working relationship you have with Gerald Johnson a.k.a. Black Jesus? Any great stories from the set worth noting?
AF: Slink and I have a great professional and personal relationship. Even though a personal relationship is not a prerequisite for a successful show, it definitely helps if your 2 lead actors actually like each other and get along off camera. It typically helps the on-camera chemistry as well.
With such a hilarious cast, I have many, many memorable stories, but the one I’ll share with you is the first time I met Slink. It was actually at my initial audition; I walked in and was greeted by this huge 6’7 dude with a cap on. I did the scripted scenes and a few improved scenes with him, not even knowing HE was actually playing Jesus. Our casting directed informed me after the read who Slink was and he revealed it was his first acting job, EVER! I remember feeling elated for him because I remembered my first major acting job I booked. I think he sensed how genuinely happy I was for him (probably because I kept saying it over and over) and that further solidified our initial bond. And plus our chemistry was instantaneous. Our read felt like I was just chatting with an old friend. I super happy for him!
RM: What’s the biggest misconception that people outside of the entertainment industry have about Hollywood? Why do you think that is; and how do you view the industry as a working actor?
AF: I think the biggest misconception people have about Hollywood is that, “Anyone can do it.” People move here all the time thinking that success is just around the corner, but what they don’t understand is, this is a BUSINESS and a lot of hard work and perseverance has to be applied. People outside of Hollywood think just because they were the prettiest or most handsome, and most talented person at their school or in their hometown, that they’re destined for fame in Hollywood. Well the truth is, there are millions more people in Hollywood who are better looking, funnier, wittier, smarter, taller, and more talented than you. What separates us all is the amount of hard work that goes into the craft, and a dash of good fortune.
RM: Adult Swim has had a lot of really successful shows in the past such as “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show – Great Job!”, and “Loiter Squad”. Do you feel that since your show is part of such a killer lineup that there is a lot of pressure for this series to really become a hit? Do you think that you’re prepared for everything that will come with that success when it happens?
AF: I don’t really think there was much pressure for our show to succeed because we kinda have our own lane carved out on Adult Swim. A couple of the other shows are live-action as well, but unlike them, we aren’t a sketch comedy show. We’re a sitcom with a nice spiked-boot kick in the mouth, and slap on the ass!
RM: What is it that you hope viewers will take away from your character on the show? Have you always thought of yourself as someone who would excel in a supporting role?
AF: I’m a very confident person, so I absolutely expect to excel at anything I apply myself too. So yes, I look forward to landing more leading roles in the near future.
If anything, I hope people can see my character, Fish, as a relatable example of redemption. Fish shows that no matter what wrongs you’ve committed in your past, a current healthy relationship with Jesus can help you turn your life around.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
AF: I’ll soon be starring in an upcoming episode of USA Network’s new show ‘Rush’ (airs 9/4), and season 3 of my award winning webseries ‘RoomieLoverFriends’ is currently in full swing on BlackAndSexyTV (YouTube). I’ve also been working on some music and just recently released my first single, ‘Play On’ (by Dre Fuller) on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. But in all, I just look forward to bigger and better roles, and expect to transition into film pretty soon.
Andra on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1822183/
Andra on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andra-Fuller/129593577053661
Andra on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mrdrefuller
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