You would think growing up as a child star that extraordinary opportunities will later be bestowed upon you as you mature and matriculate in your craft. Putting in exceptional work for x amount of years, proving your abilities based on performance and integrity to later discover that your gifts are invaluable. From Wild & Crazy Kids to Smart Guy and Hanging with Mr. Cooper, actor Omar Gooding has always been our best friend, the cool kid and the funny guy. But for this comedic actor, he knew that it would take one circumstance to change the way the world viewed him and solidify his versatility. Check out our interview with Omar as we discuss being a black male actor and how he has shaped his career over time.
As an actor, are there any signature styles or tips that you’ve leaned towards when performing or portraying a particular character?
I am definitely the type of actor that knows his strengths. I know the type of roles that I can really bring to life and put my own spin on in a creative way. So I always keep that in mind when I am choosing which roles to accept or take on.
What has been a pivotal milestone in your career that has helped shape who you are today?
I would have to say when I received a call from John Singleton to read for the role of Sweet Pea in the feature film “Baby Boy”. Up to that point, I was content with being a sitcom actor. Mainly because I wasn’t taken seriously or considered seriously for dramatic roles in feature films. John saw something that I knew I had in me but I felt I needed to prove to everyone else. So I poured myself into that role both mentally and physically. The end result not only changed the way I was perceived as an actor. But proved to myself that I indeed possessed the versatility to pull off comedy and drama.
Do you think African American male actors are subjected/typecast to certain roles?
When I began in the business, most definitely. But recently we are seeing the doors opening up. Hollywood now knows that an African American male or female LEAD can bring in big numbers in the box office as well as carry a film and be a huge success.