My first job was television. I got to where I wanted to go, but through a little bit of a detour. When I first started working in film and television, I hated myself - I didn't like what I was doing at all. All I could think of was, 'I'm overacting. Be smaller.' I started to do that, but that was not fun. I felt confined doing film and TV.
On 'Black Lightning' I have a stunt double who's a lot younger than me. The fighting style on the show is heavily martial arts-based, and I know boxing; I don't know martial arts. I also have a really bad knee, and he's been doing martial arts since he was 6 years old, so I'm not thinking, 'No, I can do that! I can make that look cool!'
I realized that being that No. 1 on the call sheet sets the tone. That knowledge, it's important to me that everyone - not just actors, not just myself, but everyone - have a workplace that they enjoy, where they feel respected, that they have creative input, and that they feel is a place that they're excited to go to work.
Who I always refer to as my acting mentor when I got into junior college is an acting professor by the name of Tom Blank. He took me under his wing, and he was that strong male figure. He was tough love, but he believed in me, saw everything that I had.
As an actor, the flaws are the things that are juicy to play. If the character is perfect, it can be a little boring.
A friend of mine kind of revealed to me that idea that there has been countless Supermen and Batman. But I'm the first person to play Black Lightning. It's exciting to originate a character.
As a kid, you just like anything fanciful that you're into, but as an adult, I really love that kind of place where the super hero mythos meets life, where it has that human story; that's what I think I was really drawn to when I started getting into the X-Men.
From the moment I turned 39, 40, I really turned a corner and became a person who really enjoys working out. When I don't get a chance to, I miss it. I also just recognized that it would give me career longevity if I kept myself in the best shape I could possibly be in.
Shooting a season can be a grind. It can be seven to eight months of work. Once you stop, it slows down any momentum you had.
Back in the day as a kid, I was really drawn to the Hulk because it just felt so human and was probably one of the first stories that I felt emotionally invested in and not just thought it was really cool. You really feel for that person and put yourself in that situation.
I love when I get compliments on my shirts all the time. I'm a t-shirt guy, and I think nine times out of 10, they have some kind of super hero character on them.
When I get into collecting things, I get a little obsessive. Which is why when I start buying comics, I buy way too many, and I have to stop myself.
There are aspects of small town life that I really like - the routine nature of it, the idea of people knowing you and your likes and dislikes.
A lot of times, people believe that until you're a certain-list actor, you say yes to everything; you're not allowed to say no. But early on, something went off in me, and if something didn't ring true for a myriad of reasons, I would say no and was fortunate enough to have people around me that were OK with that.
I didn't really know of 'Black Lightning' until I got the script and started to investigate - it wasn't a hero that I grew up with. So I didn't know if his powers were natural or if it was the suit, but those things are, for me, very important. I really like the idea that his powers are his - that whether he has the suit or not, he has them.
I was a poor kid. I grew up watching film and television but primarily television. And I graduated high school, and I knew I wanted to go to college because nobody in my family had. So I was like, 'I'll go and be a theater major.'
I grew up mainly with my mother, and I would see my father from time to time. But I didn't have a constant male figure.
Sometimes you got to mess stuff up to get change going.
Unfortunately, when you look at the amount of comic book heroes out there, minority heroes are few and far between.
I'm a big fan of superheroes and fantasy and sci-fi. I have been since I was a child.