In entertainment, few things are certain. But one of them is that Mekhi Phifer is going to have a job. The veteran actor has been onscreen since his debut in Spike Lee’s Clockers in 1994. Since then, the Harlem native has been a fixture on the big and small screen. He’s now starring in Frequency, a CW show where he plays a police officer who gets to do some time traveling. We caught up with him recently and here’s how he answered our questions…in five minutes.
What’s the best thing about being from Harlem?
Swagger. Having that uptown New York swag. You’re in a city within a city. Harlem is like a nation.
With all of the TV options available, why should we watch your new show?
I think it’s a very intriguing concept. There’s no cookie cutter characters and everyone is very well-developed. As an audience member, you will be intrigued seeing where the story goes each week and really be thrown for a loop. You won’t be able to predict what’s going to happen. So I think the audience will really grasp on to that.
What one personal quality do you think has contributed to your longevity and success as an actor?
I think it’s being able to connect to your audience and being personable so that people can relate to the characters that you portray, no matter who the character is. Humanizing the characters really adds to whatever it is that you’re doing. So I think that’s one of the attributes.
What is one thing we’ll never find out about you via your social media?
Well, I’m about to reveal that secret, now, huh? I don’t know. I don’t have too many secrets. Maybe that I skydive and I’m very adventurous. I’m pretty much an open book. What you see is what you get.
What has allowed you to remain, at least from what we can see, a pretty normal brother in Hollyweird?
Family and being grounded, and understanding that what I do is not who I am. I love doing what I do, because it affords me the [ability] to do all the things I love to do in life. Traveling, the different people that I get to meet, the different scenarios in which I find myself. I do love what I do, but it also allows me to feed my family, travel and do all the wonderful things that life has to offer.
What is one thing you’d like to say to Spike Lee?
Bring back Mars Blackmon. (Laughs)
I think that’s actually happening. Are you going to be on She’s Gotta Have It?
What is one thing you wish someone had told you about being a working actor before you got started in this career?
I never had a mentor. I’ve always had to learn through trial and error and on my own. Just like in life. My father was never present in so I had to learn how to be a man and adjust to that sort of energy on my own. It’s hard to say. I think I needed to go through the things that I’ve gone through to be where I am, to be as happy and as solid and as grounded as I am today. There’s not anything that I wish somebody would have told me. I think I needed to go on that journey myself.
I’m coming over to your house to hang out with you and the Eppses (Omar and Keshia) who are good friends of yours. What should I bring, who should I bring and what are we going to end up doing?
(Laughs) Yeah, that’s my brother. Well, if we’re having a barbeque, bring some cards. We might get some Spades going, we might get some Pitty-Pat, some poker, who knows. Just bring good energy because we’re going to laugh and have a good time. And if you really want to float my boat, bring me some sunflower seeds from Whole Foods, the ones that have the low sodium, so I can indulge and get to crackin’ and having a good time.
Frequency airs on The CW on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
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