Best known as Calvin Payne in Tyler Perry's House of Payne and for movies like Our Family Wedding, Lance Gross is breaking out of the comedy-drama genre in NBC’s new action thriller Crisis. As a Secret Service agent thrust into the middle of a kidnapping plot, he’s happily taking on the role of action hero in the series. He tells BET.com why this role means so much to him.
What’s your Crisis character like?
Marcus Finley is a really positive guy. He was a D.C. cop for three years, he’s a Secret Service agent and a rookie in the Secret Service. It’s his first day on the President’s son’s detail and it just turns out to be the craziest day of his life.
What drew you to it?
It was something that I never had done before. I come from the comedy world with Tyler Perry. It’s completely different from House of Payne. This is something I’ve always wanted to sink my teeth into. It’s a lot more action, a lot more drama. The pilot was such a page turner, and it’s like that with every episode. So I’m having a lot of fun with this.
When did you know you wanted to act?
I was very young. I just remember sitting in front of the TV watching Nickelodeon and wanting to do that. I grew up a shy kid so it really didn’t happen until college. I had a great professor in my first acting class and she broke me out of my shell. Once I got the bug, I was hooked.
Was your family supportive?
Once I let them know it was something that I wanted to do, they were all for it. They said, “You have potential, use your potential, believe in yourself, work hard and it will come to you,” and it did. My my mother is a huge Tyler Perry fan but she’s really excited about Crisis because she knows how much I wanted to be an action star.
Do you think things are improving for people of color on television?
This is an awesome time for people of color, especially with shows like Scandal and this show. Marcus Finley didn’t have to be African-American. it could’ve been anyone. I went into that audition room and I was prepared — I busted my butt and I got the role. I don’t consider myself an African-American actor, I consider myself an actor.
What are you most passionate about?
I’m in a relationship. That and my career are everything to me. My greatest priority now is happiness, to do the things that I love while I’m young and just take control of my own life. Happiness is everything. And I have a lot to be happy with.
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(Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images)