Mike Epps is having a pretty busy year. While preparing to star as the lead in the highly anticipated Richard Pryor biopic, he is flexing his acting skills in the Starz original series Survivor's Remorse. His character, uncle Julius, helps the show's lead man, Cam Colloway, on his road to success while he rises to fame as a basketball prodigy.
"I think uncle Julius is sort of a guardian angel for Cam," he exclusively told BET.com of his role. "He's in a situation right now where he's making money. He's out there in the world and he's a little green in a lot of situations — on the street side and dealing with people in the business. There's some things that the league doesn't teach the players. If you're lucky enough to have a family member that has been through some things and that is able to be in your life and steer you in a different direction, I think that's always good."
When pulling inspiration for uncle Julius, the actor went back to a familiar space in his life. "I have a lot of uncles. I think that the character that I play is really a derivative of my own father," he said. "My father is that kind of guy. When I read scripts, that's what I read [for]. When I'm reading them, I have people come to mind. I put their voices with it. It was just something that was really, really relatable to me."
Survivor's Remorse revolves around the ideals of family and community. Epps sees this as a necessary component, especially in Black television, for minority viewers to see positive images of themselves. "It's always important for us to turn the TV on and see something that is us that we can relate to," he said. "Believe it or not, music, television — people use those things to make their own decisions in life. So, I think this show is really helpful when it comes to that."
Epps isn't the only familiar face in the rising series. Tichina Arnold plays his sister and from the looks of it, their chemistry is seamless. "I've always been a fan of hers ever since the Martin show," he said. "She's a great actress. She's funny. She brings it. It's always good to work with someone who's professional, who knows what they're doing and has experience at it. I love Tichina."
Now that season two of Survivor's Remorse is underway, the Next Friday actor is on to a few more major projects. He is about to start filming his own television show on ABC titled Uncle Buck, and is gearing up to begin production on the Lee Dianiels-directed biopic based on the life of Richard Pryor. "Eddie Murphy is playing the father, Oprah Winfrey is playing the grandmother, Kate Hudson is playing my wife," he said of the film. "I'm just going to try to do the best Richard I can do."
Season two of Survivor's Remorse premieres on August 22 at 9:30 p.m on Starz.
Watch Mike Epps dish on his portrayal of Pryor on The Queen Latifah Show below:
(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)