The Art of Random Willy-Nillyness: Interview with stars Bernard David Jones and Marcel Spears from THE MAYOR #ABCTVEvent #TheMayor
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Interview with stars Bernard David Jones and Marcel Spears from THE MAYOR #ABCTVEvent #TheMayor

Disclosure: I attended the #ThorRagnarokevent #abctvevent and my expenses: flight, accommodations, transportation and some meals were be covered by Disney. All opinions, however, are always 100% mine.

During the Thor Ragnarok event, we were able to also screen an episode of the ABC show The Mayor. The Mayor is hilarious. It is also clever and cute and great for all ages. We were lucky enough to meet two of the stars of the show and interview them. We interviewed Bernard David Jones who plays Jermaine Leforge and Marcel Spears who plays T.K. Clifton. Both actors were so nice and funny. They were also so enthusiastic about the show that it was contagious. The interview was lots of fun but they also had some thoughtful answers about the show and the implications of being on the show.

The premise of the show is great. The acting is great. And the episode we saw was actually really funny. Here are some snippets of our interview with Marcel and Bernard. It was so much fun and if you haven’t seen The Mayor on ABC, do so. It is a great little show!

Marcel Spears and Bernard David Jones

Q: How did you get involved with the show?

Bernard David Jones: I started with auditioning. My agent gave me the casting notice. I read the script and I said, I have to be a part of this. I don’t know how I’m going do it, but I need to be a part of this. It was so amazing. The script was so funny. It was topical. It was current and I was just like, man, I need to do this.

Marcel Spears: It was the same for me. I auditioned in New York and I feel like every young brother in New York that could halfway sing and kind of rap was in that audition room. It happens a lot. We see each other and we’re like, what’s up. I originally auditioned for [the role of Courtney Rose]. [But] Brandon went in and apparently free-styled for an hour and he killed his audition because we auditioned at the same place and so the casting director was like but we got to find a place for Marcel.

Q: How do you feel about taking on a politically flavored show at this time in our country’s climate?

Bernard David Jones: I was going to just say, as artists, it’s kind of our duty, our job to be able to hold a mirror up to our country, our world and say, this is what’s going on. How do we fix it? What can we do to fix it? And I think our show is an awesome representation of what happens when somebody that has a heart for people, who understands community and unity, leads with love. How that can affect a community and you know, this guy, he has no political experience. He didn’t mean to win. He was doing what millennials do: trying to get some of that ka-ching.

Marcel Spears: Trying to get the followers up.

Bernard David Jones: But he didn’t stray away from the responsibility. He took it head on and I think that’s a good lesson for all of us. You know, all of America. If there’s something going in your neighborhood that you want to change, take leadership. Take ownership of your community, so I think it’s a great opportunity to be able to be some type of maybe a catalyst for mobility or, in your communities for some type of change.

Marcel Spears: Yeah, I agree. It’s an opportunity for us as artists to provoke change and to inspire people and the thing is, when I was kid, people wanted to be the President – even if you didn’t want to be the President, that was the go-to answer if a teacher or somebody asked you and you want to give the answer that’s going to make your mom go, “Awww!” It was like, “I want to be the President of the United States of America.” You say that and people are like, aw, yeah, it can happen for you, kid.

And politics was a thing that you didn’t shy away from. Like, it’s always been a topic that you don’t talk about at dinner, but it’s something that people weren’t afraid of and now, I feel like people are so exhausted with it because you have to pick a side, pick a side, pick a side and it’s become so divided that we forgot that it’s a part of what makes this country great and I feel like us doing the show gives us a chance, in a fun way, in an approachable way to really talk about politics in a way that I feel like can reach people so that people aren’t afraid of politics anymore.

So that people aren’t exhausted with it so much and they can really get down to what it’s about and what it’s about is taking care of the people around you. Like, really taking care of your community and making sure that you’re looking out for the next person. Whether you disagree on how to go about doing that, the end goal is always the betterment of the community.

Bernard David Jones: And I think what’s also special about our show is that we come from a non-partisan standpoint, so there’s no, “you have to be a Democrat” or “you have to be a Republican.” We don’t choose sides. We present what’s going on these communities and we offer solutions on how to fix it.

Marcel Spears: Yeah, I’m learning a lot about it, too. Like, city politics: you have your big banner issues, but when you get down to how a city functions, everybody wants a road that they can drive on without a million pot holes. Everybody wants clean water, so when you really get down to talking about those issues that affect the day to day operation of a city, I think everybody gets closer to the middle than even I thought in the beginning.

Photo credit: Allison Waken /

Q: Is this going to stay a family friendly show?

Bernard David Jones: It’s definitely a family show and I think that’s what’s important about our show and is special is that you can gather the family together, sit down and watch a show and then maybe discuss some of the issues that are happening. I know a lot of you guys have kids if not all of you, so it’s those issues like going to a music program and saying hey, my kid is a part of that and it works well for him or we need to keep that or just having a safe space for children in our episodes I think is amazing. It has been very family oriented, but we do talk about real stuff and we don’t shy away from the real stuff.

But we do it in a way that’s, I think copacetic to a family environment.

Marcel Spears: Yeah, this is one of those shows that you can sit down as a family and watch. It’s one of those shows that your kids can grow into. They watch it again when they’re a little older and they see things that they never understood or didn’t comprehend. It’s definitely something that I feel like because of the design of it and because of the nature of the show, it’s something that can reach everybody in some kind of way.

Bernard David Jones: And I love that Jeremy [Bronson, the creator and Executive Producer] created these characters that kids can look up to. They can aspire to be the Mayor or Director of Communications. Some may not even know what that is. They may go home and Google, what is Director of Communications? I can do something like that? That’s cool. So I think to Jeremy’s testament, that is an amazing thing that he did was create these characters that grownups can laugh at. You can catch the grown-up jokes and then the kids can look and aspire to be those guys.

Q: What is it like on set?

Marcel Spears: I mean, I don’t like him [pointing to Bernard]. We do this for the cameras.

Bernard David Jones: Oh, it’s amazing. I mean, we have Yvette Nicole Brown. If you’ve ever met her, you’ve ever talked to her, you’ve ever seen her in anything…people are like “Yvette, we love you. We love you. We love you.” And I always say, Yvette, you know what, I hope that people love me the way that they love you and respect you, and she said, just be yourself and have a heart for people.

Marcel Spears: Dawg, you can’t walk nowhere with Yvette. They love her.

Bernard David Jones: And so, that’s been some of the best advice that she’s given, but she is literally like Big Sis. She’s like, “Don’t do that. Do that. Stay away from that. That right there, uh-unh.”

Marcel Spears: Straight up. Yvette helped me find an apartment. I was in New York at the time and then I went to San Diego. I was doing a play. She was like, I can go to the apartment. I can Face Time you and I’ll show you what it is. She is that kind of person.

Bernard David Jones: She helped pay for me to get to New York one time and she was like, “Well, I know where you work. You’ll give it back.” Then when I tried to give it back, she’s like, “Baby, just keep the money.” She just has a heart. That’s just her. When you see her in these interviews, it’s not Hollywood. It’s not fake. It is genuine. And Brandon, I mean, he’s such a great actor. He’s young, but his ability to be a leader, onscreen and off screen, is amazing.

And I think we’re blessed to have a leader in Brandon. He’s wise beyond his years. He’s a great actor. Julliard trained. But he’s a great friend. We hang out.

Marcel Spears: We actually hang. I’ve [known] Brandon for three years now. He’s the one who called me and told me that I got this job. He wasn’t supposed to call me and tell me that.

But it’s one of those situations too where I’m watching this young man grow into himself and taking on the position of being the number one and being the star of the show and really learning as he goes and being a servant leader and making sure that we’re all okay and taking care of us. I’m proud. It’s weird. I’ve only known him three years, but I feel like I’ve known him forever.

Bernard David Jones: And he’s under a lot of pressure. He’s the lead of an ABC show. The only comedy that ABC picked up [to premiere in the fall] this season and he’s the lead of it and he’s handing, handling it beautifully.

Marcel Spears: Straight up. And Lea’s like the sister of the group. She got three new brothers that she loves, but also doesn’t know if she wanted.

The thing I like about our show, or our cast, it’s a family. We have fun on set and the cool thing is the women are the pros in the situation, so…we make sure we look out for our girls, but they are bosses. Like, the women on this show are bosses. Lea’s been doing this for ten years. Yvette’s been doing it for twenty.

Bernard David Jones: They are vets. And we’re like, what’s going on? I mean, just to be in the presence of such professionals [with] just years in the business. From being like, relative newcomers to this whole thing yeah, his first TV show. Couldn’t tell, right? He’s so good.

Q: Are there any episodes coming up that you feel personally connected?

Bernard David Jones: For me, the episode that I connected to, that we’ve shot already, dealt with the boys having some sort of conflict and it just shows that even in the best friendships, or families, there may be times when you just don’t agree or you don’t like the way people handle things or you end up in a situation that’s not conducive to your friendship and you have to figure out a way to still love that person, but check them at the same time.

And I feel like that’s life, you know. I’m excited for you to see that episode because it’s a different side of my character. It’s a different side of T.K. and Courtney.

THE MAYOR - ABC's "The Mayor" stars Bernard David Jones as Jermaine Leforge. (Photo credit: ABC/Bob D'Amico)

Marcel Spears: I kind of agree. That episode talks a lot about respectability politics and Courtney is faced with a decision [to] either help his career or help his community and I feel like, as an actor, especially coming from, coming from the hood in New Orleans and going to Ivy League school like Columbia, I found myself in situations a lot where I felt like I had to choose between the people I loved and…what seemed to be the best thing for my career as an actor. Having that survivor’s remorse, that survivor’s guilt where you’re like, I’m in a position now to educate my family. I’m in a position now to help my family. I have a degree that nobody in my family has had before. What do I do with that information?

He is faced with honoring his family or helping further his career which could initially help his family, but it doesn’t always feel like that at first.

THE MAYOR - ABC's "The Mayor" stars Marcel Spears as T.K. Clifton. (Photo credit: ABC/Bob D'Amico)

Q: What does this show say for you to your younger selves?

Bernard David Jones: That your dreams can be actualized. You can actually have a dream, whatever that dream may be, if you work hard and you’re persistent, and you stay focused, it can come true. The world is literally available to you and no matter what anybody says, no matter what your situation is, you know, Marcel came from the hood. Patterson, New Jersey, and here I am all the way in Hollywood. Dreamed of it, wanted it, pursued it and God said, there you go.

Marcel Spears: It’s one of those things to where visibility matters and representation matters and when I was a kid, I was watching Martin and Fresh Prince and I’m seeing these young Black men be themselves and be somebody that I recognize and be cool and be fun and be intelligent and be articulate – that’s not something that you see all the time outside of scripted TV.

If all I see on the media is people who look like me – I don’t want to get too emotional – people who look like me getting in trouble or getting in situations where they’re hurt, and things like that…it’s good I feel to see a show where Black men are lifting each other up and are thriving and are challenging what those images might be, so it’s for your eight year old and for your twelve year old, it’s one of those things that I feel like is super important and I’m honored that I get a chance to be a part of that.

And we have fun. We have fun and we do it in a way that I feel does not belittle our intelligence and we do it in a way that definitely could be inspiring to somebody like me.

Bernard David Jones: And I love also just to piggy back on that, the family aspect of our show. You normally see mom, dad, two kids and it’s great, you know, but that’s not the family unit on our show. Our family unit is a woman who had a child young, but she didn’t just raise him. She kind of raised two other guys and so what does that look like in a community? Just being able to see a different type of Black family on television is amazing and the fact that ABC said we’re going to take a chance and do that, that just speaks to the mindset of the head of this network.

Marcel Spears: She raised his friends.

Bernard David Jones: And kudos to them for showing what we know in our communities. We know people like that, but how much does America know, so I think that’s been one of the blessings and the pleasures and the honor of doing this show is to show Black men doing something positive, uplifting each other and then the family unit being slightly different.

Photo Credit: ABC

Q : What is it like working with David Spade (he plays Ed Gunt)?

Marcel Spears: He’s actually way cooler in real life.

Bernard David Jones: He is way cooler. He is so sweet. He’s so like, “You guys are amazing. You guys are great. This show is awesome.” That’s David Spade. We were going to do ADR and ADR is where you go in and you do the vocal stuff that needs changing. So, David knew we were coming and he literally laid prostrate on the floor and we’re like, “David!” And he’s like, “I just wanted to get you guys.”

Marcel Spears: If like, a car horn was beeping while you were doing a line, you go and re-record the line. He was like, “Ahh!”

Bernard David Jones: “I just wanted to get you!” He’s great, man. From the first table read to now, he’s just been amazing. Very supportive. I went up to him, I said, David, you have a star on the Walk, the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He’s like, yeah, you know, but you got to pay the upkeep and all that. You have a star. You are David Spade.

Marcel Spears: He’s legit. He’s like, he’s the coolest cat I’ve ever met.

David, he is cool. He’s so good at being like, really snarky. The stuff that he’ll come up with on the fly. He’ll be reading the page and then he’ll make a side remark.

Next thing you know, it’s in the script next time we get it. Like, he’s so good. He’s sharp.

Marcel, Me and Bernard

Here is a sneak peek of an episode of The Mayor - Worming Their Way to Courtney's Heart. 

THE MAYOR (Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c on ABC. You can also watch On Demand or on the ABC app)

BERNARD DAVID JONES (“Jermaine Leforge”)

MARCEL SPEARS (“T.K. Clifton”)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent interview. I'll have to look for this show.
    slehan at juno dot com