Kam Williams | 5/9/2012, 9:20 a.m.
Born in Silver Spring, Md., on Aug. 3, 1973, Michael Ealy majored in English at the University of Maryland before heading to New York City, where he performed in several stage productions, including the off-Broadway hits “Joe Fearless” and “Whoa Jack.”
After finding his breakout screen role as Ricky Nash in “Barbershop” and “Barbershop 2,” Ealy rapidly rose through the ranks as one of Hollywood’s emerging young actors.
Since then, he’s starred opposite Kate Beckinsale in “Underworld Awakening” and opposite Matt Dillon, Idris Elba and Hayden Christensen in the action flick “Takers.”
He was personally picked by Will Smith to play his younger brother in “Seven Pounds.” He’s also portrayed a Buffalo Soldier in the Spike Lee World War II epic “Miracle at St. Anna,” and appeared in “For Colored Girls” with Kimberly Elise, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg and Phylicia Rashad.
In television, Ealy is set to co-star in the new detective series, “Common Law,” which debuts on the USA Network on May 11. His other TV credits include stints on “The Good Wife,” “Californication” and “FlashForward.” As for accolades, a stellar performance on the Showtime miniseries “Sleeper Cell” earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
In addition, he was cast by Oprah Winfrey to star opposite Halle Berry in the made-for-TV movie “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” landing the first of his three NAACP Image Award nominations for his sterling performance in the picture. Here, he talks about playing Dominic in his latest picture, “Think Like a Man,” Steve Harvey’s battle-of-the-sexes comedy, which is currently No.1 at the box office.
What interested you in “Think Like a Man?”
Honestly, it was the first romantic comedy that I liked. I’d kind of avoided them for awhile because I never felt that any of them were really smart enough. But when I read this script, I genuinely fell in love with the characters, especially my own. So, I just wanted to be a part of it.
How flattering or unflattering to the image of the black male are the “types” that the actors are asked to portray in this film?
That’s another great thing about this picture. Yes, the cast is predominantly African American, but color is never really an issue in the film. It’s rarely brought up since, at the end of the day, these guys are going through universal relationship issues that anybody can relate to. So, while the characters like “The non-committer,” “The Player,” and “The Dreamer” might be recognizable as common stereotypes, color isn’t involved.
Did you do any preparation for your role as a food service worker by spending time in restaurants?
The irony is that I spent five years as a waiter at a restaurant in New York City at the beginning of my acting career. So, I had a little bit of experience in food service.
Fortunately, I didn’t actually have to prepare anything on camera in the movie, which saved me from having to take any cooking classes. (Chuckles)
How did your parents feel about you becoming a struggling actor after putting you through college?