Said best by producer and director Ivan Reitman, “A good actor is someone who knows how to take that part and make it real and make it honest and be effective in it…” and actor Anthony T. Solano truly embodies this. His resume includes Netflix’s Friends from College and Blue Bloods. Anthony also stars in Gray Ground, a web series about Bobby’s journey to find out why his date, Valerie, was arrested. He is also an executive producer for the web series.
Check out our interview with Anthony where he talks about Gray Ground, what’s next for him, and more below. Also, check out the first episode of Gray Ground right after.
1-At what moment did you first realize that you wanted to pursue an acting career?
I realized I wanted to pursue a career in acting some short while after getting my first gig. I was joking around about modeling at a time when I was done with my undergrad and couldn’t find a job. I took an acting class my first semester of freshman year but never acted before and actually never had any interest in the career, but that of professional football. I studied Youth Development & was on a path to be a social worker. But God stepped in. After taking 6 courses every semester & completing my B.S. in 3 years including a semester abroad(Unversidad de Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain), I came back ready to complete my MSW and while on campus during preseason football, I was told that my grades didn’t matriculate from Spain. I was sent home. A few months later, I had my first audition after posting a few pictures from the fashion show I modeled for on ModelMayhem.com. So, I drove up to Boston (was living in Manchester, CT at the time) and I landed the role, playing identical twins, as the lead(s). The rest is history.
2-Who is your favorite actor/actress?
Some of my favorite actors, whilst I have many, are Forrest Whitaker & Sidney Poitier. I love Leonardo DiCaprio’s work & Peter Dinklage’s as well. Michael K. Williams is a monster. James McAvoy. Split was off the chain, performance wise. Let’s be real. James Gandolfini was a madman. God bless his soul. Angela Bassett, Tracee Elliss Ross, Tichina Arnold. Did anybody see How I Got Into College? List is endless. Will Smith. Brilliant. Extremely under-appreciated when it comes to acting skills I mean. Pursuit of Happyness? Let’s be real. I read Chris Gardner’s book too BTW. Anyways, Forrest leads my list because of his malleability. This man literally vanquishes behind every character and becomes this fresh, pure earthenware & terra cotta blend in full form that shifts and shapes for each storyline. Because he’s not a traditional “Good looking, Hollywood sell,” he gets remised when it comes to rewards and gigs. And that bothers me. Sidney. Because it’s Sidney. Between him and King Belafonte, they hand carved the opportunities we have as Black male LEAD actors. The shooking and jiving of times past was gone. Although that still occurs in almost every production known to Hollywood, at least they request that, without Sidney’s chops and tenacity I’d only have an opportunity to sweep a floor and smile real big. And the boy was MEAN with it! What a great actor. A Raisin in the Sun was the first play/movie tandem I watched as a sophomore in high school and I’ll always be grateful to my Mrs. Chechhini for that. Thank you, Mrs. Chec!
3-Out of all your projects, which is your favorite?
I must say, my favorite projects are my first, Your Girl is Mine & Gray Ground. #YGIM is my favorite because it was my first. Jacqueline brought me in, without a lick of experience, never been on set, never nothing. Not including my acting class some 5 years prior, I literally knew nothing. So, to be given the opportunity that legitimately changed my life, I mean there’s no words. I was working as a paraprofessional and studying for my MBA in Hartford, CT Monday to Friday. I’d commute every weekend up to Boston(Matapan, I see you!). So yeah, YGIM is my favorite. Gray Ground comes in a close second, because of how it came together and what turned out to be the second most important film experience I ever had. In which, I was responsible for so much as the lead and EP. From casting, to coordinating, to everything under the funding umbrella including transportation, catering, props, film festival fees, etc. Every actor who wants to take their career serious and to the next level MUST experience the full spectrum, beyond schooling, of producing a full-fledged, high quality film project. What little foothold I have regarding industry experience, I promise it’s a necessity and will further your level of career sanity and projection.
4-How did you become part of the Gray Ground web series?
The question that keeps on giving. 3 years ago, I was extremely frustrated with my then agency, lack of auditions and just stagnation in the industry. I fell in love with this thing called acting and it’s taken over my life. Because of that love, I took a keen interest in studying film. Of all sorts, from novelas(If you know, you know), cheap productions to Hollywood classics. I came across this show, The Missing, on Starz and was enamored with not only the performances, but the script, lighting, storyline, direction, I mean it was absolutely breathtaking. Too dark, IMO, to have received any major awards, is one of the best TV shows of its kind, of all time. If you haven’t, go watch. Simultaneously, I prayed one day, and saw on Instagram that Dunn had just finished a project that landed on Amazon. I reached out and said that I was looking to create something to help me, as a man, understand women and to be directed/written by a woman. After all, women are the source of life and it’s a shame they’re so suppressed in this industry. We met for coffee and the rest is history.
5-Are there any similarities between you and your character, Bobby Braxton?
Absolutely there are similarities between Bobby and I. One of the most shocking is that we look just alike. Moreover, the tenacity to pursue our heart is arguably the most similar characteristic that we share. Throughout the series, you’ll note many points in which Bobby had a chance to look for another chick, hit his old ways and give up on love. Or the opportunity for love. In my case, that same tenacity to chase love, whether it be for my children, career or teaching, I don’t back down and push until I’ve reached the limits. For said reason, I feel I’ve fallen so deep in love with acting because there’s no limit. This is the one career where you can continuously get better until the day you die, unlike athletics.
6-Where do you see yourself this time next year?
This time next year, I see myself as a proud husband and father, a series regular and have my docu-style production company fully loaded with a slate of projects ready to roll out. Perhaps working alongside Black Talent TV.
7-How has fatherhood impacted you so far and how do you think it’ll help/hinder your career?
Fatherhood has impacted me in countless ways, but most profoundly a new sense of selflessness. I’ve always considered myself selfless—I’d do stuff for family, volunteer at soup kitchens, homeless outreach, serve at my church, those kinds of things. But selflessness on a whole new level. It’s an experience I can’t quite explain, after being asked hundreds of times, still can’t explain the love of being an active black father. Especially after not having mine be active, it’s just incredible. I believe being a new father will only help me establish being more grounded & dedicated to new roles without the fear.
8-What is your dream role/project?
My dream project, is more like a dream trilogy, is to play a character, almost like McAvoy did in Split, but have him switch personalities throughout. Maybe even a movie that develops into a TV series if you will. I’m not quite sure. I kind of just made that up and hope nobody takes it. But yeah, something like that. As for stars to work alongside? Sheesh. Too many. Not even gonna go down that road. I just know that I wanna keep learning from the greats and be alongside many. And yes. I’d LOVE to be an X-Man. Never thought of who, I’m a real fan mind you. Grew up collecting comics and cards, keeping them in plastic, all of that. So, you new fans, who only know about the movies, I feel some type of way. But yes, I’d love to be a comic book character. Maybe even a new world Meteor Man. Somebody reading this, make that happen for ya boy!
9-What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a career in acting?
Be absolutely positive you want to pursue this career. Be willing to be told no, work for countless hours without recognition and most of all, have a solid sense of self. Love the process and all else will fall into place. This is a beautiful career that I promise you, had I not fallen in love with, never would have done! But I’m more than grateful for what this dream job has brought to me and where it’s taken me. Absolutely love acting, what it entails and wouldn’t trade it for the world. If that sounds like an oxymoron statement, know that acting causes bouts of insanity. 😉 You gotta love it!
10-What is NEXT for Anthony T. Solano?
This summer, I will be a part of the hit drama Jett which will be airing on Cinemax. Be sure to tune in, so that season 2 my character can come back! Moreover, I’ll continue auditioning, working on my craft and producing documentaries. You can always keep up to date at my social media @AnthonyTSolano across all channels & my website http://www.anthonytsolano.com.
Photo Credit: AnthonyTSolano.com