The life of an athlete can appear to be long, but when zoomed in upon, it is really just a blink of an eye.
For Chicago O.G. and three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade, 39, retirement has opened up a wide array of possibilities for his post-playing career. Co-hosting alongside the venerable team of Ernie, Kenny, Chuck, and Shaq for NBA on TNT?
Getting into producing projects like Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love and sharing the story about Manley High School and its journey as the first Black American high school rowing team in this country?
Taking on an A.I.-controlled glass box and helping people and families in need to change their own future?
Ah, hell yes!
Dwyane Wade will be bringing the heat on TBS’ The Cube—which aired its premiere episode earlier this week—as the show’s host. Based on a British format, The Cube challenges teams of two to successfully complete a series of deceptively easy games—like emptying a box of balls or counting rapidly moving squares—with the promise of winning a $250,000 prize. With nine lives to complete seven challenges, it is a chance for these competitors to create a significant change in their own lives.
Wade, who first signed on to the 11-episode season as an executive producer, was hesitant at first when approached to host. Never one to back down from a challenge, the future NBA hall of fame inductee faced trepidation head on and stepped into the role after realizing the good that he could do for contestants as their “One Shot”.
A few days before the premiere, Dwyane Wade spoke with EBONY about his new gig, the “opportunity” that comes with being a contestants’ “One Shot,” and offers some early Father’s Day advice to parents looking to provide teachable moments anyway they can.
Congratulations on hosting TBS’s The Cube, Dwyane. After watching a few episodes in preview, you and the competitive AI are putting these competitors through the ringer. How do you feel about the show?
Dwyane Wade: I’m excited about it. So much work went in [producing The Cube]. We shot it about nine months ago and to be able to see the marketing and the excitement come together has been great. [Hosting] is something that I never knew I could do, but I’m happy that I gave it a shot because those are experiences that I walked away with.
What first attracted you to becoming the host of The Cube in the first place?
Getting the opportunity to watch it when it aired in the UK was the catalyst. When it got adapted here in the US, I was going to just be the executive producer. But once I delved into it, it became one of the things I focused on—the game show space—and I felt like this could be a great show for families. It has heart, laughter, a great energy, and from a competitive standpoint, it is a challenge. When it was brought to my attention that they wanted me to also host it, I talked it over with the team and we thought that The Cube could be special. It could be a show that we really build upon and have around for a while.
What sort of game shows did you see yourself on as a kid growing up in Chicago?[Laughs] Man, back in the day it was Double Dare for me. I grew up in Chicago with The Bozo Show [on WGN] and I used to watch it before I went to school. I wanted to be on that show because, all you had to do was throw these balls in this bucket and you can change your family’s life? At that moment, I thought it was right. Never in a million years did I think that I was going to be hosting a show that can help families do the same thing that I wished my family had an opportunity to do. It’s just so cool, man, because you never know how full circle life is. Something that I grew up wanting to do, I now get an opportunity to help families do it.
For the competitors, they win $250,000 if they can conquer the show’s AI and that is nothing to sneeze at. What was it like to see these people go after their dreams? What was your most memorable moment interacting with them?
Answering the last question, first, once you get a chance to sit and talk with these people, you get into their life a little bit. You get to ask about their family and why they’re on the show. Now, you’re emotionally connected and tied to them and it was emotionally resonating. I got a chance to learn about each of these contestants and we shared some similar issues that are in our lives that will come out in some of these episodes. It was cool to be able to watch them go in and compete, and watch all of the effort they put into it and what being on the show meant to them. It was just great!
There’s a moment in the game where contestants can call on you as their “One Shot” should they need help on The Cube. No spoilers, but, was there anything that happened this season that gave you the most pressure?
No pressure, bro [laughs]. It gave me an opportunity. It’s not easy for anyone to come off the sideline and make a shot right away in one try—especially with money on the line. In The Cube, you can lose a life if you’re unable to complete the challenge. Add in that production can go on for three or four hours, and you’ve still got to be ready to come off the sideline and do it. But, as for anything that happened with me, let me just say that I represented well.
The stakes on The Cube are real and with no extra lives offered—do you have any advice for parents who are looking to have this show be a teachable moment and encouragement for their kids?
I feel from a parenting standpoint you have an opportunity to experience so many things, and if you have those opportunities—share them with your kids. Travel the world, book your tickets and hotel early, and find different ways to experience life. Coming out of the inner city of Chicago, basketball enabled me a chance to play and experience the world a lot. There’s so much life out here and I want to help others enjoy it as much as we can. Life is hard enough, man. It’s hard to know how to be in life and try to be perfect, and that’s why a show like this is important to me because it brings joy. It’s going to bring families together.
That segues into the last question about The Cube, Dwyane. What impact do you hope this has on the families who participate and the viewers who plan to watch?
That’s the goal, right. We hope that families can find the joy in it and I hope this brings families together to laugh, joke, and have a good time. Sit together and talk about how you would beat The Cube or what you would do with the $250,000, laugh at the bad singing, or gasp at the cliffhangers. There are so many twists, turns and emotions throughout the show, you can learn about these people and their stories, see the empathy and compassion in them as well.
For me, this show is not just about The Cube. Sure, it is one aspect of it, but the relationships that you will see between husband and wife, brother and sister—you become connected and attached to that. I think it is so refreshing to see and when those doors to The Cube open, I am excited for you all to get a chance to experience it.
(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Kevin L. Clark is an editor and screenwriter who covers the intersection of music, pop culture and social justice. Follow him @KevitoClark.