Donald Faison is surprisingly sexy. I was Clueless.
Waiting in EBONY.com’s lobby, the actor, whose career has spanned three decades, bares an uncanny resemblance to, well his younger self— you know the handsome golden brown man-child we collectively fell for in “Waiting to Exhale” and “New Jersey Drive”. The thing is, Faison is all grown up.
At 38, he’s an accomplished big and small screen success. The native New Yorker has more than 40 credits to his name, most notably, at least thus far, is his nine-year stint on 'Scrubs', a comedy-drama about medical students at a teaching hospital. The gig didn’t pluck him out of obscurity, but definitely solidified his red carpet status.
But unlike some actors, the father-of-four isn’t coasting off syndication checks. With upcoming nuptials (he’s getting hitched to Cacee Cobb, the BFF and former assistant of superstar Jessica Simpson) to pay for and babies to push through college, Faison isn’t ready to press pause.
Thank God for cable. Gone are the days where the four major networks held all the employment cards. And Faison is taking advantage of the opportunity. He’s currently starting his second season on &'The Exes'; a situational comedy on TV Land, which co-stars small screen vets Kristen Johnston and Wayne Knight. And that’s not his only job.
Faison is one of a few Tinseltown players who isn’t simply seen, they’re heard. His resume is choc-full of voice-only stints, including roles on popular animated series, such as 'The Boondocks' and 'Robot Chicken'. Nowadays, in between planning a wedding and raising his children of course, Faison is plotting his next big coup: producing his own animated series. Why? It’s cost-effective. It’s fun. And it’s his passion. Apparently, he isn’t clueless about how to keep the cash following in Hollywood.
EBONY.com gets Faison to talk that talk.
EBONY: Rumor has it that you were supposed to star in 'The Boondocks'?
Donald Faison: Yes, I’ve done different voices on the show. I auditioned to be Huey, the one with the Afro, originally and I got the part. I was working on 'Scrubs' at the time and the network wouldn’t allow me to do it. But, Aaron McGruder called me in to start doing guest work. I got to voice a Reginald Hudlin inspired character and Catcher Freeman, a slave and hero. It’s controversial television, and that is what breaks stereotypes.
EBONY: Why "The Exes"?
DF: It’s awesome. I’m working with individuals who’ve been on successful television for a really long time, so it’s really great to go to work with people who know what it takes. I love it. It’s about three divorced guys who are living in the same apartment. Their landlord is also their divorce attorney, and she did a really bad job with their divorces, felt bad about it and put them in an apartment. So it’s like 'Odd Couple' meets 'Three’s Company' or 'Living Single'.
EBONY: What attracted you your role?
DF: I love working, one. And I really wanted to do something that was different from 'Scrubs'. I’ve never done a multi-camera show, which requires you to rehearse for a week, kind of like a play, before; I grew up on it with & 'The Cosby Show'; and 'Cheers', which are all multi-camera productions. I wanted to try it and see if I could survive in that realm. We’re shooting until the end of August.
EBONY: Rumor has it that you were recently a real-life intern.
DF: My mom put me in an after school program when I was a kid and that really piqued my interest in animation— I got to play with all of my “Star Wars” action figures and film them fighting. Now, I’m into stop motion animation. I started taking classes and I interned at a studio for a couple of months to learn the craft. The goal is to create a cartoon or something in animation. I think it’s a great way to learn how to direct and produce and you don’t necessarily have to spend as much money. And I can control everything— you know the puppets are only a few inches tall! It’s a cheaper way to go to film school.
EBONY: So you’ve done a lot of voices. How do you create them?
DF: When you’re a kid you try to mimic all of your favorite actors, so that’s where it comes from and it’s not that different from my natural voice. You just elongate everything and talk slow.
EBONY: What’s one of the best lessons you’ve learned in Hollywood?
DF: I first started working when I was young so you think the money is going to come forever.