For nearly 20 years, Shemar Moore has been making the ladies drool. And if he has his way, we’ll all be salivating for another couple of decades.
Moore will tell you himself how drastically life changed for him back in April of 1994, when he first graced the small screen as Malcolm Winters on the classic CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, and he hasn’t stopped since.
EBONY.com talks with Moore about his role on that same network’s police drama Criminal Minds, his staying power and why George Clooney, Will Smith and Jamie Foxx better watch their backs.
EBONY: You are a loyalist when it comes to series that you star in—The Young and the Restless, and now, Criminal Minds. What is it that keeps you?
Shemar Moore: A paycheck.
EBONY: Good answer!
SM: Let’s just keep it 100! I like to make money, I like to have nice things. But I love to act, I love to tell stories. I’ve been blessed with a 19-year career. My original dream was to be a professional baseball player. And I’m 43 now. If I had made it as a professional baseball player, my career would be over right now. Even if I were Derek Jeter, my career would be over. But as an actor, I’ve been blessed to do what I do for 19 years, which is tell stories and entertain people, make pretend and make believe come to life.
EBONY: Complete answer there, Shemar.
SM: Like I said, once upon a time I was shy. Now I’m not.
EBONY: That’s a familiar narrative with actors. Did acting break you of your shyness?
SM: Acting is therapeutic. I say I’m not shy, but… Acting is a very vulnerable experience, and you’ve got to be really confident to put yourself out there to be judged. With that comes insecurities. I still have shy qualities but nobody would believe that, just because we’re in the forefront and I can talk a lot of mess and I can run my mouth. But I still want people to like me. [As an actor], you still want to please people, you still want to do a good job. Every time you’re on a set and they say “action,” you’re putting yourself out there. Somebody might like what you’re saying or doing or might not. And you can’t do it for them. You hope to win them, you hope to please them or entertain them, but at first you do it for yourself. It really is a form of therapy.
EBONY: Nineteen years is rather surreal, right? Feels like just yesterday you were the fresh face on the soap opera block.
SM: I’m glad you remember. There are some people like, “What’s Young and the Restless? What’s Soul Train?” There are Criminal Minds fans that are telling me, “Oh, my mom loves you!” And I’m like, “Wait a minute. You’re like 11. You weren’t even thought of when I started this business.” But I’d like to think good black don’t crack, so I’m trying my hardest not to crack.
EBONY: Undeniably you’re an incredibly good looking man. That’s usually the first or second sentence people write about you when they report about your career. Has that been a challenge? In the same way that, say, actresses have those challenges?
SM: If you could see me right now, I’m not all that good looking. I just woke up, I just finished my morning coffee. I need to take a shower, I need to work out, I need to shake out the cobwebs, all that. My point is, I’ve gotten a lot of attention for how I look through the years and people ask me all the time, “Do you know that you’re sexy?” or “what’s it like to be sexy?” or “do you know that you’re attractive?” And everybody tries to come up with the perfect answer. But here’s my answer: I will never tell you that I’m sexy.
There are days when I feel confident, and I feel like, “OK, this outfit looks nice, I look good, I’m in shape.” But I’m never going to walk out the house trying to be sexy, because that to me is cheesy and not attractive. You’ll never hear me say that I’m a star, you’ll never hear me say that I’m sexy.
Do I know that I’m attractive? Yeah, I know that my mom and dad did right by me. I watch what I eat, I work out, it’s a way of life… and if it means that I get attention from women or it’s easier to get a date, cool. For everybody who thinks that I’m sexy or great, there are people who I’m not their type, for whatever reason. I’m not going to win everybody. If you like what you see on the surface, great. But what I’m more proud of is what I have underneath all that. What I have is my life experience. When you watch me act, if you like what you see, cool. But hopefully when I deliver lines, you pay attention to the feeling that I’m trying to portray. I don’t just want to be known for one thing.
EBONY: If you could script the next 19 years of your career, what might that look like?
SM: The best way to describe my life and my career is in two words: Who Knew? I didn’t and I don’t. I now know what I’m going to do for the rest of my life as a professional. And that is, I love to tell stories and I love to act. I’ve been blessed from Young and the Restless to Criminal Minds and Soul Train to Diary of a Mad Black Woman to Brothers and everything else in between.
I’m now living a dream; I’m now doing something that people wish they could do, and I have so many supporters that follow me and root for me and love me. And even though I’ve been in this game 19 years, I honestly feel like I’m just beginning. I want to chase down Jamie Foxx. I want to chase down George Clooney. Brad Pitt. Jeremy Renner. Anthony Hopkins. Will Smith. All those guys.
I don’t want to be them, but I would love an opportunity to have a career like them. It’s not about being a movie star. In my younger years, when I first started, I wanted to be a movie star. I wanted people to know my name, I wanted to have my name up in lights. And I still want those things, but that’s not my goal. My goal is to be well respected for the stories that I tell.
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EBONY Entertainment Editor