360 Magazine is always looking for up and coming creators just about to make the breakthrough to total stardom. We think actor Marcel Spears, who’s best known for his time on The Neighborhood, is just about to make that breakthrough. We we’re lucky enough to speak to Spears about his work and what’s to come for the up and coming actor.
How much have you enjoyed your time on The Neighborhood?
I can’t really quantify just how much joy this show has brought me. I get to wake up every day and do what I love, with people that I genuinely have fun working with. I am having the best time.
What’s it been like working with Cedric the Entertainer?
Working with Cedric really has matured me as an artist and as a businessman. The benefit of working with someone of Cedric’s caliber is you can’t help but to bring your best. He is a teacher, a jokester, a leader, and a mentor – all in one. It is exactly what I would have dreamed it would be like.
How has New Orleans and New York shaped you as an artist and performer?
When I was in graduate school at Columbia University, my mentor, Brandon Dirden, said to me, “don’t let them train your grannie out of you.” Essentially, this meant to not forget my roots as I grow as an artist. New Orleans is my base, my ‘roux’. It is where all my raw materials as an actor are rooted. My deepest joys, tragedies, and triumphs are there. Growing up in a city with so much life will always be evident in my work. I get my flavor from NOLA. New York gave me a place to prove myself. It is a hard city as its reputation has warned so many artists before me. You really can make it anywhere if you can make it there. New York is where I cut my teeth. I am grateful for my time in both places.
If you could work alongside any actor/actress dead or alive who would it be?
I have a very long hit list of artists I want to work with, but I’ll give you just a few: Wendell Pierce, Viola Davis, Aunjanue Ellis, Anthony Mackie, Billy Porter, Daniel Radcliffe, Sarah Paulson, Brian Tyree Henry. It is a very long list, but I do hope to slowly check people off as I go on.
How important do you think it is for shows like The Neighborhood to address social issues like systemic racism? Does it make you proud to be on a show that addresses these issues?
Nina Simone said, “an artist’s duty is to reflect the times” and I have kept that in the back of my mind in every job I have ever done. Whether I’m working on a completely ridiculous comedy or when I get the chance to do heavy dramatic roles I always ask myself, “what is this role saying about us right now?” I’m so incredibly proud to be on a show that has the ability to bring laughter and unpack really challenging issues. I think all great sitcoms have been able to do that. I’m honored to be a part of a show that holds a mirror up to our audience in the hope that we see each other a little more clearly each episode.
What’s next for Marcel Spears?
Everything. I want to do so much. I am writing, I want to direct, I want to produce, I am pursuing more dramatic roles so I can flex that muscle as an artist. I am so inspired by all of my peers and all of the work I’m seeing. I am ready to take on more projects, and really show what I can do.