One of America’s beloved cable networks, TV Land, continues with a string of popular sitcoms that showcase relatable slice-of-life scenarios.
One such show is The Soul Man (airs Wednesdays, 10pm/9pm Central) starring Cedric The Entertainer (Original Kings of Comedy, Barbershop movie franchise) and Niecy Nash (TV’s Reno 911, Clean House).
In his role, Cedric, as Boyce “The Voice” Ballentine, a former R&B crooner has returned to his less glamorous hometown to pastor his father’s church along with the ready-for-primetime first lady, wife Lolli, a beauty salon maven with a penchant for high heels, tight clothing and an appetite for the glitz and glam of the Las Vegas lifestyle they’ve abandoned.
Coupled with a spirited teenage daughter, a trifling brother and by-the-book father, the Ballentine household is a recipe for delicious family humor, set in a faith-focused community of opinionated parishioners.
Actor John Beasley plays is Boyce’s father “Barton,” Big Daddy Ballentine. His rock-of-Gibraltar brawn is the steady covering when hints of night life gone by collide with heavenly calling. All said --The Soul Man hits the mark without being preachy or pretentious.
During a recent interview Beasley (The Apostle, Walking Tall, The Sum of All Fears, The General’s Daughter, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, HBO’s Treme, TV’s Everwood and Judging Amy) offered these insights.
“I’ve been acting since high school and did a lot of my acting in Omaha; I still do community theatre [there]. I always knew that I could do it (acting) on a professional level but raising two children, two boys in Omaha, it took a while before I was in a position to say to my wife, ‘ hey listen, I need to do this.’ With her support, I was able to go off to Minneapolis and work at the age of 45, leaving a pretty decent job with the Union Pacific Railroad. Stepping out, some people would say, foolishly to pursue a dream. But I just felt that I could do it and my wife felt that I could do it so she lent her support and things took off in Minneapolis.” He says his enduring love to his wife is the reason he began acting so late in the game.
“I think the success of our marriage is due to the fact that I didn’t start (acting) until late. That decision really played a big part in maintaining a marriage. I think had I done it at an earlier age, the marriage might not have lasted this long. But starting at the age of 45, I was already settled and established in our relationship so it’s been a great ride. She’s a wonderful woman.”
“Comedy has always been a big part of my life though my film and TV work have always been serious. On stage I’ve been able to do comedic roles. I’ve done all of August Wilson’s plays and he had a great sense of humor. A couple of his characters [I’ve played] like ‘Turnbull” from Jitney’ and ‘Ole Joe’ from‘Radio Golf ’among others have allowed me to do my comedy on stage, Beasley added.
He continues, “The Soul Man is really exciting because the public and the casting people get to see a different side of me. I’ve always thought I was funny; people who know me think I’m funny… but this is the first opportunity for me to show it. I like making people laugh. I’m just having a ball [on this show] and I think this is a turning point in my career. Speaking of turning points, I’ve had a couple in my career such as my role in The Apostle (1997) alongside Robert Duvall. That role (Beasley was cast as “Brother C. Charles Blackwell,” a lay minister in a small country town) brought a whole new audience for me and it really kind of opened up Los Angeles to me. I was working in Chicago when I got the audition; it was a success. It was a small film but everybody in the industry got a chance to see it. I knew it was life changing at that time. I think The Soul Man is also a life changing experience. I see it taking me to another level. The reviews have been excellent and I’ve gotten some strong recognition. The LA Times called me a ‘pro’ and that’s really flattering. I’m happy about that.
Beasely and Cedric appear to really mesh while working together in The Soul Man.
“ Oh yeah… we can talk and listen to each other which play a very important part in how the show goes. I think it’s that believability that works between the two of us,” Beasle said.
Beasley has two adult sons: Tyron and Michael, both actors. Michael will be seen this October in the new Denzel Washington film, Flight, from Paramount Pictures. There is more at www.Talk2SV.com