Anthony Anderson is playing house these days as Gary, a stay-at-home father of four, on NBC’s comedy Guys with Kids. Offscreen, the real-life hubby and father of two has become a marquee fave during his 16-year career. Whether he’s busting guts in cult classics like Two Can Play That Game and Me, Myself & Irene or chasing bad guys in Law & Order or The Departed, Anderson delivers. The Compton, California, native opens up about fatherhood and being a film/TV producer.
How much of the show Guys with Kids mirrors your real life?
There are a few things I’ve contributed to the script by sharing experiences or conversations I had with my mother and how she disciplined me as a child. For example, there was a scene where I have my son on one of those [safety harnesses]. Now, I’ve never had them on my children but when I was about 11, my mother had me and my two brothers attached to one another on a dog leash. Imagine seeing that on a black child back then and all the stares and comments she received. My mom didn’t care; she was like, “Y’all don’t know—these are some bad mofos!”
Living in Tinseltown, do your kids have a different upbringing from yours?
I work in Hollywood, but we don’t live in that world. I discipline my kids because they will not be an embarrassment to me. Of course, they have [luxuries] I didn’t have, but whether they like it or not, it is paramount that they go to college—get a master’s or Ph.D. That’s the bare minimum, especially when my wife is currently completing hers and eventually I’ll return to finish my bachelor’s degree. I’m not their safety net. I will help them as best I can without enabling them.
You’ve been busy behind the scenes.
My partner, [television writer and comedian] Royale Watkins, and I are co-producers of the Mixtape Comedy Show and we’re shooting a TV One special. Also, I’m an executive producer of a pilot about South African comedy called You Laugh But It’s True as well as The Spirited Actor, a reality show where we take 10 actors from Nigeria and Ghana, put them in a New Jersey brownstone, and have them compete. Africa is an untapped market—and I had the opportunity to do something meaningful for some artists.
How do you continue expanding your brand?
Part of building a brand is diversification and appealing to various people, creeds, religions, and so forth. I never felt threatened being labeled the “comedic actor.” But before that was the only label I could be associated with I had to step back, reinvent, and do other roles. I want longevity, which means I must have the courage to turn left before anyone else does. I’m Puffy, [my career] is my remix, and I’m loving it.