Anthony Anderson branches out beyond comedy

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    Anthony Anderson at Diana Lopez Birthday Bash on May 22, 2010 in

    INDIANAPOLIS (NNPA)–Whatever actor Anthony Anderson does in front of the camera, viewers can count on it to be unforgettable.

    For nearly 20 years, Anderson has had stand out roles on television and in films, easily making audiences laugh in comedy formats such as “The Bernie Mac Show” and “Barbershop,” and taking them on a range of emotions with dramatic roles on programs like “Law & Order” and “The Shield.”

    Recently, the actor, comedian and writer stopped in Indianapolis to serve as emcee for the annual United Negro College Fund Masked Ball, which included singer Chaka Khan and raised funds for college students.

    During his visit, Anderson talked to the Recorder about his career. Last week’s appearance was his first visit to Indianapolis, and he noted that residents live up to Indiana’s reputation of having Hoosier hospitality.

    “You definitely have hospitality in abundance,” said Anderson, laughing.

    Born and raised in Compton, Calif., Anderson said as a child, he wanted to be an actor, a lawyer or a player for the Dallas Cowboys football team.

    “I realized that if I chose acting, I could be all those things and whatever else I wanted to be,” he said.

    While pursuing his acting career, Anderson attended the High School for the Performing Arts, where he was trained by actors such as Indiana native Avery Brooks, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. He earned first place in the NAACP’s ACTSO Awards with his performance of the classic monologue from “The Great White Hope.”

    That performance, along with his dedication to his craft, earned him an arts scholarship to Howard University.

    In giving advice to aspiring actors, Anderson said “education is key” and that everyone is blessed with talent, they just need to find a place where they can hone and showcase it.

    “It is also important to believe in yourself and to be true to who you are,” Anderson said. “Bill Cosby once said, ‘I don’t know what the keys to success are, but I know the key to failure is trying to please everyone.’”

    Anderson first gained attention as one of Jim Carrey’s sons in “Me, Myself, and Irene,” and soon appeared in popular films such as “Scary Movie 3,” “Barbershop,” “Kangaroo Jack,” “Exit Wounds,” “Two Can Play That Game,” and “Malibu’s Most Wanted.”

    Anderson also has had major roles on network and cable television, playing recurring characters on the shows “Law & Order,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” “The Shield” and “Guys With Kids.”

    In 2008, he was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his role in “Law & Order.”

    Some of his most memorable roles can be found in the Dream Works’ blockbuster “Transformers,” and Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning feature, “The Departed,” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson.

    Anderson said the passion that comes in his acting, whether it involves comedy or drama, comes from actual situations in his life.

    “You can only go to the well as deep as life experiences have taken you,” he said.

    Anderson said his favorite role was as Antwon Mitchell on “The Shield,” which was a departure from the mostly comedic appearances he had made up to that time.

    “Before then I had been typecast as the comedy relief of things, but I was able to show another side of myself in ‘The Shield,’” Anderson said. “That was the first role where I actually called my friends and associates and asked them to watch and tell me what they thought.”

    Currently, Anderson can be seen in the HBO drama “Treme,’” which is set in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina. Early next year he will be featured as host of the new NBC game show “Wall of Fame,” which he describes as an updated version of “Hollywood Squares” where contestants can win up to $150,000.

    Although Anderson seeks to be a well-rounded actor, humor will always remain an essential part of both his work and his existence.

    “It’s imperative we maintain our sense of humor, because that’s what keeps us sane,” he said. “If we can’t laugh in the face of our ordeals, we can go crazy. Laughter can change everyone’s entire mood.”

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