Don’t let his stunning good looks fool you. NAACP Image Award–winning actor Lance Gross is as humble as he is handsome. The former male video vixen that has appeared in music videos for the likes of Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Kelis and Mary J. Blige has relied on nothing short of hard work to get where he is today. Lance’s roles in Tyler Perry productions, House of Payne and motion picture Meet The Browns is just the beginning for this former track star and Howard grad. For part two of our Men’s Issue, Clutch had the extreme pleasure of chatting up with this rising star while uncovering the intriguing, the interesting and the unusual…

Clutch: At what point did you know that you wanted to pursue acting?
Lance: I got a full track and field scholarship to Howard University. Acting had always been something that I was passionate about, but I was shy so I had to get over this shyness. Going into college I made the decision to major in theater, but when I told my coach, he said that the schedules were conflicting and that I had to make a choice. I chose track because it was paying for school, and I majored in film production and minored in theater. The thing is all through college I was kicking myself for not majoring in theater so I figured once I graduated, I would go to LA and pursue my dream of acting – and the rest is history.

Clutch: That’s uncommon for many people who set out to make a living on the screen. How did you get your big break?
Lance: I’ve been really blessed. My parents always told me that hard work pays off so I’ve always been a hard worker to get the things that I wanted. The funny thing is that I was in an acting class taught by Tasha Smith and she happened to be friends with Tyler Perry. One night he came to one of the classes and I was performing. He liked what he saw and he told Tasha that he loved my performance and wanted to work with me. I couldn’t believe it. One night Tasha called me with Tyler on the phone and he wanted me to go to Atlanta and audition for the show House of Payne. He basically picked me out of the class and put me on his show.

Clutch: Wow, that’s an amazing break. At that point, how long had it been since you’d left college?
Lance: It was about a year and a half out of college.

Clutch: That’s truly a lucky break.
Lance: It happened pretty quickly for me, but before then I had done some commercials and music videos. To get a lead in a show was a dream come true.

Clutch: Where do you see your career going?
Lance: The sky’s the limit for me. I want to have longevity in the entertainment industry. My focus right now is to do more dramatic films. I want to go off to win awards for my work too.

Clutch: Any new projects in the works?
Lance: Just got signed with WMA just today, so I’m on cloud nine right now.

Clutch: Congratulations.
Lance: Thanks, I’ve been so busy with the show. I’ve got one week left of taping then I’ll be out auditioning for other jobs, but for now It’s just been the show.

Clutch: Your skin is gorgeous! Do you have any beauty secrets or tips as to how we can keep our skincare game up?
Lance: I just keep it clean and moisturized; I don’t really have a routine at all.

Clutch: Really, so you’re just gifted?
Lance: I guess I got it from my Momma. (laughs)

Clutch: What’s the first thing you notice about a woman?
Lance: I’m an observer so I pay attention to a woman’s confidence. When they walk into a room, if they can control it without saying anything, it goes a long way. You don’t have to be the most beautiful girl but if you have that confidence about you, that’s a plus in my eyes. I’m really intrigued by that.

Clutch: You and Eva Marcille are a well-known item, how long has it been now?
Lance: We’ve been together a little over a year and a half. We’re pretty serious; we live together. She’s great.

She’s supporting me in my dreams and I support her in hers. We really mesh. We’re like in our own little bubble, in La La Land. Yeah, that’s my baby.

Clutch: That’s so sweet. You guys make a beautiful couple. So tell us, from your experience, what are the best and worst aspects of being a celeb?
Lance: It’s a dream come true for me. Just to have a fan base, it’s amazing to me. I love being a celebrity. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. The worst thing is that you give up some of your privacy being a celebrity. I mean you can be at a restaurant, and people know who you are. But in the end I still appreciate it so I guess it’s not really a bad thing for me because I’m thankful for everything.

Clutch: There’s an ongoing debate about African American actors getting passed up for roles by famous people from the music industry. How does it make you feel to compete with high profile rappers/singers for parts?
Lance: I’ve lost a lot of jobs to rappers who turned actors, but there are a lot of talented people who come from the music industry who cross over to the acting world.

Clutch: This is true. Switching gears, do you have any interesting or unusual hobbies?
Lance: I collect tennis shoes.

Clutch: How many pair do you have?
Lance: I have well over 150 pairs of shoes. Eva hates it (laughs). I take up her closet space with some of my shoes. I’m addicted to shoes. I have about 50 pair of shoes I’ve never worn.

Clutch: Yup, it sounds like you have a bona fide addiction.
Lance: I just love shoes! I guess that might be unusual.

Clutch: Yeah, it’s interesting and a little unusual. What’s your favorite TV show?
Lance: I think the Family Guy is funny. The writers on that show are the best writers ever. I’d love to work with them some day.

Clutch: I know what you mean. Stewie is sick.
Lance: Yeah, all the characters are funny.

Clutch: Reflecting on your journey, what’s the most valuable life lesson you’ve learned thus far?
Lance: Hard work pays off. If you have a dream, then you really have to work towards it. If you put in the work, you’ll get results. I’m finding that out in every aspect of my life.

Photo Credit: Kevyn Major Howard

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