Before our intrepid TV Club correspondents traveled to this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour, we asked readers to submit questions that we could pose to the TV pros attending the event. (And we made one up ourselves.) With those questions and the answers they prompted, we bring you the TV Club Questionnaire.
Morris Chestnut first caught the attention of moviegoers alongside Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding Jr. in John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood. But his portrayal of ill-fated track phenom Ricky Baker wasn’t the actor’s screen debut: A year prior to Boyz N The Hood, he made his TV bow in the syndicated horror anthology Freddy’s Nightmares. Chestnut has been a regular presence in theaters and living rooms ever since, alternating turns in The Perfect Guy, The Brothers, and the Best Man franchise with stints on American Horror Story, Nurse Jackie, and V. This fall, he stars as Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr., the namesake private pathologist of Fox’s new medical procedural, Rosewood.
If you could be working on any other television series currently on the air, which one would it be, and why?
Morris Chestnut: [Laughs.] Empire.
AVC: What type of role do you think you’d play?
MC: I would come in and play a music producer who gets in a little bit of trouble with the law, and has a lot of scandal behind him.
What are your earliest memories of TV, and did they have any bearing on you wanting to have a career in TV?
MC: My earliest memory, outside of cartoons, is The White Shadow. Because I loved basketball, I loved watching The White Shadow. At that time, it didn’t really have any bearing in terms of me acting.
What efforts do you take to promote diverse viewpoints, and how do you think that has affected storytelling, either on your show or the television medium as a whole?
MC: Our show is extremely diverse, just in the sense that all races are represented on our show. The setting is Miami, but it’s not just an entirely black cast. We have Italians, Anglos, Latinos—we have everything on our show. Everybody’s going to be represented throughout the course of the show.
And that’s the main aspect that I love about the show: When you watch it, you’re not going to feel like “I’m watching a black show, I’m watching a white show.” It’s just going to be a good show that, hopefully, will be able to stand up on its own merits, in terms of the writing and the acting.
If you could add something to the show you’re working on, without anyone knowing about it beforehand and free from any consequences from upset coworkers/networks/viewers, what would it be?
MC: I think I would probably add a stripper to the show. We’re in Miami, and they show a lot of skin in Miami, so if we had a stripper, she could be someone who didn’t mind taking her clothes off. Because my shirt’s off all the time, and I need a counterpart. You gotta balance it out. I don’t want to go after Jaina [Lee Ortiz, Chestnut’s Rosewood co-star] and ask her to do it; I don’t want to go after [Gabrielle Dennis, who plays Dr. Rosewood’s sister] or anyone else. So let’s get a stripper on the show, have her take her clothes off, and then it’s even.
If any character from your show could be given a spin-off, who would it be and what would be the premise of the new show?
MC: Let me tell you something: Every character on our show could have their own spinoff. I don’t want to single out anyone in particular because they all are layered, they all have depth—we have tremendous actors. There’s 13 NCIS, and they have another 18 in the chute, so we can have 13 spinoffs of Rosewood.