When you think about “The Game,” you think about Hosea Chanchez, who has portrayed star quarterback Malik Wright. After a years-long hiatus, the show is now back, for a third time, on Paramount+ and fans who have been loyal viewers of it since its inception will get to see the new reboot.
Instead of the usual comedic storylines that fans have grown used to, the series is now touching subjects that affect Black and brown people such as racism, mental health and hair discrimination. Chanchez has not only grown as an actor, but he is also tapping into his new roles as a producer and director.
REVOLT caught up with the star to talk about the new “The Game,” mental health in the Black community, cancel culture and more. Check out the interview below!
What was your reaction when you first found out “The Game” was going to be coming back after six years?
Wow. It’s not something that you expect. I was really surprised, really shocked. Nervous and just grateful — grateful that there’s still a desire for anyone to see this series after two inclinations on two different networks. So, I was really humbled by the idea that people still wanna watch the show and that they could possibly find a fresh new audience while still giving the fans of the series, who didn’t want the series to go away, a little taste of the nostalgia they’ve been yearning for.
You and Wendy Raquel Robinson are the only current cast members who have been on “The Game” since its inception. How does it feel to still be a part of it?
I feel like I’m the most fortunate actor on the planet. Not because I have an Oscar yet or because I have an Emmy or Golden Globe or anything of that sort, but because I hit the lottery for an actor. To be an actor, to be an artist and to actually live out your dream to actually do whatever it is that you set out to do — doesn’t matter if you desire to be a mechanic — but just to accomplish that and then to have one thing that I did 17 years ago still bearing fruit in my life. That is an unbelievable thing. I’m awestruck that I get to have a career that allows me to play a character for 17 years of my career — and could possibly end up being 20. Who knows how long it could go on Paramount+.
In the beginning, it could seem intimidating for an artist. You’re like, “Oh, you’re playing the same character for 17 years? That’s a long time. Are you typecast?” However, I’m really fortunate that I’m grounded in my clarity of what God is doing in my personal life. Those aren’t things that I’ve had to sit in. They’re things that I had to contend with early on, but I’ve never sat in those thoughts. So, I’m really fortunate to be able to play the same character and get to experience him in different decades of his life — and that mirrors the different decades of my life that I actually get to invest in something and into a character. I’m just sitting in the blessing of being able to do this for as long as I’ve been able to do it.
How has portraying Malik helped your development as an actor?
Playing Malik has enhanced my development as an actor because… starting this inclination of the show, it wasn’t always known what direction exactly we were going with Malik. But I’m really grateful that we were able to go back and deal with some things that have never been presented on-screen before. The biggest thing was mental health and the death of his childhood best friend. So, for me as an actor, I had to go back and create stories and life in this character that I’ve played so long. Playing Malik this time, created something in me that never existed as an actor. Having to do building blocks of work for my character, implementing so much of myself that Hosea has experienced over the past five years since we’ve seen the character the last time. It created a space for me to be free in the character because I lined up a lot of the traumas and a lot of the things that I’ve experienced over the past five years and I realized that I had a lot more in common with this character than I’d ever given credit to before.
We know you as an actor, but this season you also came on as a producer and director. What made you want to step behind the camera?
This world is something that I’ve loved for so long. Before I was even a part of the show, I’ve always been a fan of Mara Brock Akil’s work — like most people. I’ve always been such a fan of how she works characters and how it’s such a real-life experience with her. It feels so hands-on. So, I was a fan. I watched “Girlfriends” just like everybody else. So, coming back around I knew from the very beginning that in order for me to actually do this, I needed to take up more ownership in the show, which is a parallel to what Malik was experiencing unbeknownst to me at the time. I’ve known from the very beginning that I would have to take up more space in order to do it. In order to be a part of this series this time around, I needed to have more ownership in it. I knew and I trusted that I had something to offer to the world. I wanted to produce the show because I actually felt like I had something to actually contribute to the series that would help it grow in different ways and expand past where it had been.
The scene about natural hair was really powerful, especially knowing the negative view of Black hair in society. How important was it for you to touch on that topic this season?
It was impossible to not touch on these issues. It’s absolutely pivotal to talk about the things that exist in the structured world of sports. So for us, that was a part of the magic of bringing [the show] back because in the five short years since we were on BET, so much has happened. Think about everything that our athletes are responsible for. They’re on the forefront of so much change in our society today. Think about how rich the stories have become. In that time, we found out more information about CTE with Aaron [Hernandez] and so many different traumas that our players are enduring. Also, what they’re doing socially for us — as a society and for Black and brown people. The importance of that to tell those stories is the only reason I believe “The Game” exists today. It’s imperative that we dig in and have a more clear and precise goal of telling these stories.
There was a scene where the white quarterback used the N-word in one of his old tweets. We see that happening a lot today with celebrities getting “canceled.” What are your views on cancel culture and do you think people should be forgiven for things they previously said?
Cancel culture is definitely something that I feel has to be — I understood the need for it in the beginning. I think we all understood why. In the times that we’ve lived in for the past five to seven years, we understood why it was necessary to eliminate people or silence people in some way because of the toxicity that was existing within our world, and with our young people, and with the internet today. So, I understood the need in the beginning. Now, where cancel culture is today, where any human has the power to diminish someone’s livelihood is sickening, there are certain circumstances where individuals should not be able — that’s even hard to say. I can’t even say that with full conviction because ultimately I believe that freedom of speech is a human right. And although I may not agree with what someone else has to say or their point of view or their posting, however, freedom is freedom. If speech is free, then it has to be free despite consequences. We’ve got to get to a place where we stop playing God in people’s lives. I think there should be due process in every single area of our lives especially when we’re talking about stifling or stopping someone from being able to feed themselves and their family. I don’t personally worry about cancel culture, at all ’cause I know who feeds me. I know who my God is. Pipe down y’all.
How are you pushing forward the conversation of mental health in the Black community outside of the show?
Playing this part and doing the show this time around, I dove into learning more about mental health. In that, I found a great deal of responsibility, specifically for Black men and my sistas who have to deal with a lot of the traumas that we’ve experienced and feel like we have no outlet to express, or deal, or heal with what we’ve encountered. The responsibility of that has been on my back, past the show, because you can’t open a door like this and not have some form of an outlet to give people. It’s become the center focus of everything I do outside of the show — when it comes to speaking about the show on any level. It’s at the forefront of everything that I speak about because it’s so important. There are some things that I have that are in the works that I’m doing collectively with other people I know to heal us, specifically Black men.
For those who have never seen an episode of “The Game,” why should they check out season 10?
We have grounded the series in what is relevant and what is important in today’s society. Specifically, the journey of Black and Brown people, people of color who are experiencing so many different changes coming so fast at us in today’s society. So, what we’ve done is try to create a safe space and create a fun space of art for people who have never seen the show. I think the show stands alone. If you’ve never seen an episode of it, you don’t have to go back to watch the very first pilot to understand what’s happening in this world. We’ve tried to develop the characters — the older characters, the newer characters — and the world in general in a way that invites people in and it’s current. I know you’ve heard we’ve been around since ’05, ’06… however, this is a new show. It’s a new, fresh, exciting world that I think holds up to any of the new series that come out in today’s time.
Any plans for season 11?
I hope so. We don’t know anything yet. Paramount what’s happening? Like, guys get on Paramount+ and talk to them. I know how the fans of this show are, so, if anybody can put some pressure on them, it’s y’all.
What is next for Hosea?
I’m really excited. I’m producing this show right now called “Remember.” I’m going to shoot my feature film, hopefully before we go back to “The Game.” So yeah, more directing, more producing. A couple of things in the works that deal with mental health and Black men in general. Just more content and creating things that I’m excited about. I’m so thankful to God that I’m not in a position that I have to just do whatever comes my way. Thankfully, I’m at a position where I can actually craft a career.