He's come a long way since Travis!
Anthony Montgomery, that is, who's on a real career warp-spike right now. Regular viewers of VH1's first-ever scripted series Single Ladies know what I'm talking about—Anthony plays scorned-good-husband Darryl Jenkins in the pilot and five episodes to one of the title women, sort of an urban/black Sex and the City/Desperate Housewives vibe. It's #1 in its 4-hour slot on cable for women 18-24, with 2.8 million total viewers a week.
As you can see by the clip above, Anthony's no smilin' silent ensign here—and is one of the most controversial parts of the show. He recently sat still long enough for a phone chat, sharing a Q&A with me (below the fold) about the triple whammy of all things Anthony right now—including a new hot song tied into tonight's show ...
See, he's away for a few eps til the season finale NEXT week, Aug. 8, but Monday—tonight, Aug. 1, 9 or 11 ET/PT—Anthony's still a presence on the series with "Stimulation," his all-new single he wrote and performs that was picked for the music-heavy show's mood soundtrack for Episode 9. His single, which also features rapper J.Naught-T!, also has its world broadcast premiere during the show breaks but is up now on iTunes. And here's the video:
But wait, what's this? A graphic novel with his own sci-fi/superhero coming out after that? Looks like it's time we caught up.
Anthony now commutes to work in L.A. from his home and family in Fort Worth, so distance deprived us of a "Switching to Visual" vidchat. But here's the skinny:
LN: Congratulations on landing the role on Single Ladies! What’s the scope of the show, how did you get involved, and how does your recurring role fit in?
AM: Yes, this is not a reality show! People assume if it's VH1 this a reality show, but this is VH1's first regular scripted program. The critics consider to be a black version of Sex and the City—a Sex and the City for the Atlanta market.
We did the two-hour pilot last May, shopped that around and did a lot of test markets—got an overwhelming response, they ordered 10 total after the pilot and began airing May 30 with the pilot movie. And we just got renewed for Year 2!
This sounds like a great gig. It just started out as just another audition?
It was just another audition for me, yes, because as everybody knows the industry has been in a crazy state of flux for several years now. So this opportunity came up—and my hesitancy came at first from wondering how VH1 would be able to do a scripted program like this, because I don’t really watch VH1 or all the reality shows; I didn’t even know they had done all this.
Was Single Ladies just another audition for you, or what?
Well, for me, yes! Actually, I auditioned for a different role, for Malcolm, who is played by D.B. Woodside, and he’s the only series male regular. D.B. was a better choice for that role, because of the dynamic of the character, but they remembered me from that and wanted me for Daryl. So once this one came in. they wanted to see me on tape, but it was virtually an offer for me since they had seen my work. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ve had a lot of fun, and I’m just curious to see where all of this goes!
As you said, it's in flux—they have run off so much scripted off the networks for reality shows that the cable nets are picking it up.
Bravo, Lifetime, you name it—everyone has done some kind of a reality show. But that just got further and further away from regular television—and I know at some point you have to get back to that. That's what the core of television is—and to me, the core of television is not reality TV. But I’m biased!
So tell us about your role—which began in the pilot.
Yes, I play Darryl Jenkins, a successful Atlanta businessman who loves his wife dearly, works to make his marriage work—and the audience discovers in the pilot that for as nice a guy as Darryl is, his wife is cheating on him with the mayor of Atlanta! Who is played by Common, the hip-hop artist. Then in the first one-hour episode, Darryl discovers it, and the scandal comes out a la Tiger Woods—it‘s on the news, a really big to-do. And they have me go down a completely different path—people get to see a darker side of me, of Anthony, because I’ve never played characters like that. I’m always the best friend, the boyfriend/nice guy—and in this one I start like that... but when I make that turn I REALLY make that turn.
A little less smiling this time…
And it’s a lot of fun! It’s fun to play a bad guy, if you will, even if you didn’t start out to be the bad guy. The entire thing really works.They have us go through therapy and it was hard for Darryl—and, well, they had me serve her with divorce papers and include her trust fund. That actually divided the viewers! I've gotten guys from all over the US either writing me or sending me tweets or Facebooking me— “Ohmygod , that was so rad!” or “Good! She deserves that!” And then there are women, the majority of women who say “I can’t believe you gave her divorce papers like that! That’s horrible! That’s so mean of you!" And I just keep going, "Do you forget she was sleeping with the mayor?” But its been fun listening to all that.
I mean, I’m the subject of watercooler talk! I was at Kinko’s and heard the people at Kinko's talking about it: “Hey man I checked out my show Single Ladies last night...” And this was funny because they didn’t know I was on the show; it was interesting being that fly on the wall, listening to the fan response to it. Everybody has someone on this show that they can identify with and connect to. And It’s a lot of fun. It’s a very sexy show: the three women, Stacey Dash, LisaRaye McCoy, and Charity Shea, who plays my wife April—they’re gorgeous, all of them. And VH1 does not let that fact go unpromoted! (laughs) It’s nice. It’s interesting to be one of the men of Single Ladies.
Like the men on Desperate Housewives, or the boyfriends on Sex and the City, yeah!
Exactly! I’ve never been on a show like that. I guess the closest I’ve been is being one of the men on Star Trek: Enterprise, but that’s still hardly the same.
Yeah, I don’t think you had too many watercooler moments when you were being Travis.
Not at all! Now, granted, I guess there were some circles where they would see an episode and they would be talking about it, but I was never privy to those conversations!
Well, and probably not out at a Kinko’s.
No, maybe not. (He laughs) But this has been a lot of fun. l just started working with a publicist, Siri Garber at Platform PR, because of the notoriety this show is getting—as VH1’s first scripted program, and Queen Latifah's executive producing; she is beloved by all. I had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of times while we were down in Atlanta filming the series. She’s a really sweet woman. It’s just been really interesting being a part of the process—I’m having a lot of fun, in truth! We were in Atlanta for the whole shoot.
For me it was nice, because people saw me in the pilot and the first five episodes, and then I go away and they focus on some other storylines… and then they have me come back in the finale. And if the fans love me such that they write in to VH1, go online about it, then VH1 will either bring me back as a series regular on Single Ladies, or they could give me my own series. I know this is their first scripted program, and they want to do more.
So we need to "keep those cards and letters coming in," as they used to say?!
Yes! Yes! Definitely do that! (He laughs) Tell all your friends to write in to them, let them know that you want to see more of Anthony Montgomery, or that it’s Darryl you like on the show! Regardless of who it is, just get the word out you want to see more of me on screen, and that’s how the networks build around the people. But whatever happens with this, I’ve already buckled my seatbelt and I’m ready for the ride!
But that's not all...
Music is a big underlying part of Single Ladies, and you hear these amazing tracks on the show—a lot of fun music. Well, the music supervisor for the show, Kenny “Tic” Salcido, is a fan of mine from Enterprise…
See, they’re everywhere!
Our Trek fans ARE everywhere, yes—I love it! But Tic sits in with all the editors as they’re doing the show, because he has to find the music to match up with the moments. So he saw a lot of what we had shot before even we had seen it, and he was just really excited about me being a part of the show. And he didn’t realize that I actually do music; he didn’t know that I had released an album years ago. And when he and I talked about it, he said, "Well, I'd like to hear something."
And I had a song I had just started working on, and when I played it for him he told me he loved it and wanted to use it on the show! Now, that’s GREAT, but a song may be the best thing since slice bread and if you can’t find a place where it organically fits, then it really doesn’t help all that much—which is why it’s so difficult to get a song placed in any given project.
SO... I have a new single called “Stimulation”—it’s a sexy song! Not overt—but it’s a hot song. And it is in the show! And we shot my very first video—I didn’t do any videos for the first album. And VH1 will help push this thing it since I’m part of Single Ladies.
Everybody that’s heard "Stimulation" says, “No way, that’s not you!” and I say “Good!” (He has a big laugh) That means they like it, and they don’t WANT it to be me! So when I hear them say that, I say "Oh good—that means I ‘got’ another one. Good!”
I’m really excited, because what I was trying to do was not just focus on music but rather focus on getting myself back in the front of the camera, and letting everything else organically fall into place. "Tic" giving me that break is really big; there’s a lot of rappers that that’s all they do, promote 24/7, and they can’t get anybody to place their music. And the fact that he gave me this opportunity, I just can’t say thank you to him enough.
What I’ve learned about Hollywood is that you have build on your momentum, and you have to do it right then.
AND I should say my video for "Stimulation" features J.Naugh-T! He’s a rapper, and fans know him—he has his own booth, he does custom framing and has things he sells at the conventions, so a lot of the fans will know who he is.
Speaking of which —any conventions this summer?
I think the only one I have on the books is in El Paso the weekend of Sept. 10-11.
I also have "Miles Away," the animated series; I turned it into a graphic novel, and once we get the 24 pages back we’ll go out to the publishers to get a deal and a tour. I didn't know how many actors in the Star Trek franchise have literally created and written a graphic novel, so I’m excited about that! I know several people have done a few regular novels, but no one has delved into the actual graphic novel world.
It’s sci-fi themed—I’ve created a 16-year-old teen superhero, a whole other universe, and I have some fantastical characters within in. So there’s Single Ladies and the fans supporting me as an actor there, but I’m thinking a majority of our Trek fans may not really get into a show like that or Sex and the City, because it's really not their genre or their niche. But my graphic novel is specifically for my core fans that are out there. I want to talk about it in a couple months, when the fans will able to go out and do the pre-orders.
And we'll be there to let you know, sportsfans!
Meanwhile, who's seen Single Ladies and that "monster" he plays?