We recently sat down with actor Justin Cunningham who stars as one of the leads in NBC’s new comedy series Grand Crew, featuring an all-black cast. From the creator and producers of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the series follows a group of friends as they experience the highs and lows of life and love at a wine bar in Los Angeles. Justin plays Wyatt, the married friend, who is happy to be out of the turbulent dating world. The series premiered on January 4, 2022 on NBC, and the first 7 episodes are available to stream on Hulu. We asked Justin about the series, his character, how he got into acting and lots more. Check out our conversation below.
What can you tell us about Grand Crew?
Justin Cunningham (JC): It’s a new comedy from NBC that follows a group of friends in LA who meet regularly at a wine bar to “Wine down”. The show explores the cultural nuances of this group in relation to their friendships with each other, their work life, and love life. The show features an all-black cast which is something not normally pursued in network television.
What can you tells us about your character?
JC: I play the character Wyatt who is a photographer and the only married one of the group. Wyatt leads with a sense of optimism and curiosity which he lends to his friends when they find themselves in awkward albeit unique situations. He is fiercely competitive and deeply in love with his wife Kristen which we get to explore the many layers of their relationship through that vein.
When did you decide that storytelling was something you wanted to do?
JC: I learned from an early age I had a knack for making people laugh. I grew up on a farm in Arkansas so artistic outlets were very limitedfor me. Once I got to college at the University of Arkansas I found, basically, that I could cultivate that deep desire to give a part of myself. I could perform and still make it a viable career despite the understandable perception that an acting career may seem far-fetched. I luckily applied to grad school and was accepted into the Juilliard School where I was able to further my education and attain my Masters. From there, there was no turning back; it was going to be a life commitment.
What advice do you have for people pursuing the arts?
JC: It is hard. It is a battle every single day. You have to know specifically why you want to pursue this. For whatever reason it may be, it has to be authentic and honest. You cannot accomplish anything halfwa; you MUST be all in. So if a person wants to be an artist, find your vision. Focus on it. Push for it. Be relentless. Grow, and don’t ever quit. It’s possible.
What was your first acting role?
JC: My first role was in the 3rd grade for a school presentation about the Civil War. Being the only black kid in my class, or elementary school for that matter, with immense passion I performed a speech by Fredrick Douglas at the school library. It was quite captivating I believe. I had a wig and everything.
What do you enjoy most about acting?
JC: What draws me the most these days is the opportunity to play and explore different parts of myself. I have often said to people the study of acting is ‘not the study of learning how to lie, but the study of telling the truth’. I feel like I am more myself when I get the opportunity to be someone else. Not that amuncomfortable with who I am, but I feel, I myself, am limited and when I play a part different from me I am set free…at least for a few hours.
Grand Crew returns on Tuesday, February 22 at 8:30pm EST on NBC
Keep up-to-date with us on all of our channels and social media accounts:
Apple Podcasts: https://goo.gl/y6tbA9