BET’s new hit show, Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union in the title role, has only been on a for a minute but already two fan favorites have emerged from Mary Jane Paul’s messy love life. That would be her lovers David and Andre, who have forced fans of the show to take sides on Twitter, where last week’s episode was the #1 trending topic worldwide. #TeamDavid is for those who can appreciate a tall, athletic, cerebral light-skinned man, and #TeamAndre is for those who like married Andre’s tortured, sexy, muscular, intense appeal. David Paulk is played by actor Stephen Bishop, who is also tall, sexy and cerebral in real life. The Chicago-born, Northern California raised Bishop is a former baseball player turned actor who not only has a college degree, but says he is single, with no girlfriend and no kids.
He’s also a grown-ass man. Although he won’t confirm or deny it, Wikipedia has him listed at 42. We caught up to Bishop, who has appeared on The Game and starred as baseball player David Justice in Brad Pitt’s Moneyball, as well. Here’s what he told us about Being David Paulk.
Blackamericaweb.com: How do you feel about the show’s success thus far?
Stephen Bishop: Four million people turned in to the first episode last week. It’s amazing. It’s overwhelming. It’s humbling. There’s a full gamut of emotion that you get when something like this happens. It happened with Moneyball but this is more in my face. Moneyball was a movie but not everybody went to see it. This is all of a sudden Twitter and Instagram and Facebook all just exploding right now. It’s crazy to watch it. It was so much fun to be out there in New York with all the cast at the viewing party and share the moment with them and see the response of the people in the room. It was fantastic.
Are you prepared for what comes next? Although you’ve been acting for a number of years and had a role in a Brad Pitt produced movie, this is your first prominent role on a TV show and let’s face it, there’s something different when Black people start liking you.
Yes, that’s absolutely true. I think I’m prepared. I have been doing this for a while but it hasn’t been as prominent as this. Moneyball got a lot of attention but I didn’t get that much attention in this market.
I’m sure you realized along the many things that will come your way is is what happens when a handsome man becomes a TV star. There’s a lot more opportunity.
You mean with women? Well, having come from a professional sports background, I’ve already been in the position where people recognized who we were and were attracted to the position, not the person. I’m not a young guy, and it’s not my first year in the game. I think as flattering as it will be if that happens, it’s not going to really affect my outlook.
How did you transition from sports to acting?
As a child I was fairly well rounded. I was always the kid who would memorize standup comedy like Freddie Prinze, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, so I always had a performer in me. That was always running through my blood but I started playing baseball since the age of 4. So that was always my duality. I had a professor at college pull me aside and tell me I should think about acting for a living. I had just gotten a baseball contract and I was going to be a baseball player. When I got released from Baltimore, I was in Victorville fielding calls from other baseball teams but I kept hearing God saying it’s time. It’s time. And I knew what he was saying. He was telling me it was time to transfer from the train that got me here to the train that was going to take me to my final destination, which was acting.
The guys of Being Mary Jane are pretty fascinating. How much of David did you draw from your own life?
Some of the things that have happened to David and I’m not going to get into the details, (laughs) have happened to me in real life. He wanted to play sports but was gifted in another area so he went that route. His relationship with Mary Jane is a love-hate relationship, with more love than hate, but they can’t seem to get on the same page. I’ve had that happen to me. I was able to bring myself to that character because [show creators] Mara and Salim Akil gave me that freedom. I’ve worked with them on Girlfriends and on The Game and they graciously thought of me for this. They are my hero couple. I think they are the greatest couple I’ve ever met. I love them individually and I love their love. So there’s a lot of David in me.
Where does David end and Stephen begin?
I would say that I’m a little bit more edgy than David. I grew up a hip-hop kid. I was always into the hardcore hip-hop world and I was deep into that. David is a computer guy, he’s developed a computer company but he’s a little bit softer than I am. He’s somebody that I think Mary Jane can take a little bit of advantage because of his soft spot for her.
What else can you tell us about what happens with Mary Jane and David? I’m not at liberty to say where my character is going to go. The way the show has been written is that there are so many aspects of her life that we see, so I’m not in every episode. I do have a prominent role in the series, I can say that.
Do we know if there is a second season commitment as of yet?
God willing we will be able to make that happen. We’re all hoping.