XXXXL Laughs! Interview with Kevin “Dot Com” Brown and Grizz Chapman
XXXXL Laughs! Interview with Kevin “Dot Com” Brown and Grizz Chapman
by Mia Amber Davis
Across America, Thursday nights belong to NBC and for the past three seasons the hit comedy, “30 Rock” starring Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin is a huge reason why. We caught up with two of “30Rock’s” larger than life, award winning actors, Kevin “Dot Com” Brown and Grizz Chapman to talk about mens body issues, the lies people tell themselves and getting animated!
Mia: Kev, we were talking at the photo shoot and you mentioned that most people don’t know that you’re a seasoned stand-up comedian! Tell our readers about your legendary stand-up career…
Kevin: Back in 1989 my brother and I started the Uptown Comedy Club in New York. The club itself became legendary because it was the first black owned comedy club on the east coast. The Uptown Comedy Club was responsible for starting the hip-hop comedy movement. Shows like Def Comedy Jam came from that movement. Our club was the first to pair a D.J. with a comedian for an African-American audience. It changed the game. I never planned to be a comic. I intended to stay behind the scenes and manage comedians. In 1999 we recorded a comedy album and I spoke with each of the eight or so comedians on the tape in hopes of managing their careers. Although I thought each could be the next big thing in comedy the guys seemed crazy and I couldn’t see myself investing in them. I decided to invest in myself and become a comedian. It was a business move for the betterment of my club because in order to put the club on the map it needed a star.
When I made that decision I started from scratch. I re-invented myself and even got a new name, “Big Kev Dot Com.” I didn’t use any of my comedy connections to get ahead –I started standing on line and auditioning like everyone else. I have a lot of respect for the game so I wanted to go about it the right way. I needed to pay my dues. About two years into my stand-up career I was cast on Last Comic Standing.
Mia: Your characters on NBC’s, “30 Rock” have really evolved. What led up to that?
Grizz: Well, when we first got the job I really don’t think they knew what they had in us. When they found out they had two diamonds in the rough they took a bigger chance on us and it all worked out.
Kevin: The characters were originally just “extras” and I remember when the casting director called me asking me to do it I let her know that I didn’t do background/extra work anymore. She asked me three times and I told her no three times! Then she asked me to do it as personal favor so I said yes. We had no idea who was on the show or anything.
When we shot the pilot there were originally four of us big guys assigned to hang out with Tracy Morgan’s character.
Tracy and I knew each other from the comedy club. When we first saw each other on set he knew me as Big Kev Dot Com. He introduced us to Tina Fey as his “family” Grizz and Dot Com. They liked our chemistry and history with Tracy By the second episode they pulled us aside and promoted us. I remember simultaneously smiling and crying a single tear like Denzel Washington in, “Glory.”
Mia: Being such big guys at 6’11 and 6’5 you’re generally cast as security, bouncers, bodyguards and the like. Does that ever get monotonous? What are your dream roles?
Grizz: Yes it does get monotonous! They think all we’re good for are the big guy roles but there’s so much more to us than that. As for my dream role…I would actually love to play a super hero or a doctor!
Kevin: It gets so tiresome! Hollywood is so narrow minded. The major roles with emotional arcs usually go to average sized guys. Hollywood’s leading men get families, have relationships, they get drama and fights, etc. They never give that to the big black guy but there’s always a place for us in the script. We need to fight for the opportunity to get those leading man roles.
“30 Rock” has been developing my character and allowing me to show that I can execute dialogue and I appreciate them for that. Whether it’s one line or 21 lines I feel I have to give it my all.
My dream role is that of a gangster. I recently did an independent film and my character’s name is “World Wide.” I’d love to do more with him. He gave me a chance to do things I’d never do in traditional Hollywood. I’m doing more and more things off “type” because I have changed my approach. Last year I filmed two other movies and my characters name in both films was, “Bouncer.” Now, I don’t even audition for characters unless they have a name.
Mia: How do you feel about the lack of visibility of full figured women in Hollywood?
Kevin: That’s interesting because there definitely is a lack of full figured women, black women or black people in general in Hollywood. In order for us to get our images out there we need to write our own projects and speak out. When you get people like Mo’Nique who champion the cause the then turn their backs on it then it doesn’t give that push to the next full figured woman through the door or up on the pedestal.
Mia: Do you think there’s a double standard when it comes to the roles available for “big guys” vs. the roles available for “big girls” in film and television?
Grizz: Yes I do! The bottom line is that we as people of size don’t get a fair shake. The girls can play an occasional sexy role, and we can be action film heroes but the good thing is that I think the doors are opening for us.
Kevin: I agree that there’s a stigma attached to larger women in Hollywood. Bigger black women usually get the nurturing roles. The thing about Hollywood I was initially insulted by is the fact that it’s all about types. They look at your picture and stereotype it. They always make big girls the friend but not the leading lady.
Basically, you need to develop a personality and make a name for yourself no matter what size you are. Look at Mo’Nique– she can write her own ticket now. She used to promote size acceptance and now she’s sending another message. She sold out big girls to go for her own career. By doing that she somewhat put a damper on the equality big girls were fighting for.
Mia: Grizz, do you think people ever shy away from getting to know the real you because of your size?
Grizz: (Laughing) Yes! People look at me and get scared. Those same people never take the time to get to know me. A lot of people tell stupid little jokes about my size or they’ll call me “Tiny” thinking that it’s a great ice breaker. It does work, though! I’m changing as a person and in my career so I’ve learned to just put on a smile so that I will seem more approachable.
Mia: Kevin,you’ve just signed on as a spokesperson for Men’s NutriSystem. Tell us about that. Also, is it a popular misconception that men don’t have “body issues?”
Kevin: Men do have body issues but they can easily be overlooked and camouflaged by great careers, nice cars and hefty bank accounts. If you’re a man with those things you can be short, fat and bald but your body issues become diminished.
I recently became a spokesman for Men’s NutriSystem but I’m only in week two. If the program works for me then you will start to see me in a more active role. I lost 11.4 lbs. in week one! My goal is to lose 100lbs. but it sounds so unreachable! I really want to put Men’s NutriSystem to the test! Losing so much the first week was exciting to me.
I’ve always had a dream that if I could get down to my old fighting weight of 250lbs. I would go for the movie star roles like The Rock and James Bond. I want to be that sexy guy in movies coming out of the water on the beach. Big guys usually keep their shirts on at the beach but if I can get my sexy back I’m running with it.
Mia: Grizz, you recently appeared on the Dr. Oz Show to talk about your personal battle with Hypertension and kidney disease. Please tell us about what you’re going through and ways we can help.
Grizz: First off people don’t realize the connection between high blood pressure and kidney disease. I’m on dialysis today because I didn’t watch my blood pressure. I go to treatment three times week at four and a half hours at a time. It’s no fun at all to be in this situation. So, what I want to say to everyone is please watch your salt intake. Stop eating fast food! Think about what you’re putting into your body before you eat it. If you would like more information please go to www.kidney.organd they will answer all of your questions. Early detection is key. The National Kidney Foundation will also check you out for free. Please don’t end up like me. Please make a change.
Mia: You’ve lost a lot of weight and are looking fantastic! What changes have you had to make in your dietary & fitness regimen?
Grizz: I had to change everything. I stopped eating cheese and wheat bread. I also stopped drinking milk. Those are just some of the things I had to cut out. The biggest change I had to make was learning how to have smaller portions. I also stopped eating at 4a.m.
As for fitness, I try to walk a lot and encourage everyone to try to get in their 10,000 steps per day. I just want to live so I will do whatever it is that I have to do.
Mia: You approached Plus Model Magazine about this photo shoot because you said you’ve always wanted to be a plus-size male model…were you serious? Did we make your dream a reality?
Grizz: Yes I was dead serious! And yes you did make my dream come true. For so many years I knew I could do it but I never got the chance so I thank you for that!
Mia: Kevin, you’re an “overnight success” 21 years in the making…any advice for aspiring entertainers?
Kevin: A friend of mine once told me something so profound when I told him I wanted to try my hand at being a stand-up. He said, “one thing about you is if you couldn’t do it you would know it.” A lot of people can’t do things and they don’t know it. That’s how you end up seeing all of the horrible auditions on American Idol! You have to know what you are capable of. There are things that give individuals credibility and learning about yourself and your capability legitimizes your quest. There will be haters who tell you what you can’t do but don’t listen to them, however, deep down inside you can’t fool yourself. Be honest.
Some say, “either you’ve got it or you don’t.” I say, “if you don’t got it you can get it.” Work hard to find your own motivation. I needed a reason to drive me into the spotlight because I was never the funny guy, the class clown or the kid performing in school plays. I had to work on what I had then I went and got “it.” This April will be the 11th anniversary of my doing stand-up. That’s 11 years of work. Don’t fool yourself or lie to yourself –know your truth.
Mia: Kevin started out as a stand-up comedian, how did you get started? Any advice for aspiring entertainers?
Grizz: Before I started acting I was a celebrity bodyguard. One day one of my clients asked me to be in his video and I think that was the day I got bit by the acting bug! It wasn’t easy in the beginning going from bodyguard to actor. I had to let the bodyguard part of my life go because it didn’t mix well with my new life. I’m glad I took a chance on acting because it worked out nicely!
As for aspiring entertainers my advice is this–follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you “No” or that you can’t because I know that you can. Make a plan and stick to it. The road won’t be easy but it will work out as long as you keep pushing.
Mia: What’s next for “Grizz & DotCom?”
Grizz: Well we’ve been blessed be given a new web series called, “Living Large with Grizz and Dot Com!” We also have a cartoon in the works, we’re still excited to be a part of “30 Rock” and the rest you’re just going to have to wait and see!
We love our fans and would love to hear from them on Twitter @grizzanddotcom We’re also on Facebook as Grizz Chapman or Kevin Brown aka Dot Com and we also have a fan page for NBC’s “30Rock” so anyone can reach us there. Our own personal website is coming soon!
Image Credit: Kevin (Dotcom) Brown and Grizz Chapman