By YRS Jerzy
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer
During the second season of “Empire,” the show made some subtle cast changes to suit the story. When Andre (Trai Byers) found God at the end of season one, it became a storyline in season two. This coincided with Lucious (Terrence Howard) signing J Poppa.
Portrayed by Mo McRae, J Poppa debunked every rapper stereotype when he revealed he was saved and a preacher’s child. He also turned heads when his character was paired with Becky (Gaborey Sidibe). On last week’s episode, J Poppa tried to convince Becky to leave Empire.
The real life reason for this was Mo McRae was cast as Blip Sanders in the new FOX series, “Pitch.” Here, he is playing opposite of Meagan Holder and he is a baseball player. Hip Hop Vibe caught up with Mo McRae and he discussed being on “Pitch,” “Empire,” and more.
Read the entire interview below:
Last week, viewers saw you wrap your run on “Empire,” what was that experience like? The experience was great. I have such a good relationship with so many people over there. The showrunner, Cinne (Francine Calfo), Trai Byers, Gabby. When I’m in Chicago, I’d love to reconnect with the cast.
Since you, obviously, had to leave, is Gabourey Sidibe leaving “Empire” for a while, too? You went above my head on that one, I don’t know (laughs). Hopefully they will give her a chance to showcase her skills, she is a talented actress.
What was it like to play opposite of her on “Empire?” Yeah. It’s interesting. Anytime you have a love interest relationship with anyone and you don’t know them, you go into it hoping to find a connection, find a vibe that goes well. We found that, we hung out, beforehand, got lunch together, aired it all out. It made the chemistry very interesting, she is one of those people where it’s hard not to like. If you have issues with her, it’s probably your own issue.
Did you find it to be a surprising twist to learn your character, J Poppa, was saved? I knew that was a part of it, from the gate. They told me, early on, and I thought it was great. There was a lot of duality with the character, with him being a gangsta rapper, while being the child of a pastor. I thought that situation was interesting.
What are the biggest similarities and differences between J Poppa and Blip Sanders, your character on “Pitch?” I’d say both are really passionate about what they do with their careers. I think, even in the midst of being career-driven, they believe in having meaningful connections outside of what they do in their careers. But, the biggest differences, I think Blip, as people will discover, as episodes will progress, that Blip has a bigger sense of humor than J Poppa.
Prior to “Pitch,” had you ever met Meagan Holder? No. I had never met her before.
Can you explain the chemistry you and she share? (LAUGHS) Meagan and I also have that chemistry. I’m glad people see the chemistry between us, because she’s great, she’s a gamer. She is fun to work with. We rehearse, but when action happens, anything goes and we figure out things as we go. Working with her is a dream, because she’s really prepared, but open to spontaneity. We are almost like a married couple, on set, as we have minor arguments on set, all the time. I often tell her “I don’t need that, right now.”
Did you ever play baseball as a child? I did not.
Do you see “Pitch” becoming the next breakout show on television and creating a renewed interest in baseball? I hope so, God willing. It’s really a special show. I think a lot of the key boxes people need to watching the show, we check those boxes. If we help kids get active again, that will be amazing. Kids are so isolated now and activity has declined. But, if this show can help people get out, get physical, and have activities with their brothers, sisters, parents, it would be awesome.
What other projects do you have in the works? Well, I have been developing a career behind the camera, as a director. I created a production company and working with Mark-Paul Glossear. My company does commercials and we have a content creation with Dr. Dre coming.
Where can people find you on social media? @itsmomcrae.
Watch Mo McRae in “Pitch” promo as ‘Blip’ below:
Follow YRS Jerzy on Twitter @IAMYRSJERZY.