One on One with "Mike and Molly's" Nyambi Nyambi

Tuesday, 28 February 2012 22:35 Written by  Jazmine Henley-Brown

I recently had a chance to catch up with the very talented, well- spoken and handsome actor, Nyambi Nyambi. We talked about Mike and Molly, and I also got a chance to learn a little bit about his early life, his future plans, and everything in between!

GlossMagazineOnline (GMO): First off, please explain the meaning behind your name; I know it’s a double name, but what does it mean?

Nyambi: There’s two ways to pronounce it, the Nigerian way is “Nyambi” which is two syllables. Then the American way is Knee-Ambi, like my knee and the black beauty product ambi. When playing a basketball game, the weirdest pronunciation.

GMO: I understand that you were born in Oklahoma, yet I hear that you collect jerseys from all of your different “hometowns,” you want explain that?

Nyambi: I moved around a lot, and that had a big influence on me. I’ve grown up in Oklahoma, Houston, and Dallas. Then, I was in the DC/VA area. Pennsylvania for undergrad and then I’ve been in New York for the past 10 years.

GMO: Out of all the places that you’ve lived in, which place would you call your favorite?

Nyambi: Oh snap! That’s hard to say, because for different reasons I love all of these places. Dallas for me was at a time, when my memories were really vibrant as a child. That could be a favorite. New York as an adult, I had such a great time living in New York. There’s something different about each place.

GMO: Now I know you received your masters from NYU, but I also read that you were going back to school, what’s that about?

Nyambi: I’m a busy body, so I’m always looking for something to do. I’m going to get a second masters degree in administrative leadership. I want to be able to run a production company and possibly run a set.

GMO: Let’s talk about your college life; you were a division 1 college basketball player. Was basketball something that you originally wanted to do, or have you always be interested in acting?

Nyambi: I always say that basketball was my former life; I always wanted to play it professionally. I’ve lost my love for playing organized basketball. Having a coach yell at you and get on you, I couldn’t do it anymore. Lucky for me, what I loved doing, most people would call it acting; I just looked at it as me having fun. My parents would just say “oh that’s Jr just doing what he loves to do.” I did a speech by Martin Luther King, and afterwards a teacher of mine, said “Nyambi, you’re an actor,” I said, “yeah that’s it, I’m an actor”. It was the first time someone put a name to the thing that I loved to do.

GMO: Would you say that moment inspired you to pursue acting?

Nyambi: Oh yeah, I’ve never looked back. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I was a business major. Everyone expected me to work on Wall Street, but I didn’t want to do that you know? I didn’t want to punch numbers. I didn’t want to spend my time in an office. I’m an artist, so I wanted to find some way to be creative. So when he said that, it was like wow.

GMO: So, how did you snag the role of Samuel on Mike and Molly?

Nyambi: It’s all strange to me; I’m still trying to figure that out. Lol. The audition was early January 2010, my manager sent me the script, and I was like yeah okay I’ll go do it. I was $ -300.00 in my back account, living the New York City artist life. Rent was just paid. I remember leaving Lincoln Center from turning in a grant proposal, I didn’t care that I was negative 300 dollars because I knew that it was just a season. I knew something amazing was going to happen in my life. For some reason, I just felt very enlightened. I’m a very spiritual person. I did the audition, and after it was done I kind of forgot about it. I didn’t think that I got it. I booked a commercial, I booked Law & Order, and I booked Shakespeare in the Park. A month later, my manager called me late one night and said “remember that audition that you had for Mike and Molly?” I was like “yeaaaahh?” He said “Well, they want to fly you out and test you” and I’m like “WHAT?! ”When I got there, they told me to go to Gate 7. I have a mentor, Danny Pino (of Law & Order: SVU). In 2008, he had me meet him at the studio at Gate 7. When I got there I was like “wait a minute I saw all of this!” The building that I’m testing in, is the same building that he and I had this conversation in! It all felt like dozens of cherries on top of an ice cream sundae. 15 minutes after the audition, I got the call that I got the job.

GMO: Now, Mike and Molly is nominated for an Emmy. To go from your account being negative $300, to having all of these blessings fall into your lap back to back, what’s the feeling that comes over you when you think about that?

Nyambi: Complete gratitude. I’m completely grateful for the cast of Mike and Molly, they’re amazing. I’m just completely thankful.

GMO: The million dollar question: Is there someone special in your life right now?

Nyambi: I’m very single! [laughs]

GMO: Are you looking for a relationship or are you just focused on work?

Nyambi: All I can do is focus on my career, any time I ever focus on having a girlfriend, it never works [laughs]. So I’m focused on my career, but I am looking.

GMO: What can fans expect next from you? Are you just going to focus on Mike and Molly and school or do you have any other projects in the works?

Nyambi: Mike and Molly is doing good right now, that’s my main focus. I’ve been writing as well, so there are some things in the works but nothing concrete right now. Mike and Molly is a big enough blessing and I’m still soaking that in right now. Jerry Rice was asked, “looking back at your career, what’s the one thing that you wish you’d did?” He said “I wish I had smelled the roses.” He never stopped to smell the roses. While he was doing it, never got to enjoy it. I just want to enjoy what I’m doing.

GMO: Is there anything that you would like the fans to know?

Nyambi: I’m a huge Oklahoma Sooner fan!

GMO: In closing, 20 years from now, what do you want your legacy to be? If people could say a couple of words about you, what would you like them to say?

Nyambi: [pauses] I would want them to say that he was someone who always did great work. Not only as far as acting, but also in the community. There’s a quote from the play Angels in America, where the angel says “the great work begins” and at some point, I hope people associate me with the great work, whatever that is.

Jazmine Henley-Brown

Jazmine Henley-Brown

Jazmine Henley-Brown is a journalist and On-Air personality from Milwaukee, WI. She attended the Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago, where she majored in Fashion Marketing. She is currently living in New York City and she can be reached by email, or Twitter @JHenleyBrown.