“It was just like any other audition process,” the actor says about testing for the role as Kenyatta on Showtime’s controversial Shameless. “I was baptized by fire like everyone else.”
Most fans of Shameless will understand the former Army brat’s lightness of phrase, noting his full, frontal nude scene involving a Russian prostitute during their current fourth season. This being his first nude scene on camera, he decided to proceed with playful caution and posted a “Should I, Shouldn’t I?” poll on Facebook. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Even his mom said yes. However, let it be clear that it’s not all the show has to offer: “It’s not Skinamax,” Sheldon remarks. “It runs the gambit.” And truly this is what draws viewers in Sunday nights at 8 pm CST. “There’s a lot of interracial dating. The fanbase is mixed with a lot of young people watching, but it can be offensive to an older black crowd.”
The show’s take on poverty, specifically through the eyes of a poor white family living on the south side of Chicago, is a convention rarely explored in the media. Perhaps because of this rarity, stereotypes are infused with a decent amount of humor to help the medicine go down. “[If] it becomes darker, it looses its flavor,” Bailey muses. “The production gives back to the community [it films in] and it has an effect on how people view poverty…it educates people a little bit. I would take my hat off to them if they went a little further [though.]”
The young talent understands the value in such a move through his history as a mentor beginning at the age of 16 back home in North Carolina. Early in his basketball years, he teamed up with D.A.R.E to extend mentoring throughout his county. “Activism has always been a part of who I am, and so has giving back to inspire people to do bigger and better.”
This is a sentiment Sheldon holds for himself and his family, and he notes his seven-year-old son Solomon’s athletic prowess and interest in acting. “He has all the talents I have. He wants to do commercials and is auditioning, and at an early age has shown all the signs of an athlete. He also raps, so performing arts school is in his future.” It is clear the actor’s son inherited his father’s Renaissance man-like traits.
Aside from his long history in sports and growing entertainment resume, Sheldon’s other talents extend to writing books of original poetry. His first is entitled 180° of Spoken Word, and he has a second one on the way. In addition, rapping and a blossoming love of being a foodie are among his other gifts. And he’s still “ready for whatever,” as he expresses his excitement for upcoming episodes on Shameless where his athletic training will be put to the test in action scenes. This is something he looks forward to having more of in his career. With action as his favorite genre, he looks forward to the opportunity to one day take the baton from his favorite action heroes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stallone. Since staying in shape won’t be an issue, Bailey has resigned with Planet Fitness, continuing in to play the sexy drill sergeant in their ads, with more opportunities to come. There is so much more to come from this self-proclaimed “second most interesting man in the world,” and since he’s making good on that title, there’s no reason to believe he won’t reach that number one spot.
Photo courtesy of Doogie Benisch.