We had a chance to talk to Marcel Spears, who plays T.K. Clifton, on ABC's new fall sitcom The Mayor.
Spears had plenty to tease about what's coming up for Courtney and his friends, so fans should be prepared for more music, more holiday-themed episodes, and of course, more laughs!
Check out our exclusive interview with Spears for more details!
Being that this is your first television role, what drew you to the project? What about the show and the character really excited you?
Marcel Spears: The thing that drew me to the project, literally, was the character. We didn’t have much script at first, we only got a few pieces of scenes. But the character, especially the friendship between T.K., Courtney, and Jermaine, was something that I immediately connected to.
That was something that I understood, just having that kind of fun. Once I got the transcript and saw what was there, and saw how they wove music into the show…Like initially when you hear “rapper mayor,” I was like, aw man, that’s going to be…what is that? Is that a gimmick? What’s the deal?
But you hear that Courtney is a rapper and he runs for mayor not intending to win, but the thing that gets him elected is how much he cares about his community and how much he loves the people around him. I was like, all right, I need to be a part of this. So I auditioned and I got lucky.
What’s the atmosphere like on the set? Did you guys all click right away? Do you play any pranks on each other?
I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a more cohesive group of people. Well, I don’t even know if that’s true. I have worked with artists and actors where it was a good group, but never this fast. That’s what makes this unique. It feels like I’ve been working with these people for years and it’s literally only been months.
It’s a good vibe on set. Most of the time I just spend all of my energy trying to make everybody laugh. If I can ruin a take, or break them in the middle of a scene, I’ve succeeded for that day. It’s kind of like that kind of energy throughout the show. Everybody looks out for everybody else, everybody there has a good time.
And even when it gets hard, and we’re tired ‘cause it’s eleven o’clock at night and we’ve been there since five a.m., people still have a general sense of being kind, knowing that we’re doing something special, and we came here to tell a cool story and have a lot of fun doing it.
Nobody’s an asshole, which is important. You don’t want to work with jerks. We don’t have that issue at all. It’s literally like I’m working with my brothers. Like Brandon and B.J. are my brothers. We play pranks on each other. We tell each other secrets, we hold each other down. Those are my brothers and Yvette and Lea are our sisters.
What new challenges are coming up for Courtney? Will we see more of Ed Gunt getting in his way?
Yes, it’s so funny because originally David signed on to do the pilot. We didn’t know it would get picked up, so we were unsure how much we were going to have him throughout the season. But after we got the pickup and once David started reading some of the scripts, he was more willing to come in, so you will see a lot of Ed Gunt.
I don’t know if he’s Courtney’s nemesis. He’s more like a frenemy because he doesn’t really hate Courtney, he just doesn’t think Courtney is as good at his job as he would be. He definitely feels like he should be the mayor and Courtney has no business in this office. So that dynamic is a lot of fun.
Courtney is still rebounding. He found himself in a love triangle, so he’s still trying to figure that out. He’s still dealing with the challenges of being a mayor and trying to balance that with his personal life. I think one of my favorite things for the audience to see coming up is Courtney thus far has had his boys with him every step of the way.
They’ve had his back every step of the way, and in a future couple of episodes, we see that friendship dynamic tested, because Courtney is not just their friend anymore. He’s the mayor, and he has certain responsibilities that sometimes may not be in line with what they want him to do.
So he gets into a rock and a hard place between doing what may be right for the city, but may not necessarily be right for his friends or his neighborhood, which is what he initially intended to do. He wanted to be the champion of that neighborhood, and he kind of has to answer to his boys for that.
That sounds like it’s going to be interesting.
I think so. Of course, there's a lot more music coming up. Another fun thing coming up is they want to do a thing where they sort of highlight Courtney's past with his music so you can see what kind of mindset he was in back in the day. So, one of his songs gets leaked, and it is not a song that is becoming of a city mayor, so that's going to be interesting.
So something embarrassing probably?
Will you be getting any storylines of your own?
I think so. The writers do a really good job of balancing what is happening in the show. Of course, Courtney is the lead, so his storyline is the A plot. But in the B plot you get a lot of different things.
The boys are always there helping Courtney or working against him. You’re going to see a lot of T.K. I wish I could tell you some more. In the episodes coming up you’re going to see a lot of really fun and interesting things, and sometimes silly things with T.K.
The Halloween episode was really funny. Do you have any other holiday-themed episodes planned?
We have a nice, light family-themed episode for Thanksgiving, but the Christmas episode...we just shot it last week. It is a huge episode. We had like a million extras, we were on location twice, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. There’s singing.
A lot of people have been freaking out about Lea Michele. Is she going to sing? Can she sing on the show? So you might hear a little bit of Lea for the Christmas episode. It’s going to be a lot of fun. That was a fun one to shoot.
Does she sing a lot on set?
Yeah, we all do. It’s a funny thing because all of us can sing, and so it’s not always the same person who starts it, but if a song is started, we’re going to finish it. Oddly enough, Lea sings a lot, but she dances more than she sings. She’ll randomly break out into dancing. She can bust a move.
Are you learning more about the local government system by being a part of the show?
Yes. There is so much stuff that I had no clue about as far as local government. Being a citizen of the country and old enough to vote, there are certain things that we all learn about big government, but when it comes to the smaller level, like city level politics, I had no clue. Absolutely no clue.
Like the different agreements between a mayor and a governor, and the different agreements between a mayor and the city council, so I’ve been learning a lot. The writers do all this research to make sure we are as accurate and authentic as we can be so we’re not putting Courtney in situations that are just unbelievable or impossible.
In doing that we learn a lot about how things run, how things are supposed to go, and what we can and can’t do. The jobs that Courtney has given us, why those are the only jobs he could give us, because certain positions have to be voted on, and things like that.
Is there anything else you can tease about what's coming up, or is there anything you're excited for fans to see?
There is literally so much coming. I think the most fun will be the Christmas episode. I think a lot of fans will enjoy that. It’s sort of like “It’s a Wonderful Life” themed. That’s not the whole storyline, but it’s kind of in that theme, so I can tease that. There’s a lot coming. People will not be disappointed.