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Actor Mack Wilds has ‘Shots Fired’ and ‘The Breaks’ on his plate — and he’s not slowing down

Except to speak to the power of sticking with his Knicks, and why he’d want to but never will fight Mike Tyson

By now, you know that Mack Wilds is in trouble.

Well, not Wilds himself, but his character, Officer Joshua Belk — on FOX’s acclaimed new series Shots Fired — is in a bad place. In this dramatic lead-in to Fox’s Empire, Wilds portrays a cop who kills a white college student and turns a small Southern town on its head. It feels like everyone is waiting to find out what it all means. Wilds, 27, is also co-starring on VH1’s The Breaks, a show about the 1990s hip-hop era that pairs him with fellow The Wire veteran Wood Harris.

What’s your social media tribe?

I like to take pictures. Instagram … that’s sort of storage for me and my team, but with Instagram Live or Snapchat — those are mine. I get a chance to actually grab the camera, take pictures and show you a day in my life. I might just want to talk about some craziness, or show you the people at the party I’m at. It’s my opportunity to create. It would either be [Instagram] or Twitter, because I’m a writer. I love to go off on some quotes, or just anything inspirational.

What’s your favorite throwback television show?

People would expect me to say The Wire, but I’m gonna do The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I’m a Fresh Prince kid. I grew up on Will Smith. He was everything to me. He’s my hero.

I grew up on Will Smith. He was everything to me. He’s my hero.

Where does your courage come from?

It’s just me borderline being dumb. And not dumb in the sense that I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’ve always heard that fortune only favors the bold. And the bold are the ones who are stupid enough to do it. That’s what my dad says. I blame [my courage] on me being stupid enough to do it.

What’s your favorite karaoke song?

Oh, man, there’s too many options. When I used to live in L.A, one of my good homeboys did like this karaoke night every Tuesday in North Hollywood and everybody would come out. It would be like “Sweet Caroline” or … You know what? Musiq Soulchild. That’s my go-to all the time.

Who are your favorite sports teams?

I’m a New York boy, through and through. My NFL team is the Giants, of course. My NBA team is the Knicks — we’re in the rebuilding stage, so we’ll get better soon enough. And for college, I really, really like Alabama. It’s more of a personal thing because when we were doing [2012’s] Red Tails, Alabama was up against LSU that year. Before the big game, they played movies for both teams. LSU watched [2007’s] Shooter, and Alabama watched Red Tails. I remember the [Alabama] coach [saying] ‘Red Tails got us all excited! You fight! You fight! You fight!’ And they blew by LSU. From then on, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m a Bama fan.’

Sports speak to me because it’s the one place that you can be competitive — and then, at the end, shake hands and everything is all right.

How do you find out about new music?

It comes to me in different ways. Sometimes I’ll just be on Apple Music, or I’ll let my Spotify or my SoundCloud just play. Tidal has these playlists. All of these streams create playlists that help you find the newest, dopest stuff. Either that or I’ll hear [by] word of mouth.

What was the first concert you ever went to?

My dad took me to one of these free concerts that they used to throw every year at Wingate Park in Brooklyn, [New York], and it was with LL Cool J.

What’s the last concert?

Kanye [West], when he had the platform up in the air. That was amazing. I’m such a Kanye fan, it was crazy.

Do you play a sport in real life?

I wish. The only thing I do is box. When I was younger, I used to play every sport. The only sport that I was never good at was basketball. I’ve always wished I could play basketball. My older brother was a basketball star. I’m good at football, baseball, a little bit of soccer, boxing, wrestling — I did everything else.

I’m a New York boy, through and through.

Is there one athlete you’d love to go head to head with?

I don’t want to die, because these guys are legends at their sport. But … Mike Tyson, of course. I just remember growing up enamored by this man … a missed swing by this guy would knock somebody down. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, my God! I want to learn how to do that!’ The second one would be Bo Jackson. Bo Jackson to me was a god. He is God.

Why do you love sports so much?

I’m a guy who loves to be around people. I love camaraderie. I love to see other people have fun — and I’m supercompetitive. Sports speak to me because it’s the one place that you can be competitive — and then, at the end, shake hands and everything is all right.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Kelley L. Carter is a senior entertainment reporter and the host of Another Act at Andscape. She can act out every episode of the U.S. version of The Office, she can and will sing the Michigan State University fight song on command and she is very much immune to Hollywood hotness.