Up Next


Omar Epps

The venerable actor is into ‘Narcos’ and ‘Blonde’ — and he’s kind of over the Mike Tomlin comparisons

Brooklyn’s own Omar Epps is an OG in a gang of consistently excellent black actors — among them Will Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Jamie Foxx, Taye Diggs — who have been gracing television and movie screens for decades. It was Epps’ lead roles in classics such as 1992’s Juice, 1999’s The Wood and 2000’s Love & Basketball that shot him to stardom, and his exceptional performances in a slew of television series including USA Network’s House and ABC’s Resurrection. Most recently he co-stars in Shooter, another hit for USA Network.

In Epps’ latest, Almost Christmas (written and directed by David E. Talbert), he takes on the supporting role of Malachi. It’s the story of a family coming together for their first Christmas after the passing of its matriarch. “This one is fun because [Malachi] is a friend of the family. He grew up next door to them,” said Epps. “And he’s visiting his mom for the holidays, too. Him and Gabrielle [Union]’s character had a little thing back in the day, so he’s trying to rekindle that.”

Epps recently took a break to sit down and chat about his upcoming work — plus Frank Ocean, Ryan Leaf, and why he and his doppelgänger Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin need to meet already.


What was your favorite part during the production of Almost Christmas?

Watching Mo’Nique and J.B. [Smoove] riff and go off-script. We’d be laughing and have to do takes over because everybody would be on set laughing. They’re brilliant.

Where are you most active on social media?

It’s equal between Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I’m not on Snapchat. Just never got on board with it.

What page are you currently obsessed with?

I like this page called thegoodquote on IG. I look for them every day because there’s always something that I take from it.

“I like this page called thegoodquote on IG. I look for them every day because there’s always something that I take from it.”

What question are you asked most by fans?

Probably split between how was it to work with Tupac [in Juice], and is there going to be a Love & Basketball 2.

What’s your current fashion obsession?

I don’t really go with the trends. I’m always looking for dope sneakers. I have different favorite pairs depending on how I’m feeling. I’m feeling Rick Owens right now.

What’s the last show you binge-watched?


Which pro athlete would you never want to trade places with?

Ryan Leaf. That was random, but people who know football are gonna laugh.

Do you ever get tired of the Mike Tomlin comparisons?

Yes, I am over it. I think we need to meet and do something on camera and people will be over it. Because whenever the Steelers play, oh, it just drives me crazy. My Twitter blows up and I’m like OK, I get it.

If you could go to dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Alive, Barack Obama. Dead, probably Frank Sinatra.

Frank Sinatra?

Oh, I want legendary parties. I want to get the blueprint [laughs].

Who would you want to play you in your biopic?

I would want it to be like an undiscovered talent. Someone who we don’t know.

“I got bit by a dog. I never thought that’d happen.”

What’s the last concert you went to?

Last concert was the Bad Boy Reunion Tour.


The first concert I went to, I wasn’t a kid. I was already a teenager. I want to say it was A Tribe Called Quest.

What is one thing you did in the past year that you never thought you’d do?

I got bit by a dog. I never thought that’d happen.

What’s at the top of your playlists these days?

Right now, that Frank Ocean album [Blonde]. I’m vibing with that.

Where do you get your serious news? Entertainment news?

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times. Twitter is for instant breaking news. I still read the Associated Press, but they’re so lagging behind that I’m starting to get tired of that.

Where does your courage come from?

How do you not have courage? I love defeating the challenge, whatever challenge that may be. That’s where it comes from.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.