Omar Gooding

Interview with Omar Gooding: Finding Your Lane

It is very rare for young boys to live out their childhood dreams, and make it their life long profession. Omar Gooding always wanted to be in entertainment. Since a child, he's built quite the impressive resume. The secret to the consistency was finding his lane.
Written By: Adam Higgins

“I always thought I was going to do something entertaining.”

Omar Gooding sits on a set made to look like the interior of a modest home in Windsor Hills, CA – Upper Crenshaw some might call it. Family Time is the number one show on the fastest growing black network, Bounce TV.  The half hour sitcom is a hybrid between the Cosby Show and Good Times, but shoved into the skinny jean modern era.

Gooding plays Tony Stallworth, a general contractor who won the lottery from a scratch off, and relocates his family to the good side of Slauson Boulevard. Tony Stallworth is a cool-sneaker-wearing-video-gaming type dad that has to circumvent his self-inflicted shenanigans. Often causing a comedic volley with his wife, Lisa Stallworth played by Angell Conwell.

“The show is fun. The writing is excellent. It’s current. It’s edgy. We tackle topics like the rise of social media, young parents raising children, and managing finances.” Gooding continues, “It’s a real strong cast. It is a family oriented show you can watch with the whole family, and you don’t need to give your kids earmuffs or send them out the room.”

With the show in its third season, the chemistry amongst the cast is clicking. At times the director wants Gooding and cast to slightly go off script, improvise, and integrate their comedic flavor.

Comedy is not a problem for Gooding. Sitcom comedy comes quite natural. “Comedy is my lane”, as Gooding puts it. You can’t disagree. Check the resume – well over a dozen comedic sitcoms on his vitae. Not too many men can say they have 25 years of experience in their profession at age 38.

“I know what I’m good at. I know the type of roles my fans will like and something I’ll be proud of, and the type of shows I can watch with my family. Something my mother will proud of.”

Gooding always had the entertainment bug. As early as 8 years old, he remembers being in school plays. He’d jump into cyphers on the playground to kick a rhyme or two with the older kids. He performed at talent shows. He has a vivid memory performing Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew's The Show.

“I always thought I was going to do something entertaining.”

“I go out now, and people will say, ‘Man that Baby Boy [character] was so strong the way you portrayed it’. I’ve seen grown men come to tears, and say ‘Bruh you was telling my story.’ That means a lot to me.”

The entertainment bug may be more of a genetic predisposition. His father Cuba Gooding Sr. is the lead singer in the R&B Soul group Main Ingredient. Gooding’s older brother Cuba Gooding Jr. is an Academy Award winning actor that has a bevy of blockbuster feature films in his resume.

His break happens while doing a favor for his brother. At 10 years old, his brother’s career is fire. While driving and running errands with Cuba, Cuba sends Gooding to pick up a script at his agent’s office. The agent spots Gooding.

“I’m grinning from ear to ear, and she says ‘You got a great smile’”.

The agent ask Gooding if he wants to try acting. With his mother’s permission after some persuasive begging, he goes out on two auditions, and he books his first gig with McGruff the Crime Dog.

“So we were like ‘Alright we booked one out of two. Not bad. Let’s give it a try.’ The rest is history after [McGruff the Crime Dog]. I just got the bug after that.”

A few years later, he lands a regular role on Wild and Crazy Kids.  Then, he lands Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. One of the executive producer from Hangin' with Mr. Cooper starts a new series Smart Guy, and he lands that gig too. From his early teens to 22 he’s works consistently on sitcoms.

“My career was non-stop.”

While building a consistent resume on television, John Singleton gives Gooding a call to take a read for Baby Boy. Baby Boy, the coming-of-age conscious drama that tackles masculinity of young men in the hood. A film with gangs, guns, violence, and rape is far from a comedy sitcom. Baby Boy is a shift in Gooding’s career to help round out his acting chops and showcase his versatility as an actor.

“I go out now, and people will say, ‘Man that Baby Boy [character] was so strong the way you portrayed it’. I’ve seen grown men come to tears, and say ‘Bruh you was telling my story.’ That means a lot to me.”

These affirmation makes him happy with his project choices. Since Baby Boy, Gooding has acted in a number of sitcoms and films. He’s happy that his body of work helps people laugh, cry or think. He just wants you to be entertained.

“I’m most proud of my body of work. I try not to compromise. I try not to do something just for the money. I stay selective and picky with the roles that I choose. When someone says ‘Keep up the good work.’ I take that to heart, and that means people are enjoying the choices I’ve made.”