This reprinted interview was originally conducted by entertainment reporter Shamontiel L. Vaughn on June 23, 2009.
He’s 5’11 now and gained some muscles, but even without the trademark curly hair, 29-year-old actor Brandon Adams still looks the same as he did as a child star.
Adams was Dion in the TV sitcom “A Different World,” and in a slew of films, including playing Jimmy Bean in “Polly,” Poindexter ‘Fool’ Williams in “People Under the Stairs,” Kenny DeNunez in “Sandlot” and Jesse Hall in “Mighty Ducks” and “D2: The Mighty Ducks.” Diehard fans may remember Brandon Adams as Zeke ‘Baby Bad’ Michael from the Michael Jackson film, “Moonwalker.”
Adams has been acting since he was four years old (Pepsi commercial) and has over 30 different film, television and voiceover credits to his name, not counting the times he made repeat appearances on sitcoms like “Moesha,” “Sister, Sister” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” But after the 2001 film, “MacArthur Park,” Adams slowed down on his acting roles and disappeared.
“I just wanted some time off,” Adams explained. “I spent most of my young life in the business and missed out on school events. I needed to be a young person and do what I wanted to do.”
Although Adams was homeschooled as well as going to public school in his California residence, he had debates with his mother about going to high school. However, with the number of jobs he was getting and teachers not wanting to prepare early lesson plans, he lost that battle and homeschool won.
An old school R&B lover of artists like Michael Jackson and Rick James, Adams was supposed to release an R&B CD at the age of 14, but he said that never happened.
And while he proudly stated, “I can sing, I can hold a tune,” he loves dusties the most.
“I like the old school guys…the ones before my time that I listened to with my mother,” he said. “You can’t find that creativity anymore in the game.”
However, he is a fan of hip-hop music, especially that of rappers Nas, Jay-Z and the late Tupac Shakur. After finishing his high school credits, he started working in the background of the entertainment industry. Adams took screenwriting and directing classes, and under the alias B. Lee, he released a hip hop mixtape called “B. Lee H.D.”
While the acting roles slowed down and he continued with other non-acting goals, fans never heard about him on the news falling into the traps of other child actors, regardless of growing up in the inner city of Los Angeles where gangs are dominant.
“I grew up in Inglewood, L.A., and South Central,” Adams said. “I was always humbled by my situation. I would go on set and come home to my neighborhood and my block to my friends, and it would be a whole other story.”
He speculated that “gang culture is everyday life for kids growing up in the inner city of Los Angeles,” but he was never involved, although he had plenty of friends who were victims of gang violence.
Adams’ advice to kids who are being coaxed into gang life is the same advice he followed to avoid them: “Aim higher. Stay focused. Keep your mind on something positive because there’s nothing positive about gangs. (They) don’t bring anything to the table.”
Unfortunately while he was one of the lucky ones, his best friend Merlin Santana (most popularly known as Stanley, Rudy’s boyfriend, on “The Cosby Show” and Romeo on “The Steve Harvey Show”) was murdered on November 9, 2002, after a false accusation of rape, according to JET magazine.
“It was devastating,” Adams said, who has several photos on his Facebook and MySpace pages of him with Santana and wearing a shirt with Merlin Santana’s face. “It took me a long time to recover from that. (Merlin) was my best friend, and (the murder) was a senseless thing.”
And while Adams says he has some good friends in the entertainment industry, majority of his true friends aren’t in the business besides Santana, who Adams emphasized was the friend who “could’ve had anything that I had.”
According to a study completed by Northeastern University (Boston), between 2002 and 2007, homicides involving Black males grew by 31 percent and as perpetrators, 43 percent. With Adams’ loss of a best friend, the gang violence in Los Angeles and a 54 percent death increase in victims from the African-American male community due to gun violence, Adams’ newly released independent film, “Stuck in the Corners” about a young man whose friend was killed by gangs, is timely. “Stuck in the Corners” was written by Aurey Katz and released in May 2009.
But Adams will lighten the acting mood with his upcoming comedic film, “Wigger” that he starts working on next month. And even though he’s been gone for a minute, he still appreciates his fanbase.
When asked what is the best part about being a celebrity, he said, “It’s not the part of being a celebrity that’s so attractive to me. It’s being recognized for your accomplishments and what you’ve done…becoming closer to what you want to achieve in life.”
Adams also runs into his fair share of women who admit to having a crush on him when they were little.
“I was everybody’s little boyfriend when I was younger,” Adams said with a laugh. “It’s all good. It’s just love, you know. I’ll take the love. Give it to me.”
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