Coming off smash musical “Hamilton,” in which he originated the dual role of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in 2015, Anthony Ramos dove into his first small-screen role as Mars Blackmon on “She’s Gotta Have It.” Reviving Spike Lee’s original role from the 1986 film of the same name, as a New York-loving sneaker aficionado turned social-media phenomenon, connects to Ramos’ own Brooklyn roots, so it’s no wonder he was a standout among Nola’s (DeWanda Wise) admirers.
Ramos: “Spike came to ‘Hamilton’ like eight times [but] we first met at the Public Theater Off Broadway. Spike was in the second row. The show had just finished and the audience stood up and gave us a standing ovation, and Spike is clapping mad aggressively and pointing, and turns out he was pointing at me. I think he’s pointing at me, but I’m not sure, I don’t know why he’s pointing at me, but that’s kind of cool, and he comes backstage and we meet for the first time and it was pretty brief.
“And then like a month later I get a phone call, and it’s just like, ‘Anthony it’s Spike, Spike Lee. Call me back.’ That’s it, that was literally the extent of the voicemail. I was like ‘Oh s—, Spike called me, that’s crazy.’ I go meet him at his office in NYU and just hung out and we kicked it really for like an hour. In that first meeting was when he gave me that idea of me potentially playing the role of Mars in a new TV show that he was doing called ‘She’s Gotta Have It,’ which was a remake of a movie he made in 1986. I didn’t know anything about the movie — I’d never seen it — but I was like, ‘Wow, all right cool,’ and then six months later I finally put myself on tape for Netflix.
“Working with Spike is like a dream, honestly. Being from Brooklyn he’s like the man out here — he’s like the dude that really put us on the map as far as films are concerned and really gave Brooklyn to the world through film, showed what Brooklyn is and who Brooklyn is. Being on set, people ask me all the time, ‘Did you ever feel any pressure remaking his role?’ and I’m like, ‘Nah, I never felt any pressure because he didn’t put any pressure on me.’ I got to set and it was 100% like, ‘Just fly kid, do your thing.’
“I was meeting every famous person, any kind of influencer you could think I probably met. So when people were saying [about the show] ‘Oh my god, this is so big,’ I’m like yeah, but I just came from doing the biggest musical in history. That was 100% coincidental to be a part of that, which is a blessing and most artists don’t get to have that experience before they go into a big TV show.”
“My next few years I really want to focus on doing impactful work, things that say something. If I was able to get into ‘Avengers’ or something, though, that’s cool, too. I just want to do as many pieces of art that are different from the last thing, I want people to say ‘I didn’t know he could do that — oh well he did it’. How many times can I make people say ‘I didn’t know he could’ — that’s really where I’m at. I’m just trying to do it all.”