Conversation with Lance Gross

Lance Gross was kind enough to sit down with us and talk about Tyler Perry's new hit family comedy House of Payne.

Q: How did you get involved in House of Payne?
A: I met Tyler Perry a year ago in Los Angeles. He “discovered” me in a Sunday night acting class taught by actress Tasha Smith. That evening I performed a scene from Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, and he was impressed by the performance. Ever since then we remained in contact as he was searching for a project that would be a perfect fit for me and my talents. House of Payne was the job.

Q: Describe your character and his relationship to the Payne family.
A: Calvin Payne is the 25-year-old son of Curtis and Ella Payne. He is the only child and very spoiled. He is also the ultimate hustler. He’s still living off his parents, his dad pays his bills, his mom does his laundry, and he freeloads their food. Calvin’s a big kid, and he is afraid of the real world and taking on the responsibility of an adult. These factors contribute to why he is still in college. He’s a mama’s boy and can go to her for anything. His relationship with his father, Curtis, is a little more complex. Even though deep down inside there is that father/son relationship, it’s stressed by the fact that Curtis is Calvin’s main push to step out into the real world and be a man. So his father’s eager frustration with him actually “growing up” causes conflict. Calvin views CJ as somewhat of a big brother, but sometimes they collide. Deep down Calvin feels like CJ has intruded on his space and benefits. Being that CJ and his family have moved into his parent’s house, that means he’s forced to share the wealth. But Calvin loves his cousins, Malik and Jazmine. He’s just as equally a ladies man as he is a hustler. He also uses the fact that he’s a firefighter (really a volunteer) to his advantage with the ladies.

Q: What is so realistic about House of Payne?
A: The thing that is so realistic about House of Payne is the family relationship. Nothing is sugar coated. This series deals with real situations and problems families go through. It’s like you’re spying on the family next door. Everyone isn’t always chipper in the morning at breakfast; that just isn’t reality. Tyler Perry really gives you an inside look at the day in the life of a family in America. It’s the love, the warmth, the struggle, the pain and most of all the humor at the end of the day.

Q: What is it like working with Tyler Perry?
A: AMAZING! What more needs to be said? I don’t think Tyler Perry has received the credit he deserves, because the man is brilliant. Just sitting working with him in a table read is a show in itself, with him coming up with jokes for rewrites off the top of his head. Every day we come to set we’re entertained by him constantly quoting lines from The Color Purple or other movies like Eddie Murphy’s Norbit, in character though. The man is hilarious. As a director, he’s patient and allows the actor to bring that extra voice to the character. I really enjoy working with him.

Q: Why should audiences watch House of Payne?
A: The show is hilarious. The characters are very likeable, and people can relate to their stories and want to watch and see the outcome.

Q: Why is House of Payne a good fit for TBS?
A: TBS’ headline is: Very Funny. This show is Very Funny!

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