Last year, Lance Alexander started his first recurring role in the Netflix series Family Reunion as Elvis and has seen the show be nominated for a number of awards including a Primetime Emmy, and win at the Writers Guild of America, USA for the episode Remember Black Elvis. Netflix screened a special called Game On! A Comedy Crossover Event this month which Lance was part of with the Family Reunion cast, filming alongside other Netflix comedies – The Big Show Show, Mr. Iglesias and The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia. During quarantine, Lance began regularly uploading videos to his popular TikTok account @thelancealexander, and when he isn’t acting, he enjoys volunteering with Best Buddies International and Boys & Girls Club of America. Lance answers our questions about playing Elvis in Netflix series Family Reunion, taking part in Game On! A Comedy Crossover Event and uploading videos to TikTok.
You play Elvis in Family Reunion, can you tell us about your character?
Yes, Elvis is fun-loving, loves the Lord and is extremely carefree – just like me! Elvis is very active in his church and loves vacation Bible school. Elvis is a well-mannered teen with a big loving heart, who is always up for a good time! He is a little timid at times especially when it comes to breaking the rules. Elvis is also an entrepreneur and I would like to consider myself one as well. I tried to corner the market on fidget spinners once at school!
How did it feel booking the role and what is the series like to film?
When I booked the role of Elvis, I was over the moon with excitement. It was a rather lengthy audition process, but well worth the wait. I’m certain my team still remembers the phone call and my reaction. In this business you get a lot of no’s and I have learned not to focus on those, however, when someone says yes, I never forget the details. Filming this series has been tons of fun but the schedule can be somewhat of a grind but it’s all part of the process and I am grateful for all of it.
What has the audience response been like to the series and your character?
One of scariest moments in this business for me, is audience feedback. As an actor you hope and pray people will like the vibe and energy of your character. Before COVID-19, Family Reunion taped in front of a live audience and I’m telling you the audience response meant everything. When you’re a comedian, laughter feeds your soul. I fed off the energy in the building, it kept me hyped and working for each laugh. I have read a few reviews and received direct messages on Instagram filled with excitement and support for the show. We are all very grateful for another season.
What do you enjoy most about working on a Netflix series?
Working on a Netflix series has been epic, certainly the highlight of my career. The cast, crew, directors and writers are all fun to work with. The creator Meg DeLoatch sets an example of excellence for each of us to follow, the energy on set is magical. Everyone is encouraging and supportive and for young actors, on set support means everything. I consider Family Reunion a teaching set, because the seasoned stars and directors are always patient and willing to spend time mentoring and teaching.
Have you had any stand-out moments from your time on set?
I would certainly have to say our Season One wrap party was one of the most fulfilling moments for me. The season was full of laughter and hard work yet, that night, all I could recall was the laughter from the season. Having the opportunity to look back over the season and celebrate with everyone made me feel special and I realised what an incredible ride I was on.
Can you tell us about Game On! A Comedy Crossover Event on Netflix you appeared in recently?
Netflix created a brilliant comedy event Game On!, which unites the casts from four of its family sitcoms. The crossover includes The Big Show Show, Mr. Iglesias, The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia and Family Reunion.
What was the crossover event like to be part of?
The crossover event was an absolute blast to film, the formula is brilliant. Each sitcom independently delivers an insane amount of comedy so the crossover was a winning recipe. It was extra cool for me because the writers developed my character more during the crossover by introducing some of Elvis’ family members.
How was it filming for an episode of Teachers?
When I booked the role of Herbert on Teachers I submitted a self-tape, and it simply blew my mind when my manager called and asked to speak with “Herbert”, that’s how I learned I booked the role. Self-tapes are extra stressful for me because you only get one shot, no opportunity for casting to redirect or opportunity to build the relationship. The Teachers set was absolutely one of my favourites, this role allowed me an opportunity to demonstrate my ability to deliver some non-verbal comedy. The director was extremely laid-back and my scene was an absolute riot to film.
You played Cosmo in an episode of Raven’s Home, who is your character and how was it appearing in the show?
Yes, that was Season Two, the Because episode where my character Cosmo was a student at George Washington Carver Community School. He is among the kids that gather in the gym to greet Booker after Sienna reveals that he is psychic. Cosmo is the first to ask Booker for proof that he is psychic and also the first to join Sienna in denouncing Booker as a fake psychic, as well as the one who urges his classmates to begin chasing after the Baxter twins by yelling, “Get ’em!”. I remember that call like it was yesterday because Raven’s Home was my favourite Disney show. I was a little starstruck when I met Raven because I was also a big fan of her work on The Cosby Show. Being on Raven’s Home was a dream come true.
Have you always enjoyed acting and how did you get into it?
Funny enough, in the beginning I never actually dreamed of becoming an actor! As a young kid, I was always involved with theater and arts, I enjoyed school plays and summer theatre performances but I didn’t really know acting was a “career”. Back then it was just something that kept me highly engaged. I got serious about acting in 2017 and told my mom I wanted “to be on TV”. She agreed to let me try some modelling first and submitted my photos to Wings Model Management, Inc. Jake Lang (owner of Wings) believed that I had a personality that belonged on TV. I started to take classes and participated in a Model & Talent Expo in Dallas, Texas. Before I left for Texas, Jake suggested I should join in a workshop being given by a talent manager and talent agent who both worked for many years in Los Angeles. The workshop was a success and, with no prior acting experience and only five months of training, we headed to Hollywood at their requests. So, we credit Wings, MC Talent and AKA Talent Agency with helping me on this journey! Some days it doesn’t seem real, I look around sometimes and ask my mom “How in the world did we end up here?”.
What do you look for in a role and how do you prepare to play a character?
The main element I look for in a character is how relatable our personalities and traits are. Fortunately, I have been very blessed that my breakout role as Elvis resembles me a lot! The way I prepare for auditions is research, research and more research. I find out as much as I can about the project and the specific character I’m auditioning for. Next, I tackle the “Memorization Beast”. I read the lines over and over so I know them like the back of my hand! If I’m lucky, I have more than one day to work on the lines, leaving a day to bring life into the character by putting my special spin on how I think the character should be portrayed. When all of this is happening, I throw my phone under the bed to minimise all distractions.
Do you have any favourite TV shows to watch?
When I get television time, I love watching The Flash and All American on The CW.
Can you tell us about your TikTok account?
Before quarantine, I really didn’t post to my TikTok account, but after a few months of being stuck in the house, boredom started taking over. I was bored, lonely and disappointed with how the pandemic was interrupting life in general, so I decided to start writing and posting skits. TikTok has definitely saved me by providing an avenue for me to entertain and put a smile on some faces. On my TikTok, I do a little bit of everything including dances with my family, but my page is mostly comedy skits! I base them on real life situations that I know others have experienced! My number one goal is to make people laugh, especially during these wild and crazy times. I have gained a mass following on TikTok in a short time span, and I am so very grateful for all the love I have been shown! Stop by and enjoy a laugh or two. My TikTok name is @thelancealexander.
How do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I love playing volleyball and it was one of the first activities I joined when I arrived in California! I like hitting the bike trails with my dad on the weekends and I am a serious chess player. Volunteering with Best Buddies International and Boys & Girls Club of America bring me great delight as often as my schedule permits.
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