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Salute Interview: HBO’s Ballers Actor Kris Lofton on Elevated Status

Its Lofton’s time to ball

Actor Kris Lofton joins HBO‘s Ballers for the show’s third season. Entering the locker room as Kisan Teague, the young and wild football player.

Even more intimidating is stepping on set with actors who dominate the show Dwayne “The Rock” JohnsonRob Corddry, John David Washington, Omar Benson Miller, London Brown, and Donovan Carter.

The popular show has gotten many positive reviews. One of the reasons why the NFL comedic-drama is so popular is because a lot of the actors and guest stars have been competitive athletes at some point in their lives. And viewers simply can’t get enough of Dwayne’s charm.

Kris is joining the cast with experience as a high school athlete who excelled at multiple sports. He’s also a talented actor, who’s been acting since a young age.

kisanSome of his most notable work includes the films like Hardball, which starred Keanu Reeves, and Tyler Perry‘s Meet the Browns. 

He’s also appeared on several television series including BET‘s The Quad, FOX‘s Empire, The Game, and Single Ladies.

Now we get to see him on Season 3 of Ballers, premiering Sunday, July 23 at 10 PM ET/PT, exclusively on HBO.

Salute: Can you please explain your role as Kisan Teague on the upcoming season of HBO’s Ballers

Kris: I play Kisan Teague. I play a kind of rebel-type street dude from the hood of Miami. There’s a town in Miami called Overtown, like the projects of Miami.

And I’m an NFL running back. I’m one of those guys who still has those “Clinger-on’ kind of entourage, and it may not be the greatest idea for me to have those type of friends at the capacity my life has gotten to.

My character is torn between staying true to that and trying to elevate to the level that he knows he can be at. I think it’s a fun character to play

Salute: You were a former high school athlete. Did you use any of that experience to connect with your character?

Kris: I definitely did. I played in high school and I opted out of going to college and continuing to play. I drew a lot of who Kisan was going to be from the locker room in high school, and a lot of my friends who still play ball.

I drew characteristics and personalities traits from myself when I played. And a lot of other people who were in that locker room that I ran into through the process. So yes, that definitely helped me a bit.

Salute: What are some of the similarities between yourself and Kisan.

Kris: I think we have a few similarities. I think we are alike in a lot of ways. One way being that, I don’t think that neither one of us takes shit from anybody. Like no matter who they are, mamma, daddy, sister, brother, cousin, boss it doesn’t matter.

I also felt that at one point, and I’m still getting better with it as the days go by, but both of us kind of have ‘survivor’s remorse’ if you will. I kind of made it out and a lot of my friends didn’t

I kind of made it out and a lot of my friends didn’t. So I feel obligated to keep them along. I feel like we’re the same in that aspect. He’s a little more wild than I am because I’ve calmed down a little bit. But, we definitely got a lot in common.

Salute: Were you a fan of the show before you became a part of the cast?

Kris: Oh yes, definitely! I definitely was a fan of the show, because Entourage is my favorite show of all time. And the guys who created Entourage are the same creator, writer, and executive producer of Ballers. So I follow everything and anything that they do.

Honestly, I told my friends that it was the biggest thing in my head when I found out that I had got this role, that the biggest thing to me was ‘I can’t mess up one of my favorite shows.’

I didn’t care about nothing else. I just can’t go on there and mess up one of my favorite shows. So that gave me that added pressure, that fuel that I need. And it worked out.

Salute: If you don’t mind me asking, who is your favorite character?

Kris: One of my favorite characters on the show is definitely Ricky Jerret, played by John David Washington. And I like Joe, played by Rob Corddry. Those are my two favorite characters. Ricky is dope. Obviously, he’s one of the fan favorites because he’s such a wild card. He’s the young one, he’s flashy, he’s crazy. He’s entertaining to watch.

And Joe is just hilarious. I like all of his [Rob Corddry] work. I’ve watched pretty much every movie that he was in, and I love him.

Salute: I know you started out at a young age, acting in the film Hardball. What made you decide to come back to acting after taking a break?

Kris: I don’t feel like I took a break. I can see how someone can think that though. I think now I’m back to a certain capacity. I’d say that opposed to taking a break. Because in the midst of the gaps that it may look like on my resume, there were still commercials. But IMDB doesn’t list commercials, and they don’t list other things.

Since Hardball, [I had] to go through that emancipation process. To the point where you go grow a child actor to a grown man. And for some people, that transition can be detrimental to their careers.

It’s easy to sell a cute kid, you don’t even necessarily have to be that good of an actor. But once the cuteness wears off and you’re not a cute kid anymore, you’re a grown man. Now, it’s like ‘okay, can you actually act now?’ I think it took some time [to show] these casting directors [what I could do].

I think it took some time of just showing these casting directors and booking these jobs that I have booked. Staying active and staying persistent. That’s what it’s all about.

You just got to stay persistent in these people’s minds. And every job you do book, you got to just kill it. And it takes some time of doing that to the point of ‘Oh, okay. That’s that kid from Hardball. Oh, he can really act. Because it’s 20 years later and he’s still on TV.’

Salute: So you were still doing commercials while being a star athlete in high school?

Kris: Yeah. I would leave school sometimes early, going on auditions. I was still auditioning for movies, TV shows, and commercials. I was doing print ads, and still modeling at the time.

I was doing stuff all through high school. Sometimes I would have to leave school early, go to an audition or film a commercial. And then come back and try to make it on time to my baseball game. I was doing stuff like that.

Salute: What was your experience working on Empire?

Kris: Empire was a dope and crazy experience, all at the same time. It was surreal because I got on Empire early, Season 1. When I got on Empire I was invested in the potential of what it could be. And then once it actually aired, it should me it’s true potential. It felt surreal at the time. Being a young black man, we’ve watched Terrance Howard, we’ve watched Taraji [P. Henson]. We’ve seen all of their stuff, we love all of their stuff.

For me, it was big for the culture. Just to tell friends and family like, “Yo, I’m doing a TV show with Taraji and Terrance Howard. It was one of those things in the black community, that it held some weight. And it was just a super dope experience. I learned a lot from Terrance and Taraji. Lee Daniels was amazing. And have nothing but good things to say about Empire. I met some friends for life through that show.

Salute: What other projects are you currently working on?

Kris: Right now I have a few projects in the works. There are a couple things that I can’t talk about. I definitely can talk about the show that I have a guest star appearance on. I think maybe September or October, it’s called Get Shorty on Epix. There was a movie that they remade, remember the movie Get Shorty with John Travolta? They made that movie into a TV show for Epix network.

I’m getting ready to be on that. And I have a pilot that I filmed a few months back New York, that just won the for ‘Best Pilot’ at a film festival. So we have a few offers now for that pilot. And we should be gearing up to start filming the rest of those episodes sometime this winter. There’s a couple of other things in the works that I’m just working on, that I can’t really talk about.

Salute: What’s the best piece of acting advice that you’ve received?

Kris: I think the piece of acting advice I think I’ve ever gotten was from Lance Gross when I was filming Meet the Browns. I remember being on set with him and I was like, ‘Man, you’re doing your thing. I’m trying to get where you are.’ I gave him one of those on set and he was like, ‘Kris, dude I’m 28-years-old. This my first movie.’

He said, ‘Man, you 18, and this what your third or fourth movie? You gonna to be okay. I know you want it right now. I know you looking at your friends, they doing this and they doing that. But just wait it out. You 18 and this your fourth movie, I’m almost 30 and this my first time being in a movie. You got time. And then by the time you my age and you get another movie, you gonna already know this shit.’

And I think that was my best piece of advice. Just stay focus on your whole thing. And then he also told me to don’t worry so much about the words on the page. Who cares. Who really cares about the words on the page? It’s just a guideline.

Mostly I took from all of that, just be patient. But the way he said it and the way he worded it to me really resonated with me in a different way. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s true and crazy. You are almost 30.’He was 28 when we did Meet the Browns and I was 18. And he was telling me, just chill it’s coming.

Salute: What do you have going on outside of modeling and acting?

Kris: I write as well, and have my own production company. It’s called Kris D. Lofton productions. So I write, and I’ve been writing my pilots. I got some web series and some shorts, that I’ve been working on and getting ready to film. I’m also getting ready to launch my clothing line. I waiting until the Fall. Just some t-shirts, hats, and beanies. The name of my clothing line is called “Premature Millionaires.”

I’ve just been working. Just trying to maximize as much as I can off of everything else that has taken place in my life.

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