Actor Interview: Alimi Ballard

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To Alimi, “Acting has always been more than mere entertainment. It was a tool of empowerment, inspiration, and education. It let a sixteen year old kid from the Bronx know that there was something that he could do with his time other than hanging out with his boys. It taught me the power of creativity, the value of hard work, and the complete joy of knowing what you do makes a difference in another’s life.�

Alimi Ballard got his start in showbiz when he wandered through the doors of MindBuilders, a local community center dedicated to the empowerment of youth, and was cast in a play called No Laughing Matter. Weeks later, he found himself touring New York’s inner-city libraries, community centers, elementary and high schools. He soon set his sights on a professional career and came to perform with such notable theatre companies as the Manhattan Theatre Club and the National Black Theatre, where he starred in acclaimed productions of Holiday Heart and Endangered Species.

Alimi is a seasoned performer whose presence has been felt on television, stage and screen. Presently, he can be seen on CBS’s hit Friday night drama Numb3rs. In the role of agent David Sinclair, he’s part of an elite FBI task force that tracks down criminals with the help of a high level mathematical genius.

Previously, Ballard was last seen as a passionate Muslim businessman on NBC’s hit drama “American Dreams.â€? And on the now defunct FOX series “Dark Angelâ€? Alimi played Herbal Thought, a character with a special blend of humor and island wit. On ABC’s hit television show, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,â€? he played Quizmaster Albert, where his job was to add both fun and mayhem to the mix.  Prior to that role, he played Matthew, the younger brother of Vivica Fox on ABC’s “Arsenio.â€?

Ballard’s other television credits are extensive: “C.S.I..,� “NYPD Blue,� “Boomtown,� “Philly,� “Nash Bridges,� “She Spies,� “The Division,� “For the People,� to name a few. But the breakout recurring role which really kick started his care was his portrayal of the troubled Frankie Hubbard, on ABC’s daytime drama, “Loving.� On the big screen, Alimi’s film credits include Men of Honor and Deep Impact.

To Alimi, “Acting has always been more than mere entertainment. It was a tool of empowerment, inspiration, and education. It let a sixteen year old kid from the Bronx know that there was something that he could do with his time other than hanging out with his boys. It taught me the power of creativity, the value of hard work, and the complete joy of knowing what you do makes a difference in another’s life.� Alimi resides in Los Angeles with his wife and their newborn baby.

BSN: What’s it like working on a TV series? I’ve always heard that the schedule is very demanding.
AB: Well, if you get a 12-hour day, that’s a nice day. That’s an easy day. You can expect to be in by six AM and out by 6 PM.

BSN: Didn’t I hear that you and your wife, Dahn, recently had a baby, too?
AB: Yes, a six-month old daughter.

BSN: Congratulations! What’s her name?
AB: Naya.

BNS: So, what’s it like being a father for the first time?
AB: I gotta’ be honest with you. It’s lovely, man. You think it’s overrated, but it happened to me. You just fall in love. I’m in love with her, man.

BSN: Are you getting any sleep?
AB: If I can pull down six hours, that’s nice. Sometimes, I have a day off here and there, so it balances itself out. But between the baby and the television show, it is demanding, but it’s the kind of demanding that you look forward to, the kind that you work hard for to be able to have in your life.

BSN: I know you’re from The Bronx, what high school did you attend?
AB: I went to Harry S. Truman, man, right there in Coop City.

BSN: How did you get inspired to try acting?
AB: I wasn’t doing anything during the summer of ‘89, and a friend of the family asked me if I had a job. He suggested that I come by a theater company called The Positive Youth Troop and try out.

BSN: And how did you get your start in showbiz?
AB: I did a soap opera in New York called Loving. That was really great. And after that was over, I was trying to figure out where to go next, and my agent encouraged me to go out to Los Angeles, even though I was very nervous about it.

BSN: Tell me a little about your character, David Sinclair, on Numb3rs.
AB: They made my character from The Bronx, which is really fun. David Sinclair is a tough FBI agent with a salt-of-the-earth, working-class background. He has a lot of passion and enthusiasm. At the end of the day, he gets a lot of joy from his work, whether taking down a serial killer, a pedophile or a white collar criminal. I can really relate to the way he’s grounded, like a regular person, the kind of guy you grew up. He loves his job, takes it seriously, but also likes to have a good time.

BSN: Which type of roles do you prefer, comedy or drama?
AB: I’d have to say drama, right now. But comedy’s great, too. There’s nothing like making people laugh. There’s nothing like it in the world. But right now, I prefer drama.

BSN: How do you like living in Los Angeles?
AB:  I love it!

BSN: If you don’t mind, let me ask you the Jimmy Bayan question. Where in L.A. do you live?

BSN: I just moved up to the Valley, actually.
KW: Do you miss New York?
AB: I miss my family, my mom, especially. But I left the city when it was a good time for me to leave.

BSN: How often do you get noticed?
AB: In New York, I do. But there are so many TV shows that shoot in Los Angeles, it’s common to encounter celebrities walking down the street. I know where to see Tom Cruise, if I go to the right restaurant.

BSN: So, you can do normal things like go to a supermarket or a movie theater?
AB: Absolutely. I have a ways to go before I get to that point. I’m very happy about where I’m at. I love my freedom and being able to roam where I want to roam anytime I feel like it. And I think it can be a thorn in your side when you reach a level where you no longer have that flexibility.
BSN: What did you think about what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?
AB: To be frank with you, that devastated me. I was depressed for weeks. I sent my prayers and my donations to help those who had to live through it. I wish I could do more, because it broke my heart.

 

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