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Actor Will Catlett says, memorizing phone numbers in the ‘90s > butt shots and six-pack abs in 2018
What does Will Catlett have in common with his '90s character Yasir from the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Love Is __? They fell in love at first sight and in one night. In this interview with YR Media's
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media's Adult ISH podcast (episode 3 - Life ISH).
Merk: For those who haven't seen Love Is ___ yet, can you tell us about your character?
Will: Yasir is an everyday man looking for an opportunity. He has a lot of talent and knows what he wants, but sometimes life gets in the way. On one of the episodes he says, "I don't need another woman. I need a win. I need an opportunity."
Nyge: As soon as [I finished watching the show], I invited all the homies to my house to watch the first episode and everybody was trippin’. You know that long scene [where Yasir] and Nuri are in the coffee shop until early in the morning? Everybody's like "No! She wouldn't fall for him" because Nuri has a successful job and bought a new house and Yasir was basically homeless. How realistic is it they they would fall in love in one night?
Will: It happened to me with my wife! We were talking in a car, talking for four hours and I was like, "I always told myself when I find my wife I was going to ask her 'What took you so long?'" So I said, "What took you so long?" She said, "I don't know. But I'm here now."
Nyge: So you were just kicking it in the car? Or were you friends before that?
Will: We were at this place called the Artist's Resource Center and she gave me a hug. I'm like, “Why is this woman hugging me like I'm her husband?” That led to, "Hey, let's go to dinner. Let me follow this feeling. If there is nothing after dinner, then I'll just leave it alone.” After that dinner conversation, it led to us in the car for four hours and it was just real. Something on a whole ‘nother level. I am Yasir, I guess.
Nyge: You can't ignore the beautiful display of black love on the show. All the ‘90s jams, the wardrobes, you walking around in Calvin Klein underwear. Besides black•ish, I feel like there's not a lot of positive black love in mainstream media. Why do you think that is?
Will: I don't really get into the narrative of whether there's a black love or whether it’s this color love. What we did with Love Is ___ is just seeing black folks on TV [being] regular. Having regular conversations, having regular situations like everybody else. A lot of times we are characterized as over dramatic. This is just a story about two people falling in love.
Merk: You and Yasir have a lot of commonalities in your real life. I've read that you're both spiritual, confident, and comfortable in your own skin. Were you always like that?
Will: I think we are who we are before we get here. Jay Z said, “You can try to change, but it is just the top layer.” I think along the way, you [can] get lost with people pleasing. I had that epiphany around 22 years old where I was playing ball in college. I was like, "Man. I got cut three times in high school. Imma show everybody that I can make [it]. Imma prove them wrong." Then I realized no one cares. Do what you want to do.
Nyge: How different is dating in the ‘90s versus dating in 2018?
Will: The only difference is authenticity. You didn't have to have six-pack abs in the ‘90s. You was just you. This is before most of the implants and butt shots. And then you didn't have ways to cheat to say you liked somebody. What I mean by that is now we can text and DM. Back then, you didn't have it like that. You had to know a phone number by heart or you had to communicate through other people.
You had to really show that you [were] interested in somebody. I don't think social media is bad, but we live in images of people on Instagram and we think that is reality, when it is not.
Merk: If you could go back in time and speak your mind to your less adult ish self, what would you say?
Will: I would tell my younger self that everything changes. Life is in cycles. Be patient. That's probably what I would say to my younger self because nobody really told me that. And I think I would add to that, work your gift. Not your knowledge, not your wisdom, but your gift because that is unique to you.