Ten vintage cameras sit on the tabletop, neatly aligned and ready to be used as props for rolling out’s cover shoot with actor Lance Gross. The cameras, which are part of Gross’ steadily growing collection, serve as a striking metaphor when examining the career path that Gross is currently embarking upon. No longer just the Tyler Perry alum with the big, magnetic smile, Gross has taken the past year to successfully transition to a life behind the camera as a photographer and an independent film producer.
But just like the vintage cameras, Gross’ approach has been very much old school, and he relies more on hard work and dedication than he does his powerful Hollywood connections. His goal is to garner the respect that he desires for his latest expressions of art, and to get there he has worked tirelessly to hone his craft.
After a year behind the lens, it was a bit of a culture shock for Gross to step back in front of the lens to pose for rolling out’s cameras. But ever the professional, Gross shook the rust off to deliver the goods on our ’70s-inspired shoot.
Below is an excerpt from our discussion shortly after his cover shoot was completed:
There continues to be all types of buzz surrounding your latest film, The Last Fall. Tell us about it.
The Last Fall is an independent [film] that I did with director Matthew Cherry, starring myself, Nicole Beharie, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Keith David and Harry Lennix. You know, there is just a lot of great talent in this film. I actually starred in it, and was a producer as well. It was the first project I produced, so this was a step in the right direction of me increasing the number of things under my belt.
And you have also been working very hard as a photographer as well. With all of the different seeds that you are planting, what is the one thing that you want to be remembered for?
A strong body of work! Or even more so than that, that I was a good role model for children … that means a lot to me.
Why is being a role model to children so important to you?
I grew up in Oakland, [Calif.], and I just remember how it was growing up there. I had my father, and he was an amazing man and an amazing role model, so I always wanted to mirror that … So when I got into this business, I told myself that I wanted to be somebody that little kids aspired to be like … I just think it’s real important — especially for young black males — because I look at the guidance that my father gave me. I had friends who didn’t have that growing up, and I see how they turned out compared to how I turned out, and it’s a big difference. So I think that I owe that to my father, because he played his part, he did what he was supposed to do, and he set a great example … I just want to keep continuing to set the example that my father set for me.
Do you ever think about becoming a father so you can pass down all of the things that your father taught you?
Oh yeah, of course! … I definitely want children. That’s important to me, so I just want to make sure that I’m completely prepared for it when that day comes.
When we told people that we were going to interview you, there were literally hundreds of women who swore that they were going to be the mother of your children. Have you grown accustomed to the amount of attention that you get from women?
No, it’s still a trip to me. It always feels new, and I can never get used to that. I mean, I’m humble … to me, I’m just a regular cat from Oakland, California. The attention is nice, though, and I really appreciate it. I appreciate every compliment, and never let any of it go to my head.
Let’s talk about this next chapter for Lance Gross. How do you see it playing out? In your perfect world, what would happen?
How does my next chapter play out? Well, I feel like I’m on a great path right now … it’s comfortable and it feels good. But I just want to take it up about 10 notches. If this chapter is supposed to include the next 31 years of my life, then I just want to up the stakes and do more. I want to direct, and I want to do more producing. I also want to write, shoot for the magazine, and have more acting roles. I want people to see me in a different light than what they saw me in with my first couple of jobs like “House of Payne,” Our Family Wedding and Meet the Browns … now I want to switch it up, and I think that it will be great.