Rolling Out

Actor to watch: ‘Bad Judge’s’ Tone Bell


When it comes to acting, we very seldom witness the transition of a true star from one craft to the next. One star who made it his mission to challenge the many presumptions we have about crossover stars, is Decatur, Georgia, native Tone Bell.

Since winning NBC’s coveted Stand Up for Diversity Program, Bell has made the most of his time in Hollywood, landing a gig on NBC’s “Bad Judge” alongside actress Kate Walsh in addition to recently selling an original comedy script to FX.

Bell, who began his rise to fame as a stand up comedian looking to crack a few jokes as a side gig, credits his success to learning the difference between talent and skill and using them accordingly. Recently, rolling out had the opportunity to sit down with the funny man who reflected on his biggest accomplishment to date and dropped a few nuggets for aspiring comedians. Check out our exclusive with the triple threat below. – ruthie hawkins/@ruubabie

Who or what inspired you to become a comedian?
I’ve always loved the craft of stand-up. I grew up watching Cosby, Murphy, Carlin, etc. I’m still a huge Sinbad and Ralph Harris fan. But, it wasn’t until years after my uncle and a buddy from high school told me I should give stand up a try that I actually did it. I started my comedy career in Dallas, after moving for a corporate gig and needed what at the time was suppose to be a hobby.

Who are your role models?
I’m big fan of the way Adam Sandler has maneuvered his career. He’s a Hollywood quarterback. As long as you show up for practice and work hard, you’re gonna get in the game. (Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of others that have similar traits. Adam just happens to be my example.)

Who do you consider the top three comedians of all time and why?
Patrice O’Neal, Bill Cosby, Bill Burr (Ask me two years from now, it could change. This question is always a setup).

Where do you see yourself five  years from now?
I’ll still be funny. I’ll still be acting. I’ll still be writing. What will be new on the resume are the collegiate and corporate educational-entertaining speeches I plan to start to encourage and inspire those wanting to follow a dream that seems impossible. There’s so much we need to know about financial freedom, true networking, purpose of education, etc… while being able to have fun doing it.

What is your dream role?
I can’t say. I haven’t written it, yet.

What is your biggest career accomplishment to date?
To date … probably working with Reggie Hudlin. I’ve been a fan for years, and he became a fan of mine the week we worked together, and now we’re planning to do something together.

What have been the biggest obstacles you’ve faced on your rise to fame?
It’s often difficult to justify turning down paid work, because so many people live for fame and money in this career. I could care less about either, so there’s no way to idolize them. I have so much fun, and currently work with talented people I enjoy … It’s crazy to me, I get paid to do this.

What advice would you give to aspiring comedians?
My advice would be to not take any advice. Ask questions along the way, but no one’s path is the same. I don’t know … learn the difference between being influenced and imitating? That nugget will get you far.

How do you feel about Mike Epps being the favorite to play Richard Pryor in Lee Daniels upcoming biopic?
I think Eppsie will be the owner of a tiny gold statue by the time the credits roll.

What are three rules you live by when it comes to achieving success?
There are no rules.
“Why can’t I”
Talent and skill are different, learn to use both accordingly.

What are you currently working on?
Currently cocreating a show for FX, with writing partner and comedian Mark Agee.

Where can fans follow your journey?

Photo credit: Paul Abraham

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Newsletter

Sign up for Rolling Out news straight to your inbox.

Read more about:
Also read
Rolling Out