*The TV One original feature “Ringside“ stars Tyler Lepley (“The Haves and the Have Nots,” “Baggage Claim”) as undefeated boxer Jaxon Hollie and explores the personal battles he faces outside of the ring while preparing for the biggest fight of his career. The drama also stars Allen Maldonado (“Black-ish,” “Survivor’s Remorse”) and Raney Branch (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Originals”), and EUR/Electronic Urban Report sat down with both actors ahead of the Sept. 4 premiere, where Maldonado revealed that because of his love for the sport, he didn’t have to reach far in order to get inside the head of his character Spencer, a welterweight champion.
“This particular character was kinda close to me already as far as the boxing aspect, and ya know — he has several baby mommas in the film. I don’t have any kids but, but that was something you definitely have to reach for and kinda understand as an actor. But the character was pretty close to me so it wasn’t really a thing of being difficult, it was understanding what I wanted to do, as far as adding the comedy element to it,” Maldonado said.
He continued, “I didn’t want him to be too serious and I wanted him to have fun. As you see with all of these big time boxers with this enormous amount of money. Yeah, they fight and get serious in the ring but outside of that, they’re having a ball. They’re enjoying life, almost to their detriment as they spend all their money up. So I wanted to add that aspect to him and kind of bring some comedy in also with some serious moments.”
Maldonado trained for nearly two month to get in primo shape for the role — consuming a diet of primarily “turkey ground beef and coconut water.” He also said that the work he put in with a personal trainer was “pretty extensive.”
“I’ve been boxing for over five years now, so I stay in pretty good shape. So when I got the phone call about the film, it was just taking it to another level. I was training while writing “Survivors Remorse.” I’d wake up at six o’clock in the morning, train for two hours, go write and then get off and do four hours of training after.”
At no time did it become too method between Allen and his co-star Lepley as they roughed each other up on the set.
“I spar on the regular. I love boxing. As crazy as it sounds, I don’t mind getting hit. So as far as the boxing aspect, that was a dream come true,” said Allen. “Something I do as a hobby, to be able to incorporate it with something I love and what I do as a profession, it was a dream come true. We had a great time getting in the ring.”
He met his co-star Raney for the first time on set, and both stars said they immediately connected “like family,” in part because of their passion for giving back to their communities.
“I think we just connected because we both are very involved with youth activities, mentoring and things like that,” Raney said. “So that’s something we bonded over. Also, he’s just silly. That helped. We would say something, ‘I feel like I’ve known you forever.’”
Branch explained how she “loved the opportunity to play a complex character.” The savory role allowed the actress to show that she’s more than just a pretty face.
“Usually, when you’re the ingénue in a part, all you are is a pretty face, but [you] get to actually see another side of my story.”
Fans may gasp at the “terrible” thing she does — NO SPOILERS — but Branch says viewers will “get to understand why” she does what she does in the film.
“That’s what I loved about Indera. She got to be a whole person, which is not usually an opportunity that female characters get to have in very male driven stories.”
Branch admits that she prefers to watch boxing when there’s “beer involved, and bunch of people and chicken wings and fries. I’m more of an MMA girl.”
We asked Allen what makes “Ringside” so unique compared to the boxing films that have come out within the last couple of years, most recently “Hands of Stone,” as well as “Southpaw” and “Creed.”
“Boxing is the backdrop. It’s about an individual and him dealing with the things that come with boxing. The lifestyle of boxing. The obstacles of boxing. It shows a different take on what’s going with the family that is going along with this boxer, and how he has to deal with all of the issues within that,” Allen explained.
He also noted how “people are really going to enjoy the dynamic of the cast and their chemistry.”
Branch added that writer director Russ Parr did a great job at creating a story that has its serious moments, but will also make you laugh.
“When I read my sides to the story I thought it was a drama, but I got to the table read [and ] it was laugh out loud funny,” she said. “So I think audiences are going to be excited about the fact that you laugh, you cry, you gasp, and you get to know about all of us.”
In addition to this TV One original feature, Raney and two of her female friends are working on a comedy webseries that she co-wrote and is co-producing. She describes it as “a spoof of beyond scared straight.”
You can also catch Allen in the upcoming seasons of “Blackish” and “You’re the Worse,” as well as Survivors Remorse.”
“I have a movie called “Where’s the Money?” with Mike Epps and Terry Crews coming out. And I have an app coming out by Everybody Digital. It’s a short film app,” he said. Ranch plays an assassin in one of the short films, which you can watch in January 2017 when the app launches.
“This app is going to be transformative. As most people know, when it comes to short films, after the film festival circuit, you pretty much drop. You’re done,” said Allen. “This outlet is going to be a platform to be able to showcase these amazing short films that have won countless awards, and have nowhere to live. And we’re also going to be creating original content. Basically, we’re going to be the short form version of Netflix.”
Directed by Russ Parr, and co-starring Jackie Long (“Real Husbands of Hollywood”), Da’Vone McDonald (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and Tequan Richmond (“Everybody Hates Chris,” “Ray,” Blue Caprice”), don’t miss “Ringside” tonight (09-04-16) on TV One at 7 p.m. ET with an immediate encore at 9 p.m.