B.J. Britt joined the Marvel universe as Agent Antoine Triplett in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and is reprising the role for the second season, but one show isn’t enough for this man. Britt also stars as Paul Jr. in BET’s Being Mary Jane, which just wrapped filming its second season in July. Having always wanted to get into acting, Britt studied theater at East Carolina University, which he said gave him the foundation he needed to pursue an acting career. Britt looks at life in hilarious ways and loves to take each day in stride. He’s loving every moment, and it’s hard to ignore his infectious enthusiasm for what he does. We’ll be seeing more of him this fall, so keep your eyes open!
Cliché: Had you always wanted to go into acting?
B.J. Britt: Yeah, ever since I can remember, even from as young as middle school. I was always the class clown, and my parents were big on education. Teachers would always call my dad and were like, “Your son is being disruptive,” and my dad would punish me and say, “You don’t interrupt anybody else’s education.” But you know, I was doing the same thing I saw other people doing on TV, and they were getting paid for it! Their parents weren’t punishing them, so I was like, “Something’s wrong here. Let me figure out how to do what they are doing without getting punished for it.” I was telling old classmates that I wanted to be on TV, and now that I’ve done it, they are saying, “You really said you wanted to do this. It’s crazy because now you’re doing it.” It’s a blessing, and I’m not getting punished for it. Yay! [laughs]
Where did you head when you were ready to start?
After graduating from ECU, I ended up signing with Elite Model in Atlanta. I used modeling as a backplate to get into acting. I knew how hard it was to break into it. I said I’d do modeling to pay the bills and get food on the table and see what happened. I was in Atlanta for three years and then my previous manager who lived out in LA found me in Atlanta and asked me to move to LA and try acting. I was like, “Perfect.” I moved from Atlanta to LA and have been here for a few years now, so it was good. It’s been a journey, I promise you that. A lot of tears and slips, but I feel like we are starting to break ground a little bit now. [laughs]
Absolutely. You are on two shows at the same time (Being Mary Jane and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). That’s got to be insane.
Yeah! I’m excited to be on both. They are on two different networks with two different demographics. There are two different markets and two different roles. It’s a dream come true; it really is. I love both shows.
How do you juggle doing both?
It’s interesting being able to juggle both. With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., [my character is] more muscular and everything like that, so I’m in the gym a lot more for that than my character on Being Mary Jane. He’s the little brother, so he’s not ARGH. There is just a lot of preparing that goes into the characters, not just physically, but mentally as well. It’s fun. It’s a great problem to have, if you’d even call it a problem.
Had you been into the whole Marvel scene before?
You know, actually, I hadn’t. I wasn’t into comic books. I was a video gamer. I loved playing video games, and anything that had violence in it, my parents were like, “Turn it off.” As parents, they want to protect you from everything, so when I was joining the cast, I didn’t know much about the Marvel thing, even once I booked it. My agent was like, “Yo, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! You got it!” I was like, “Okay, cool.” Obviously I didn’t get how big of a deal this was. My agent, Joe, he was just, “Oh my God.” I started doing my homework for the project and everything immediately, and I realized it was so hot. I had to go back and watch all of the Marvel movies because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. connects the movies. When Captain America came out, we led up to Captain America 2 and picked up right where it ended. I was so mad at my parents for not putting me on the comic book scene when I was younger. It’s ridiculous and amazing. I love it. Marvel’s fanbase is ridiculous. Being a part of the Marvel universe? Oh my God. It’s a very humbling and exciting experience to be a part of.
Well, now that you have seen all of the films, do you have a favorite superhero?
I like the green man. I like the Hulk. I like all of them, but I like Hulk. He is the man. For some reason, he sticks out to me.
How was it working with some of these iconic characters from the films?
Being that I’m just now breaking into the whole Marvel universe and learning about it—thanks mom and dad [laughs]—it’s amazing. It’s so funny, because after watching all of these movies, to see how these actors contribute so much to the Marvel universe and being able to work alongside them is very humbling. It’s exciting at the same time. So many fans are so excited, and I’m like a kid in a candy store. Being a part of the Marvel universe is a big deal, and I take it in stride and have fun with it. There is no arrogance on the set between any of the characters or any of the actors. It’s a lot of fun.
Being Mary Jane is completely different, and there you play a little brother, right?
Yeah, I play the little brother of the family, and Gabrielle Union plays Ms. Mary Jane. It’s a lot of fun. My character is Paul Jr. He has his head on straight. He doesn’t make any rash decisions with what he wants to accomplish, but he has a dream. He’s a momma’s boy. The way this family is, people always tell me, “B.J., BET is paying you to play yourself. He’s funny, he’s mischievous.” You’ll see in the second season, he has an interesting thing with a little lady. I can relate. Like me, I’m a momma’s boy, and that’s what he is. He always wants to keep a smile on his mother’s face, especially when she’s going through her illness and all of that. It’s literally like my family. It hits so close to home, and I love being a part of that cast.
You are passionate about philanthropic work. Why do you think that is important?
I’m from Wilson, North Carolina, so I never knew what homelessness was. I never saw that in Wilson. I didn’t even notice it in Atlanta, but when I moved to LA, I really saw it. It was just crazy. It affected me a lot because my parents had always raised me to be giving and share. When you are growing up, you don’t realize what your parents are doing for you, and when you grow up, you want to give back. For me, I want to spoil my parents to death. When I come to LA and see all the homelessness, I want to help. Some people just walk past them, and sometimes that affects me a lot. They’re people, too, so I’ll have them pick something out to eat. If it was the other way around, you’d want someone to help you out. It feels good. It’s not something to brag about. There should be a day called Homeless Day or something where you go out and help people.
Photograph courtesy of Gregory Worsham Photography
Interview with B.J. Britt was originally published in Cliché Magazine’s Aug/Sept 2014 Issue