Baby Mama drama, illegal drug use and celebrity weddings make for must-see TV on season three of CW's "The Game," which follows a fictional NFL team and examines the personal lives of its players and their women. As usual, the show's hotheaded star quarterback Malik has something to say. Each week actor Hosea Chanchez breathes life into the athlete who recently married Robin Givens, who plays herself and is electric on-screen with Wendy Raquel Robinson who plays his mom and on-again, off-again manager. Chanchez shares with ESSENCE.com how Givens is far from the calculating roles she plays, what Tia Mowry's wedding taught him about love, and the secret to NFL players' success (hint: it includes you).
ESSENCE.COM: This season of "The Game" has been action packed, and now we have the new twist of your character Malik marrying Robin Givens. After working with her, what new things did you learn about her?
HOSEA CHANCHEZ: I was really intrigued by her. It was great to work and pick her brain and see what type of person she really is. She was nothing like I thought she would be. It was just a whole other layer to her that made her so much more interesting. She is the sweetest person on the planet and soft spoken. Most people think she is an extrovert and she is snappy and boisterous, but she's nothing like that. Hate to be disappointing, but she is acting to play herself, not that public persona that most people believe is the real Robin Givens. It's a fine line and she walked it.
ESSENCE.COM: So are you ready to walk down that aisle in real life after practicing with Robin Givens on the show?
CHANCHEZ: I definitely want to get married, but not anytime soon. I would not want to spend the rest of my life by myself. When you find the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, you solidify it. I'm the type of guy who wants everyone to know, "it's mine." At the moment, I'm single. Doing this thing by myself gets a little hard, but it's coming. Watching Cory and Tia (Mowry)'s wedding, I really got to see how much this wedding meant to Tia. Tia just loved this guy so much that she wanted everybody close to her to see and experience this fairy tale under God and share in her day.
ESSENCE.COM: Wendy Raquel Robinson plays Tasha, your mom and on-again, off-again manager on the show, and you two have great chemistry even when you're arguing. How did you guys develop the bond we see on-screen?
CHANCHEZ: It came natural from the start. Our relationship began in the parking lot of CBS before I even had the part and we were testing. She reminded me so much of my real mom because my mom had me at a young age. I'm very familiar with having a mother that crosses the line between being my mom and my best friend. It just flowed. Sometimes it's hard to see when you have a mom that grew up with you versus a mom that [raised] you. It's hard to see her when she tries to be a mom because sometimes it just doesn't mix. I've learned, at the end of the day, she is still your mom. Since I've [matured], I've depended on my mom a lot more as a mom rather than as a friend.
ESSENCE.COM: What has been the response from real NFL football players to you about the show and what have you learned about their life?
CHANCHEZ: They love the show! I've not met one real NFL player that said something negative about it. They say, "Someone finally got it-it's so close to home." A lot of them started watching it through their wives, girlfriends or moms. What's relatable for a lot of these guys is that they come from underprivileged families. A lot of them have single moms, as a lot of us do in our communities. It's just the challenge and balance of going from nothing to something. Most of these guys are privileged, but they didn't come from that. The biggest epiphany for me has been these players are absolutely nothing without the women in their lives, whether it's a mother, sister or wife. I've interviewed or read biographies, some of the greatest of all time, and they all accredit their success to their women.
ESSENCE.COM: You seem to be completely different from your character Malik, who once punched a guy in a wheelchair. Do you think you would be friends with him?
CHANCHEZ: (Laughs.) I would. He's come a long way. In some ways, we are complete opposites and that is fun. [Daryl "Chill" Mitchell], who played the guy in the wheelchair, told me not to judge but to live my character [when I expressed] reservations about the scene. That's been with me ever since. Football players have a whole other life happening. I believe everyone should experience it because it's just that funny. What makes this show so interesting is that [the characters] are introduced and delivered through the eyes of the women. It's not just about football, which is why Mara [Brock Akil, the show's executive producer] is so smart. We are some of the lucky ones to be working and we are so grateful people are watching and telling their friends.