In 1991 Morris Chestnut stirred emotions as college-bound jock Ricky in Boyz N the Hood. Although Ricky never made it out of the ’hood, Chestnut went on to become one of Hollywood’s most beloved and hardworking leading men.

Now poised for another milestone in his career, the seasoned actor takes the lead in Fox’s new medical drama, Rosewood (premiering September 23), playing a charismatic, free-spirited pathologist for hire.

“Part of where I am in my career is because I’ve been blessed to play roles the audience roots for,” he says. “The audience wanted Ricky to make it and Lance [from The Best Man Holiday] to score that touchdown and get home to be with his wife.”

At 46 the ageless hunk is keeping his hustle at full throttle: Chestnut also returns to the big screen this month, starring in The Perfect Guy alongside Sanaa Lathan and Michael Ealy, as one third of a chilling love triangle.

“I’m here right now because of God, my family and my fans,” he says. With so much gratitude, talent—and those looks to boot—it’s no wonder we remain under his spell.

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newsstands now!