When Isaiah Mustafa instructed ladies to compare him to their men in his iconic Old Spice commercial, he got more than just female attention. The former NFL wide receiver has landed an NBC TV deal and a role in Tyler Perry’s forthcoming adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Despite his newfound success, he says he’s just a humble guy from Southern California enjoying his burgeoning career. (Yes ladies, he has a girlfriend). VIBE briefly caught up with him and chatted about why memorable commercials are important, his forthcoming Tyler Perry movie role and how he got a gig via satellite. ⎯Starrene Rhett
VIBE: What does your talent deal with NBC mean for your career?
I can’t go into it too far but the best way to describe it is, NBC has an exclusive on me. We’ll work together in the near future, meaning, if an opportunity pops up with a show it could be me starring.
So…if there’s a role perfect for you on one of their TV shows, you get first dibs?
That’s exactly what it is!
The success of your Old Spice commercial got you on Oprah but how the heck did you get a movie role just by being on her show?
I wasn’t on the set of the show. I was skyping in. She was interviewing me for a small segment on me. From my angle I couldn’t see anything on the television screen. All I could see was her face so I didn’t know who was there [and] I didn’t know what was going on. She started talking about Tyler Perry and said, “You know, I know him,” so I said, “Introduce me,” and she said, “Why don’t you introduce yourself and the camera panned back and showed him and I was like, “Wow!”
The original play was a choreopoem where the male characters don’t even appear so how is Tyler Perry adapting his version to fit men in?
I don’t know how he’s going to put it together. The play is a collection of poems and short stories so it’s going to be interesting to see how he puts that together in movie form. I haven’t actually been to the set yet. My part hasn’t started filming so I’m interested in seeing how he does it. To tell you the truth, I don’t know which character I am. I haven’t gotten my schedule yet [because] the men characters aren’t really that important. The women carry the story.
You’re shooting another Old Spice commercial, how much will the new one deviate from the original?
I don’t know. It’s the creative team that was also in charge of the first one so I’m sure they’ll come up with something good depending on what they think about it. But it’s a lot of fun to work with them.
What’s your favorite commercial out right now?
Everybody loves FreeCreditReport.com [laughs]. It’s the song. It’s real catchy. It makes you start singing that goofy song like, “Let me go check my credit.” That’s probably my favorite. Most times if it’s a fun commercial or if it makes me laugh it will catch my attention.
Speaking of attention, you’ve done TV spots before but the Old Spice commercial blasted you off. Does it annoy you when people call you “The Old Spice” guy?
No. I don’t mind at all. It’s a very old brand and when people see me they’re like, “I didn’t even think about buying Old Spice until I saw that commercial.” And So I’m like, I did my job so I’m good. I’m happy to hear that people weren’t thinking about that product until they saw what I did and then hey starting thinking about it so that lets me know that I made an impact.