Between battling V-loving Vamps in True Blood and making an impact in Calvin Klein’s “X Marks The Spot” boxers campaign, Mechad Brooks isn’t the arrogant sex symbol you’d expect him to be. In fact, he’s quite the scholarly nerd… who tends to take his shirt off. VIBE hooked up with the 29-year-old actor to pick his brain about uncomfortable conversations with his mother, America’s big obesity problem, and why he can’t wait to turn 30. —Katie Hintz-Zambrano
Word is you were accepted into Yale University, but declined. Why’d you turn them down?
I didn’t act in college per say because I didn’t want an acting degree. I don’t know what you do with that degree. When I was 16 I saw Usual Suspects and I wanted to be a director as well. So I thought I should go to school for directing and producing, something I knew nothing about. Yale did not have a film school. I realized by the time I was 18 that I wanted to go to California and go to film school at UCS.
Most college kids are busy gaining their freshmen 15, how’d you get into modeling?
I was with LA Models and Wilhemina. I basically modeled my way through college, doing local runway shows in LA that don’t pay a lot and a couple of shows in NY and SF and I probably made the same as the average 19-year-old waiter, I just worked less and was around beautiful girls, so it was nice [Laughs].
What did Mama Brooks think of those new Calvin Klein ads? Are you doing another season?
It goes from March to March. I’ll find out in Dec if they want me back. My mom has seen me in my underwear probably a lot more than any other woman, just from growing up and always running around in my drawers. So it’s nothing different for her. The one thing she said is, ‘I don’t know if I should watch this because people are saying it’s X-Rated. Is it really X-rated?’ I’m like ‘Mom, no.’ And the one time she saw a sex scene from True Blood she called me and said ‘Hey, this is really embarrassing, but… do you guys really do it?’ I’m like, ‘No, no, not at all!’
I read you were doing 1,000 crunches a day for those ads. What’s your regimen like now? Are you shooting for 2,000?
I’m really busy so I don’t have the time to do that nor the inclination because I don’t always have a Calvin Klein photo shoot. When I do have something like that, I’ll go crazy for a couple of weeks and go to the gym twice a day and eating lean protein like fish and turkey and vegetables and cut carbs around 4pm. I’m actually launching a website later this year to try to battle obesity, especially childhood obesity, in this country. If you can contribute 45 minutes – one hour a day a week exercising, you’re going to be a healthy person. You can cut down on diabetes and all of these man made problems we have. I do embrace the fact that I can maybe be a voice for people to realize that its not as hard that people think. I’m a pretty passionate person. I don’t do anything half-assed. When I jump into something i really do it to the fullest extent that my time and energy will allow me. I’m from Texas and to see so many people that are obese and with disorders that are preventable. They haven’t been shown or told. I’m really passionate about making sure my fellow countrymen are healthy. It’s a shame.
Are you comfortable with being branded as a sex symbol? Is it easy to embrace?