On a sunny summer Tuesday afternoon in Midtown, longtime funny man Mike Epps and Hollywood newcomer Jessie T. Usher are presiding in a conference room on the 19th floor at the STARZ network offices. Seated at a long brown table dotted with small bottles of Smart Water and Poland Spring’s sparkling water spinoff reminiscent of Pellegrino, in front of five journalists—the two are in town to promote the second season of Survivor’s Remorse, which airs Saturday (Aug. 22) on STARZ. The show, executive produced by LeBron James, details the life of Cam Calloway’s (Jessie T. Usher) rags to riches story as he becomes a famous basketball player. In doing so, he leaves his old Boston neighborhood behind, and gets accustomed to his new life along with his family.
In the show’s first season, we see Cam getting used to having money and figuring out what to do when family is calling and pleading for financial help. Hence, the series’ title best describes Cam’s inner struggle with helping out members of his kin or old friends left behind his success, as opposed to just splurging on himself. Despite the blatant dichotomy of his plight, Usher admits Cam’s deep pockets are what makes playing him appealing. “When it comes time to play Cam he’s driving an Aston, and he is throwing on Versace,” he gushes speaking comfortably while sporting a white t-shirt. “It’s a lot of fun. He is free in a way that a lot of people feel they aren’t.”
But like Cam, both Jessie and Mike (who plays Uncle Julius) have dealt with random folks hitting them up for some cash due to their generous bank accounts. “It comes from a lot of different areas and a lot of different places. Believe it or not, a lot of people think they are supposed to be that way with you,” explains Mike. “It’s just something that you have to manage like everything else. You have to realize ‘hey it’s the cut off point.”
There’s not doubt, however, these two are perfect for these roles. Uncle Julius’ overzealous attempts at sleeping with women in season 1 coupled with his out-of-this-world antics makes Epps the perfect choice for playing him. He’s made a name for himself as one of Hollywood’s “it” comedians. “We were cast because they see some type of familiarity with the characters in us,” says Mike as he then praises the show’s writer for his knack of comedic relief. “The way Mike O’Malley writes the scripts is kind of forewarning you not to do some sh*t. If I read this and I wasn’t in the TV show. I know I better not to do this sh*t,” he says amusingly.
But what can you expect to see in this new season? Well, one thing is for sure, it seems like Cam’s dodging needy estranged relatives and foes a lot more this time around. “In the second season you’ll see sometimes stuff will come up and he won’t even bring it to me,” Usher says of Cam’s cousin/manager Reggie (RonReaco Lee) “He already knows how I would handle it so he just takes care of it.”
It’s also interesting to see the many underlying stories the show has, like Cam’s sister M.Chuck (Erica Ash) and her role as a lesbian struggling to get laid with being a high-strung woman. Or really, just showcasing how dysfunctional life can be no matter who you are. Doesn’t everyone have a crazy uncle who likes weed and girls like Uncle Julius? In a recent interview with Rolling Out, Ash said the issues the family goes through are universal. “It’s not just a Black show or just Black people problems or things Black people do, you end up integrating a lot of different people,” she said. “I have white people say, ‘Ohmygod, my uncle smokes weed all the time!’ or ‘My mother is really overbearing just like that!’ or ‘My big sister or big brother is mean and overprotective just like that!’ So, instead of focusing on what the stereotypical black household would be, we just portray a random dysfunctional family who happens to be Black.”
Like season 1, you can expect to see M.Chuck’s strong personality shine through. “M-Chuck has a little problem with her temper; I don’t think that’s anything new for the fans,”Ash told Rolling Out. “It causes some legal issues for her and the family [this season] and she has to resolve that.”
Back to Jessie and Mike, Mr. Epps concludes things off with some insightful words of wisdom no matter your circumstance: “Sometimes you have to walk in the door with nothing, and take a little something,” he explains. “Because the only thing that can get you more success is success. So I just make whatever I’m trying to do successful and then after that success, now I have another bargaining chip for what I’m doing.”