As Magic Johnson in Winning Time, Quincy Isaiah scores
Adam McKayis long awaited Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty– a love letter to the LA Lakers’ “Showtime” era and inspired by Jeff Pearlmans book show time-Stars heavyweights John C Reilly, Adrian Brody, jason clarke, and Gaby Hoffman, and had to find an actor to direct the series Earvin “Magic” Johnson. After extensive casting, the HBO drama broke through: Quincy Isaiah, a Michigander like Johnson and the youngest of seven siblings in a blended family. (“It was like Brady Bunch, but instead of getting Alice, they got me,” he laughs.) Fast-forward to the show’s March 6 premiere, and Isaiah’s face is plastered all over Los Angeles. Here he takes a moment to reflect on his career.
MOVIES AND MUSIC were a large part of Isaiah’s household. At seven he saw his first play, the miracle worker, with his grandmother. “I just remember how it made me feel.”
TIRE DREAMS: “I’ve played basketball my whole life, all summer, I’d go to soccer practice, come home and then play basketball the rest of the day… then video games. It was lovely. Take me back!”
A PRODUCTION BY A Raisin in the sun at Kalamazoo College gave him the confidence to audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in LA. A professor encouraged Isaiah, “‘You have real talent. You could be a leading man.” That was all I needed to hear. I’m good at Michigan, but out there in LA where they’re really doing it, it really lit a fire under me. I moved.”
HIS ROLE in student films he got an agent; his agent got him an audition. “I didn’t think much of it until I got a call back. Then I realized the weight of that role and read the book show time.” At the recall, McKay helped him feel comfortable by telling Isaiah that before he joined SNL, he once attended Kalamazoo College with his improv troupe. “It was a warm room.” Isaiah got a laugh, then another in a line at being impressed with the stars Diana Ross. Life imitates art. Later casting director Francine Maisler walked him out and said “don’t book anything else now.”
AFTER A WEEK A year and a half and some advice from his agent (“Go get better at basketball”), Isaiah was asked to come back and show off his skills on the court Rick Fox. An hour later, McKay called and gave him the part. “I had to mute and just start screaming. I called my mom and she did the same thing, her Pomeranian running in circles around her. My life has changed, you know?”
AFTER MANUFACTURE After the pilot, production with the rest of the world ended in March 2020. “Honestly, I think I really needed that time to really settle in. I’m about not to be known at all to put myself in front of the world. I started going to therapy and really just preparing myself for what was to come. Now I’m ready for it.”