By Ryan McPherson
Luis Da Silva Jr. is not the first athlete to find himself in front of the camera, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t broken new ground. The award-winning actor had his sights set on basketball stardom long before he landed on the silver screen. His basketball talents however, led him to become the face of the Nike ‘Freestyle‘ campaign, and also led him to become the first non-NBA basketball player to get endorsed by the company. From there he proved his talents knew no bounds and the basketball phenom found a love for acting. You can currently catch Da Silva Jr. in the upcoming, star-studded ‘Triple 9’.
Your film ‘Triple 9’ recently hit theaters. What can you tell us about your character and your experience working on the film?
This character was different than most I play. In one fact, I played a leader of a MS13, who are an active violent gang. However, learning and studying one thing is a crazy thing. What we think is violent or wrong is only what some perceive as (making ends meet). Just because there are gangs, doesn’t mean all of it is bad. It’s just their way of simply providing for their families the ONLY way they know how.
What type of preparation did you do for the role?
I did research and spoke to people and affiliates of the MS13.
You seem like someone who keeps a very open mind and appear willing to understand others without passing judgment. Do you feel it’s necessary to keep an open mind as an actor to fully understand the people you portray on-screen?
Well thank you, I take that as a compliment. I try to keep an open mind because this is reality. There are real situations and real people who have to support their families. Unfortunately it’s not always what we perceive is right.
‘Triple 9’ has a cast full of familiar faces from top to bottom, including yours. What was it like being part of such an impressive ensemble?
It’s my first film working with more than 8 headline named actors. This was definitely a ALL-STAR ENSEMBLE. I FELT LIKE working with such a cast like this with a great director and producer, is almost like playing for an all star team during an all star game. Even the ones who come off the bench can deliver and hold their own at any given time.
Speaking of All-Star games, before you became an actor, you made a name for yourself in basketball. How did your exceptional athletic talents transform into an acting career?
Well there really wasn’t a transition from basketball into acting. Everyone in the industry from named actors and directors, remember my ads and the impact Nike had in their global success. However, acting and Hollywood is a whole other monster. Almost everyone in this industry came from either music or dancing before becoming an actor. I happened to be a basketball player. With that said, I had to put the ball down for a minute to focus on this craft and art to be taken seriously. All the hard work is finally paying off.
Did your experience performing on the court provide any experiences that translated to performing on the screen?
Basketball transpositions well in this field because of the ability to create on the spot and let the craft happen and respond organically to the script and what the character is called for in the scene. Responding to the defense in whatever the defense gives you, you take.
You talk about responding quickly in organic fashion to the unexpected. Do you like having room to improvise or would you prefer (if possible) to be fully prepared with what was originally scripted?
I like nothing more than to go off script and give the individual actor the opportunity to explore and be creative. With on camera, that is usually translated to the best work.
On top of your acting and athletic abilities, you wrote a children’s book “A Boy Named Boo”. Do you plan on continuing a career as an author? What are your inspirations for writing?
Yes I enjoy writing children’s books as a hobby. I usually write better on long trips especially when I’m flying. I use inspiration from my childhood being bullied and over weight as a child, which was challenging. Especially growing up in an inner city. However, I used basketball to motivate me and I’m hoping that my motivation in writing with true events can help my audience (children) achieve the personal self-esteem and encouragement they need as well.