Michael Ealy is a Hollywood veteran, but 2012 became his year with starring roles in the box office hit Think Like a Man and television series Common Law and the soon to be released film Unconditional. With a solid head on his shoulders, Ealy hasn’t relied on his striking looks to get him this far and continues to prove why he deserves to be the man of the hour.
by Kela Walker // Photography by Keith Major // Styling by Darius Baptist // Grooming by Unique London
Walking into the intimate studio, there’s an air of awe and giddiness filling the space thanks to the man of the hour, Michael Ealy. One of the hottest men in Hollywood, Ealy is relatively apathetic to it all. He’s clearly unfazed and oblivious to the gawking and admiration of the women on set.
It’s hard to believe that the actor is 38 years old with years of experience in the industry. Not to be defined by any of the men he has played in various film and television roles (a thug in Barbershop, a troubled soul in For Colored Girls, a lawyer in The Good Wife), Ealy is clearly a man of distinction. Standing at 5’10”, his features are strong, sexy and mysterious – things that mean very little to him. Refusing to fall into narcissism or even egotism, Ealy addresses how he copes with sex symbol status, recalling advice Denzel Washington once gave him on the impermanence of good looks.
“Denzel explained to me a long time ago that looks are fleeting,” says Ealy. “None of this [gesturing toward his face] matters. It’s really what’s inside. It sounds cliché, but I’m much more interested in what’s inside. It’s about the character of the man, not the looks or sex appeal.” People have their own impression of who Michael Ealy is, but when asked to describe himself, it doesn’t come very easy for the actor. “I don’t really think about the kind of guy I am, but I am a guy’s guy through and through,” he explains. “I love to embrace new cultures and ideas, but at the same time I like to entertain things my way. I like my business to be handled professional. I don’t have a high tolerance for laziness, unprofessionalism. When you start dealing with someone who likes to be heard instead of listening, you can’t be in my life. If you are more obsessed with being heard than listening, it won’t work. I have found that listening has been more helpful to me in my life, helps you weed out a lot of people and bullshit.” So of course, one can’t help but wonder if this also applies to his taste in women. The Silver Springs, Maryland native says that he prefers a woman with “passion and talent” – not along the lines of a singer or dancer, but women who are committed to their interests. “If you are a cook or a teacher, be the best damn cook or teacher,” he says. “Have heart in what you do.” Watching Ealy be himself, you can tell that he is a no nonsense kind of guy, and listening to him, it’s more than evident that his childhood and upbringing played an important role in shaping who he’s become. Raised in a diverse area of the suburbs, he says, “We weren’t in mansions or anything like that” – and had what he terms a “normal” adolescence. “I was extraordinarily blessed to be able to grow up completely and utterly normal. My upbringing is boring because there is no trauma and no drama,” he says. “A lot of actors have something that happened. My parents were together, my sister – she didn’t get strung out. Everything was so normal. I often say I think that’s why I pursued acting. I pursued acting for the drama.” Ealy describes his native town as “special,” and talks about how getting an education was important to his family. He and his crew of friends were all about getting their college degrees, and yet it was those same friends who inspired him to chase his dreams of being an entertainer. Inspired by Spike Lee, two of his closest associates introduced him to the director’s films after they graduated high school. It was then that he realized he had potential as an actor.