All-star Actor, Karon Joseph Riley talks About Role in TV One Original Movie Coins for Love
Karon Joseph Riley spent 4 seasons with the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons between 2001 and 2004 as a Defensive End and Linebacker. He played Canadian football as well with the Toronto Argonauts in 2005 just to give a brief summary of his incredible career. Although Karon loved football, he enjoyed something else that fueled his passions even more. Karon found joy simply by being in front of the camera. Quite naturally, the retired NFL player jumped head first into film work after his football stretch. He appeared in Tyler Perry's “Meet the Browns,” "Single Ladies," "For Better or Worse,” "Necessary Roughness,“ ”35 and Ticking,“ “The Last Punch,” "A Cross To Bear," “Last Call,” “ Ambitions,“ and “Mann & Wife.” He stunned viewers in his recurring roles like "Tyler Perry's “Love Thy Neighbor,” and Bounce TV drama, “Saints & Sinners” before joining TV ONE in the lighthearted family flick Coins For Love.
How was it working with TV ONE, Cast members and production team on the set of COINS FOR LOVE?
KJR: I was just talking about it in a previous interview. I’ll just give a shout out to TV ONE and Swirl Productions. Both actors [Essence Atkins and Stephen Bishop] worked together seamlessly [and], brought a beautiful cast together for a second run for this marvelous storyline they have developed. It was fun, [and] it was seamless. I mean, it's rare when you get on and everything goes right from top to bottom, and that’s exactly what happened. We shot this movie in two weeks. We came in and knocked this thing out. That’s a testament to production when you can get a movie like this done with the quality in the way it’s shot and the way it‘s done. That’s all hats off to production.
In your opinion, who’s the funniest person in the cast?
KJR: Well, I didn’t really get to flex it in my premier chops as I would love to [jokes], but I think I’d have to say me in real life. In real life, it’s probably me [that’s the funniest]. TC is funny as anything too, but I think I gotta say that I’m the funniest.
COINS FOR LOVE explores the complexities of love, navigating relationships and raising children. What did you draw upon to portray your character? How did your own personal experiences influence your role?
KJR: Jake and I are a lot alike as far as being an artist. We both have lofty dreams. The difference between Jake and I is that I take responsibility of my family first and foremost. Career comes second to that, and Jake is split. His career is first and his family is second; and it’s not necessarily a bad thing in a way because Jake is pure in his intentions. He thinks that if he gets his career to the point that he can get it to, that in essence, it is going to take care of everybody else, so he’s just going at in a different angle [and] not necessarily visually correct, but he’s not a bad guy. He just has an arrow, [and] an aiming issue.
Hypothetically speaking, and this is only hypothetical... If we were in the future and Jake was dating or married to your daughter, what do you love about him and what do you hate about Jake?
KJR: Well, I think the thing would be, if he was with my daughter then I do know that I would understand that he’s a believer of himself. He goes hard at whatever he sees he wants to go at. Now, the thing that would have pause is the way he would go about that. My daughter ends up having to be the man and the mom in the house because her husband is out chasing stars. There’s a good and there’s a negative to that and… again, being an artist, I understand that sometimes we lose our way. In the future, if that was the case, Jake probably wouldn’t make it through that marriage with my daughter. He wouldn’t make it to be honest. Lola is going to be demanding.
How did your background prepare you for your role? What aspect of your character do you identify with the most? What perspectives or insights did you gain by playing your role?
KJR: I identify with him being a producer in the entertainment world, in that field, and you have to carry yourself a certain way. You must have a certain energy to be in this world. In essence, he’s that guy. He’s popular and when you see him he looks way more successful than he probably really is. I relate to that and that’s our world we live in. You never know what people are doing but we gotta make it look great and that’s just what it is. I guess, what I took away from that is, the way I’m doing it is the right way like, as a man, a father, a husband first, and then actor, producer, writer and entertainer second. I think that’s the healthy way of doing it where everybody can win.
You mentioned in recent interview with TV One that you maintain your positive energy by staying away from pressure words like fear and anxiousness. What are some of the affirmations you use to help pivot you into your positive and creative mindset to act?
KJR: Well, I eliminated the words can’t and humble from my vocabulary first and foremost. I try to never speak certain words out loud. If I catch myself saying “I can’t,” or [if I catch] my child or my kid saying it, I say, “No. No. Don’t say that word. You just haven’t figured it out yet.” I don’t have the word can’t. I try not to have that in my spirit. If it’s difficult, it takes me a week. If it’s impossible, give me a day, a year or something. That’s just the mindset that I try to stay in. That’s how I pivot. I tell everybody, “We all feel the pressures of what’s going on in this world right now and we’ve all had those days where it’s hard to get out of bed. You may not want to move forward. I think my whole mantra of keep peddling is, “This is what I do.” It’s like, you’re on a real big hill right now, and we’re peddling really slow, but we’re still peddling forward, and I think that’s what we have to continue doing as a people of culture and a community, you know? Keep moving forward and never settle to be standing still, so I think we’re doing that, and that’s how I move. I keep moving forward.
Speaking of the culture, why do you think it’s important for TV ONE to continue documenting and portraying the positive narrations of black culture, BLACK FAMLIES and black love?
KJR: That’s one of their number one jobs as artist, to record history through our work. They put a mirror up to society by showing them authenticity through the medium of film and television of what we’ve been fortunate to work in. We have a unique opportunity to do that so people can see themselves in different lights, or they can see themselves in the light we need to show them in, so it helps everybody. TV One is leading the charge and you know, I’m very proud and happy to be a part of the TV One family, and part of the mission that they are taking on. Cathey Hughes is a trailblazer, man, and to be working for a legend and being able to be associated with her brand does nothing but improve in my own brand and everybody who’s involved with her as a people of color, and what she’s doing for a people of color, it’s unpreceded because she’s on the front lines. She’s been on the frontlines. If you know our history then you know what she’s been doing for our people so she’s just continuing on her journey in her purpose. I’m just happy to be part of it.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this movie?
KJR: Black people love and live just like you. It’s just black people being black, and being us. It’s not a black movie or this, it’s just people being really good at being people and having the problems that we have, all of us have. It shows us navigating that through communication, [and] through proper channels. It’s just black people loving on each other. It’s the only way we do it. I think that’s something that’ll change the narrative of what’s happening in the world right now, and it’s great.
Are you working on anymore projects?
KJR: I got my own stuff that I developed, “The Fellas.’ It's a sitcom that I’m working on with four of my friends, black males thirty and up—the Black Entourage meets the Office. I’m just trying to put stuff out that I don’t see or things that I would love to watch every week. I would love to see shows that’s like Entourage and the office, that's us [Blacl people], and see us living in that world, at how we live and navigate thirty something single fathers and those things. Our stories are funny and cool, too, so I have that coming. I got my book coming out, “Man Laws: My Two Cents To a Young Black Male." That’s coming in the fourth quarter under a female black owned 13th and Joan Publishing Company. Ardre Orie, the owner and publisher of that company, she is publishing my book so I’m really proud about that. I got a lot of stuff coming—just working on things that got put into the can before we got into this quarantine like this movie, here. I’m going to just keep peddling and developing that, and keep it moving.
Follow Karon Joseph Riley here.
TV One follows the success of its popular film COINS FOR CHRISTMAS with the premiere of the sequel, COINS FOR LOVE. The film's stars Essence Atkins ("Ambitions," "Marlon"), Stephen Bishop("Imposters," "Being Mary Jane"), TC Carson ("Living Single"), Kendrick Cross("Ambitions") and Karon Joseph Riley ("35 and Ticking," "A Christmas Blessing") return to continue this blossoming love story. It will air on Sunday, July 19, at 9 P.M. ET/8C, followed by an encore presentation at 11 P.M. ET/10C.
"I was happy to bring the Coins family back together for the audience," shared Bishop. "If you enjoyed Coins for Christmas, I think you'll really love this one!"
The sequel reunites audiences with single mother Madison Morris (Atkins), who finds herself starting over. Madison lands her dream job at a publishing company. To her dismay, however, she must complete a probationary period and will not receive her full salary until the process is over, leaving her in a financial struggle. With a new career and struggling to make ends meet, she works under the demands of her new job while raising two teens on her own. Making matters even more complicated, she finds herself torn between an old flame and a new love interest.
Alec Darby (Bishop) has also started the job of his dreams on a national sports network but soon clashes with his co-host Demarco (Cross). Madison and Alec have a chance encounter and connect to discuss their career challenges, prompting Alec to offer Madison a side gig as his personal assistant to help supplement her income. The two embark on a great working relationship, and sparks eventually start to fly but not before Alec's ex-fiancée reemerges in the picture. Madison's ex-husband also comes crawling back with promises of a fresh start adding to the drama. Tune in to see if the couple's budding relationship will be able to withstand the ultimate test - their Exes - in this romantic drama.
"It was and always is an absolute pleasure to play with Essence, Stephen and the rest of the uber-talented cast," said Riley, who plays Jake. "As usual, we had a ball, and that is exactly what the fans should expect. A good time with a little bit of everything for everybody."
COINS FOR LOVE is executive produced by Urban One Founder and Chairwoman Cathy Hughes, written by Susan Banks and directed by Jamal Hill, with casting by George Pierre. The film is produced for TV One by Swirl Films, with Eric F. Tomosunas serving as Executive Producer. James Seppelfrick, Ron Robinson and Keith Neal serve as producers. For TV One, Jason Ryan is the Executive Producer in Charge of Production, Donyell Kennedy-McCullough is Senior Director of Talent & Casting and Robyn Greene Arrington is Vice President of Original Programming and Production.
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