RonReaco Lee has no 'Survivor's Remorse'

Catching up with the homegrown star of LeBron James's Starz-produced basketball show

RonReaco Lee, who stars in Starz's "Survivor's Remorse," knows firsthand that Hollywood ambitions are nothing new for Atlanta. After all, Lee got his start as an actor growing up in Stone Mountain. "I did a lot of stuff that came through Atlanta," Lee, who was cast in Glory and worked on a couple of television shows as a kid in Atlanta, says.

Playing the lead character Perry in the independent film How I Spent My Summer Vacation, a he-says-she-says comedic look at a college romance gone awry, was one of his early big breaks. The film resulted in a brief theatrical release and, on the strength of that, Lee, along with the film's director John Fisher, made the move to L.A. in 1997.

After years of making a living on the west coast, most notably as Tyreke Scott in "Sister, Sister," the television sitcom that made twins Tia and Tamera Mowry famous, Lee found himself back in Atlanta in 2008. Working with Tyler Perry, Lee played a lawyer in the film Madea Goes to Jail starring Spelman College alumna Keshia Knight Pulliam, as well as Viola Davis and Sofia Vergara before their stardom magnified.

It was an eye-opening experience. "I walked in his production office and I saw all the people that he employed and his studio and I remember thinking 'wow,'" Lee says. Newly married and looking for "peace" in 2010, he decided to buy a house in Atlanta to try "the dual coast thing." Luck was on his side and he got a job. "Next thing I know I'm doing a TV show 'Let's Stay Together' for BET at Screen Gem Studios for four years," he marvels.

When Lee decided it was time to leave "Let's Stay Together" prior to the show's cancelation, he got another lucky break in his hometown: "Survivor's Remorse." Recently renewed for a third season, the show centers on Cam Calloway (Jessie Usher), a basketball phenom out of Boston who is the star of the Atlanta NBA team. Cam supports his mother Cassie (Tichina Arnold), lesbian sister M-Chuck (fellow Atlantan Erica Ash), and Uncle Julius (Mike Epps) with an assist from his cousin/manager, Reggie, played by Lee.

"As an actor, as an artist, there are so few times you get the job that you really want," Lee says, who has added father to his life resume. Lee shares that playing Reggie, modeled off LeBron James' childhood friend Maverick Carter, also a producer on the show, fits him both personally and professionally.

"I think there are a lot of similarities between myself and Reggie," he says. "Any of my boys will tell you I have always been somewhat of a voice of reason. I'm rarely the dude that will be reckless. I'm constantly the dude that's telling my homeboys, 'Now look, man, y'all know if we do this, this could happen and that could happen.'"

"With regards to the overall story and the tone and the theme of 'Survivor's Remorse,' Reggie was pretty much a moral compass for the show in terms of keeping the family in line and trying to transition them into this newfound wealth and making sure it lasts," he continues.

Playing Reggie has come with an additional professional bonus. "What I loved about him is, although he's that moral compass, he's still very much a dick and anybody who has followed my resume knows that I don't get a chance to play a dick very often," he explains. "So here I am, getting a chance to play this really cool character who I think really has some real good morals about him — that I cannot only identify with, but I enjoy playing him. On top of that, I also get to show people that I'm not always the nice guy on the show."

Just as Lee realized his dreams here in Atlanta, he wishes the same for others during the state's latest Hollywood upswing. "They did have studios but nothing like the studios they're currently building and offering to filmmakers and production companies. So it's a lot different," he says. "My prayers for the state of Georgia are they continue to grow and employ a lot of the local actors and crew here, because there's a lot of talent here."

“Survivor’s Remorse.” Airs Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. On Starz.

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