Entertainment

This former NFL player is starring in a Netflix series set in Columbus

Anthony Alabi is a former NFL player, and he’ll star in “Family Reunion,” a new Netflix original series set in Columbus that will debut July 10.

Alabi plays Moz McKellan, a former football player and husband to Cocoa McKellan. Cocoa is played by Tia Mowry of “Sister, Sister” fame.

The show follows Moz, Cocoa and their four children as they move from Seattle to Columbus.

The McKellans left the big city behind to be with Moz’s family, led by matriarch M’Dear, who is played by Emmy-winner Loretta Devine. Richard Roundtree, best known for starring in the 1970s film series “Shaft,” guest stars as Grandpa.

Alabi spoke with the Ledger-Enquirer about the show, his four years as a professional football player and more in an interview earlier this week. Some of the questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

I wanted to start off by talking about “Family Reunion.” I figured that you could probably explain it a little more in-depth and better than I could. So, can you tell us a little about the show’s premise?

We’re moving from Seattle to Georgia. We’re moving in with my mother and my father. The funny comes from the fact that we’re — Cocoa and I ... are more of the kind of liberal, new-school parents. My mother and father are very conservative and religious. So, there’s a lot of clashing of cultures and clashing of philosophies. I think a lot of the funny comes in the juxtaposition of us being in their home.

In the show, you’re playing a former football player, something that comes from your personal life.

Moz — my character — played tight end for 15 years. I was a left tackle, an offensive linemen. I played six altogether.

Growing up, my parents were both big on education and sports. My father is Nigerian. He loved football. He loved everything about it. So it’s kind of religion. When you come out of the womb and you’re 6’6, 360 pounds, I think you play football. For me, I always loved it.

I went to Texas Christian University and got drafted in 2005. I played for the Miami Dolphins, then the Kansas City Chiefs and finished with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I had a great time. It was a lot of fun.

But I always think acting is something I wanted to do. So, I did. As soon as I had my time in the NFL and took care of retirement, I was like I’m going to do what my passion is.

You’re starring alongside Tia Mowry, Loretta Devine and Richard Roundtree as well. What is it like working with them?

It’s amazing. You learn so much, and every day is like a clinic. For me, I kind of sit back and watch a lot of things. I make sure I kind of take in the little things. You don’t ever want to be the weak link. So, I make sure every day I bring it.

This show is one of the first to have an all-black writers’ room. Can you talk about what that means and how that’s important for the show?

It’s a huge milestone. Whenever you’re the first to do something, you don’t have the wiggle room to mess up. I think we all understood that from day one. I think we wanted to try to do the best we could for each other and the writers’ room.

We wanted to make sure that, yes, it’s an all-black writers’ room. Yes, we are this kind of show. And when it comes out, come out with a boom and a bang. And letting them know that an all-black writers’ room can get it done.

The show premieres on July 10. What should viewers expect?

I think there are going to see a lot of situations that are on-topic. I think they are going to feel a lot of the nostalgia that you have when you used to watch shows like “Family Matters” or “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” or “The Cosby Show.” They are going to laugh. They are going to cry. No matter what your age is or where you come from or what you believe, I think there is something for everyone in this show.

Family Reunion is a live-action comedy series that premieres July 10 on Netflix. The show is filmed in Los Angeles but set in Columbus, Georgia.

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