Originally from California, Aaron Jennings does a fantastic job starring as Anthony Holmes in NBC’s hit comedy Grand Crew! The show centers around a “crew” of hilarious 30-year-old friends in Los Angeles, California, unpacking their day-to-day excursions. The group frequently gathers around a bar table with wine in tow, but they are sure to be supportive sounding boards and voices of reason for one another. Jennings has starred in Bones, A League of Their Own, Insecure, NCIS, Pure Genius, and more! His current role embodies a happy-go-lucky, super confident, vegan, overly committed accountant. With this show, you’re in for a treat filled with wit, comedy, life lessons, and lighthearted fun!
What is it like portraying “Anthony Holmes” on “Grand Crew”?
It has been a pleasure to get the opportunity to play “Anthony” on “Grand Crew.” I’m incredibly honored to be a part of an all-Black sitcom on network television – we don’t often get to see that, so I definitely feel very grateful to have this platform. I think, also, to be a part of furthering representation on television, in part with the storytelling we have on the series and “Anthony’s” storyline, it’s always incredibly humbling whenever someone comes up to me and tells me about how much they relate to my character. I hear things like “he reminds me of my brother” or “he reminds me of my best friend,” and it doubles down for me how important it is to show a Black man on television that is work-oriented and committed to his job. Further, “Anthony” is very different from who I am in real life, as he’s more type-A and more of a planner, so it’s been equally as fun for me to tap into that role as it has been for the audience to watch along as well.
From where do you pull your inspiration for your role?
I pull my inspiration from the world around the people in it and me. I know many people in my personal life – whether they be close friends or family members – who remind me of “Anthony” quite a bit. As actors, we’re always taught to be observant in our lives and be like sponges, constantly soaking up our environment. I pull from all of my experiences and all people I’ve interacted with to make up this character. Furthermore, all characters that we as actors get to play require a personal touch from our authentic selves, so with any consistency, we get to tap into sides of ourselves that may be otherwise dormant in our typical day-to-day.
What is it like being a part of an All-Black cast, filming a hit show in Los Angeles?
This is a really special opportunity I do not take lightly. Going to work is so enjoyable that my castmates, crew and I all come from the same culture, and we have a similar mindset and mission statement on how to best represent and portray our community. With that, we also relate to each other and the more fantastic world in a very unique way which has allowed us to develop a creative shorthand that doesn’t always exist on other projects and in different spaces. To film in LA, my hometown is a bonus! I love to see how “Grand Crew” highlights parts of LA that otherwise are not often seen on TV, especially noting how the Black community and other people of color are taking up these spaces and are recognized and acknowledged accordingly. It’s been a fantastic journey, and I feel fortunate to be on this ride!
Do you see any reflections of your personal life in this show?
We’ve talked about this as a cast quite a bit. Phil Augusta Jackson (the creator of “Grand Crew”) has, at times, taken stories from our actual lives that we’ve shared with him and/or the more significant group, and in some cases, those stories or memories have ended up in the script! With that, I’ve seen reflections of my and my castmate’s lives within the show. Further, being that we’re telling the stories of 30-somethings living in LA, these stories are very reflective of so many of our viewers, who are in a similar place in their own lives, navigating the LA scene. Our writers do an incredible job of articulating the nuances of living in LA in your 30s as you’re working to navigate all of those open-ended questions we all face: where you’re going, where you exist, and what’s on the horizon.
Throughout the show, the crew gets together over alcohol at the bar, and they unpack the events of their daily lives. Do you and your castmates maintain a relationship that’s just as pure outside of the show?
We do have a very pure relationship outside of the show, yes! We’re a very close-knit group, and at this point, a lot of us consider each other more like family than coworkers. We recognize how blessed we are to say that, as that is certainly not always the case on other projects. This is a testament to Phil [Augusta Jackson] and it trickles down from him onto us. My castmates and I are frequent visitors of a bar here in LA, similar to our on-screen characters, that we get together at quite often. We definitely all have the same common goal and hope that our off-screen connection translates on-screen as well.
What do you think the show represents for the culture and current climate of today’s world?
I think that the very fact that NBC as a network, has backed a show that was created by a Black male creator, features an all-Black cast, and tells very human stories that are not only indicative of the Black experience, but provides representation for people of color on a more-grand scale, is a perfect, nuanced example of where we’re heading as a society. While I know we still have ways to go, I think “Grand Crew” is a beautiful example of us, collectively, taking a positive step in the right direction. That is certainly what I’m most proud of when it comes to the show.
How do you see Anthony Holmes developing throughout the show? Do you have any specific goals for your character?
I hope “Anthony” continues to evolve and grow in who he is outside of his job, and that we get to see more of him as a lover, as a son, as a friend, and so on and so forth. He is on his way to being more well-rounded, and I want the audience to see that as well. My hope for him is that he continues to make a conscious effort to find more of a work-life balance and that his character develops more holistically. You’ll get to see more of this in the latter half of season 2 [so stick around!, as “Anthony’s” character development continues to evolve. Thanks in big part to the fantastic writers on our show, we’re well on our way to seeing “Anthony” become a more dynamic character who’s not just one-dimensional and fully focused on just one aspect of his life.
Safe spaces are significant for friend groups, and you all portray that very well. Do you think you and your castmates are helping to encourage such spaces in the real world?
I think the very essence of the show works to encourage this. I’ve spoken with countless fans about specific episodes, which tell me the same. We’ve discussed episode arcs that focus on therapy, as well as the episode where “Anthony” is having a hard time with the concept of crying, battling the stereotype of men don’t cry, and self-expression without fear of ridicule. The show takes on these very real-life ideals head-on and provides levity so that it isn’t delivered in a heavy-handed manner, which definitely speaks to these ideas of creating safe spaces for our audiences and the more fantastic world. In our personal lives, as castmates and, more importantly, as friends, we really aim to make these spaces for each other as well, just like how I do with my other friends. It’s two-fold, as it’s one thing to do this in your art, but another to emulate it in your personal life, too.
If you could tell Anthony Holmes one thing or offer him any kind of advice, what would you tell him?
If I were to tell “Anthony” any one thing, it would be, “don’t be afraid of taking chances.” A lot of great things come from the unexpected. Yes, it’s great to have goals, make plans and work towards things that are of importance to you, but you must make room for the unexpected, too, as there are so many beautiful things that can come out of situations you can’t fully control or over-plan.
Cream color Tracksuit
Designer: Everette Hall
Green Black Silk Shirt w black slacks
Designer: Everette Hall
Grey Tweed Suit w Red Turtleneck
Designer: Suits by Malcolm Staples
Interview: Ashley Lambert
Photography: Michael J.
Grooming: Mary Scott
Wardrobe stylist: Chelley Roy
Location: The Vision Room
Project Coordinator: Handz Dirty PR