Getting to Know IronE Singleton From The Blind Side and The Walking Dead
So, it’s a beautiful fall day in October, and it’s 8 a.m., and I’m wide awake! Been awake for hours. For anyone that knows me, my being awake at this ungodly hour is very unusual since bedtime is normally 3 a.m., but here I am, up and anxious. Checking my iPad at least 10 times to be sure the recording app is working correctly, checking my iPhone to be sure the service and connection is strong, and jotting down more and more notes into my bright pink journal as I sit rocking nervously back and forth watching the clock tick towards 8:05.
What happens at 8:05? Hopefully my cellphone keeps its signal and the one and only T-Dog from The Walking Dead, actor IronE Singleton, will be calling me! Now you get the anxious, nervous, and up super early part, right?
So what though? It’s the ‘Walking Dead’, just another tv show right? Oh no, no, no! It’s so much more than that. Ratings wise it’s basic cables largest televisions series ever, recently hitting new records for having over 14 million viewers, and being the highest rated tv show among adults ages 18-49. Viewing wise, it’s a show that pulls you in and tugs at your heart strings, all while also having the ability to make you want to get up and kick some zombie ass before they kill one of your favorite characters! Few, if any, tv shows have ever been able to do that and that’s what makes it an amazing show. Huge fan, can you tell?
That’s why when we were asked if we would like to interview one of the cast members in preparation for attending the Walker Stalker Convention, even one that was recently killed off, we jumped up from our seat, okay, I jumped up from my seat, woops forgot about kitty, sorry kitty, did a happy dance, and then sat down again so I could type “hell yeah!” And, okay, I really typed, “yes, that would be great, thank you.” Don’t want to sound like a stalker, even though it is for the Walker Stalker Convention.
Okay, now calm down! Saying that to myself, but maybe for you too, I hope so! Now, who was it again that I am talking to? TDog baby! If you’re a Walking Dead fan then you know who TDog (IronE) is and you know that after 3 seasons with the show his character died when he (well, the writers) sacrificed his life to save another, Carol (Melissa McBride). That’s not all you may know his from though, you may also recall IronE from the Academy Award nominated, and highest grossing sports movie ever, The Blind Side, in which he played a menacing thug named Alton. To see what else he’s done, you can check out his IMDB page, and it’s quite cool.
All of his roles are quite different from one another, definitely a good actor when you can pull off so many different personalities and make them so believable. This leaves you though with, who is he really? Sometimes you get a sense of who an actor is by what he performs in, or at least you think you do, so I found myself wondering, who really is IronE Singleton?
IronE Interview Begins!
8:05 a.m. : “Gooood morning, Kim-ber-ly, Kim-ber-ly, Kim-ber-ly,” sings a very happy sounding IronE as I answer the phone (yay, AT&T didn’t drop the call!). “What a great voice,” I say, not knowing what else to say…. yes, I am nervous, you’d be proud of me though, I didn’t giggle…a lot..but I admit, I still did.
He then compliments my voice and this is how it all began….my oh so wonderful conversation with an oh so wonderful human being, IronE Singleton. Now, as IronE said, “lets have some fun with this interview!”
Q & A:
Q / Kim: When you get to the Walker Stalker Convention next week, who are you looking forward to seeing most or hanging out with from your fellow cast members (from the Walking Dead)? When interviewing Zach Galligan (Gremlins star) the other day I asked him the same question, and he said he can’t wait to hang out with Norman Reedus (character Daryl) cause he’s a lot of fun. How about you?
A / IronE: Now, who does not want to hang out with Norman Reedus? Everybody loves Reedus, I even have a fangirl moment myself (laughing) when it comes to Reedus.
Q / Kim: Anyone else in-particular, or just happy to see everybody?
A / IronE: Everybody, eve-ry-body. I am just so looking forward to seeing everybody there, and I mean the whole cast is going to be there, that almost never happens where you get a whole cast at a convention. Even Andrew Lincoln, aka Rick, will be there, and he’s normally just so busy with the show that he doesn’t often have time to do things like this.
I don’t know how they made this happen (getting everyone at the Walker Stalker convention), but he (Andrew) will be there along with Danai (Michonne), and fan favorite Norman Reedus, and Chandler (Carl), and my buddy Scott Wilson (Hershel), everybody. I’m just looking forward to it.
It’s just such a rarity to have us all together, even on the set, and then even not on the set because so many characters have died. Melissa McBride (Carol) will be there too, so I am looking forward to seeing her too, I’m just excited about it all.
Q / Kim: It’s also going to be right there in your hometown, Atlanta, Ga, so that’s nice having it right there where your home base fans are.
A / IronE: ATL baby, stand up! Represent!
Q / Kim: Do you think you will have a lot more fans attending because of that, there to represent you, one of their own? Especially because I am sure they’re proud of you.
A / IronE: Ohhh, you know how to make me blush don’t you?
Q / Kim: Well it’s true, you have many people that are just very inspired by you, including myself and my daughter who find your life so, well, inspiring.
A / IronE: Awe, Kimberly, well thank you. Oh wow, you know, that’s my primary job right there Kimberly. While I am here on this earth I am here to try to be an inspiration, and I am a role model and I accept that. You know, some people are like “I’m not a role model, I don’t know why people think that.” You know what, if millions of people watch you on television, ah unfortunately maybe for them, you’re a role model. That’s the reason that’s so special to me to hear people say that. Thank you for telling me that.
I am an actor, but that’s the vehicle, that’s what I do to make a living, but my job here as a child of God is to be a role model, and theres a quote I use: “My purpose in life is to help others so on that journey I will find my purpose.” So that’s why we’re here, to help other people find their purpose.
Q / Kim: I haven’t read your book yet, but both my daughter and I are looking forward to reading it. It’s your own story of your life, right?
A / IronE: Well, wait, just how old is your daughter?
Q / Kim: She’s 20 (I sound about 10 years old on the phone so I get that question a lot, or the ever common “hi honey, can I please talk to your mommy.”)
A / IronE: Ha, ha, okay then, you had me worried there, because there’s some raunchy material in there, being raised in the inner city there’s some rough parts, but it’s also educational, just not for kids.
Q / Kim: I think that it’s great you included all of that, you didn’t just tell the good, you kept it real.
A / IronE: I am glad you appreciate and respect that, cause I am not going to tell the good and not tell the bad, hows that going to help anybody, we as human beings have trials and tribulations, maybe not to that extreme, or maybe to a greater extreme, to do humanity any justice we have to tell it all, our whole story.
Q / Kim: That’s where your one man show (Blindsided by The Walking Dead) came from, right? From your book, your life story?
A / IronE: That’s right, there’s 200 plus pages in the book. I take it and turn it into a one man show, I take that story and tell it in two hours. Of course I can’t narrate in the stage play, but still I think that I hit all of the key points, and um convey the message pretty well. It’s very entertaining, so people that come will be pleased, it’s not a lecture, I even rap, I dance, do some stand up comedy, I think it’s one for the ages. I just watched it, and I was laughing and I was crying, and that’s me. I am still moved every time I watch it.
Q / Kim: Are you thinking of making it a DVD for those of us not in the south to come see the show?
A / IronE: Yes, the plan is well, we are starting in the south, but we will be taking it across the states, and hopefully even to Canada and then to Europe. Once we have done that we hope to have it on HBO or something like that, so yeah I think everyone will get to see it.
A / IronE: You’re in Oregon, right? What city?
Q / Kim: I am in Eugene, not too far from Portland. I would definitely make the drive to see your show.
A / IronE: Kimberly C, you’re making me feel too good, thank you. We may end up there in early spring of next year, that’s the game plan, but we just don’t know for sure, especially if something else were to come up, but that’s what’s on my list for right now, with my career. I got movies and such like that, but this takes top priority.
My message in there is truthful, it’s plain and simple, if you have truth and love in your heart, and you can say that through all of your actions, no matter what your circumstances, even if someone cuts you off in traffic, you won’t blow the horn at them, that stop and go, you won’t pull out in front of them, keep that truth and love in your heart you’re able to put it all into perspective and know not to take it personally they didn’t mean anything by it, they don’t know me personally, so why respond erratically, it’s truth and love, and everything else will fall into place, you know? It’s a beautiful world when you have that perspective. And I think that given my circumstances, where I came up, it kind of helped me to view things better.
Q / Kim: I find that’s so true, that those who have that attitude, a positive attitude, even when coming from a bad life or experiencing some rather tragic trials and tribulations, are the ones that survive and keep on going.
A / IronE: Kimberly, did you also have a time when you had some dire circumstances? (Kim note: IronE asks this in the kindest most empathetic voice, fame has not gone to his head, he is genuinely a good person)
Pause From Kimberly: I won’t put my whole personal life story here, let’s just say I shared with him a short synopsis (whole interview was to be and was only 20 minutes) of events in my life that were certainly traumatic to say the least, and also shared quickly the reason for making The High Tech Society, which wasn’t based on tragedy but was made to help others. His response:
A / IronE: I’m ready to read your book, see, that’s inspiring, you’re inspiring to me. I think every human being has a testimony on this earth, you can’t have lived and walked the face of this earth and not had a testimony, whether that testimony is used to inspire one person or a billion, we’re supposed to share it. You’ve inspired me Kimberly C, you keep on and keep on pushing, and you keep on and keep that spirit you have to help others. I thank you for sharing with me.
Q / Kim: I have another question on your one man show, what made you decide to do a one man show? Why not have other actors join you?
A / IronE: Well you know, this wasn’t the first time I have done my one man show. I actually did it first in 2008, which was at a time in my life when I wasn’t really sure of what I was going to be doing. At that time it was called: IronE the Resurrected. My back was against the wall, and I was like, I have been doing this acting thing for 15 years and nothing significant had come of it, something that would help my family financially.
So I did it in 2008 because I couldn’t find an agent, I went 10 years after graduating college without being able to find someone to represent me, and I didn’t know why, and so I thought, you know what, I need to do something on my own. I had done stage plays for others, and I thought,” you know, God has given me a gift to write, I’ll just write my own play, but how am I going to launch it?” Then I said, “you know what? Just do it, just write now and figure out the rest later.”
So I started writing and I looked down and I had 18 characters! I thought, 18 characters! Can I get maybe 9 people to play 2 characters, because my wife, she was the one holding everything down financially, she was the one working the 9-5 job so to speak, we had our benefits through her job, we had 3 children to take care of. And I had like 10 jobs, not like hers, but you know like odd jobs like I was a costume character, I did valet parking, waiting tables, but still not bringing in money like she was making, and I didn’t want to go to her and ask her to pay for it, she was working hard to pay for the things we needed, so I looked at these characters and I said, “you know what, I can play these roles, I have been trained to do these roles.”
It was a daunting task, I was afraid, but my wife had read the script and said to me “you have to do this.” It was the most challenging thing I had ever done in my career Kimberly, and when I did it, it was so exhilarating and I felt so free and I felt like I was doing what God put me here for. And on top of that Kimberly, I didn’t have to worry about time restraints of other actors, or any other issues (laughs), and I can rehearse here at home, my wife and I can rehearse at 2 a.m. if we want to.
Q / Kim: I just love everything you are doing and have done, you’re an amazing person, and wish I could keep talking to you, but I better stop here before Michelle (his PR agent) kills me for going over time (we both laugh), but you’re great, you and your wife both. Thank you so much for speaking with me and our readers, I / we loved getting to know you.
A / IronE: This was fantastic Kimberly, and I love what you stand for, and creating that website for others, I’m just so moved when I hear stuff like that, so I love you sweetheart, keep up what you’re doing, you inspire me and you inspire others. I look forward to meeting you one day.
Thank you dearly to IronE and our readers (your questions were very helpful, sorry I couldn’t ask them all) for helping with this interview. It was like speaking to a long time friend, he has a genuine kindness to him, and his goal to inspire others, it will happen, it already is.
So what else is up for IronE? There’s talk of a Walking Dead spin off and he hasn’t dismissed the idea or hope for being in it. He also has some scripts he’s looking at that he thinks are Oscar worthy, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens!
Want to follow IronE Singleton? You can find him on his website: IronESingleton.com, on Twitter @ironsingleton, on Facebook, and now also on the Walking Dead official website every Friday as he’ll be doing a regular column called ‘T-Dog! It’s Friday.’ Remember too that you can meet him November 1-3, 2013 in Atlanta while he’s at the Walker Stalker Con. We’ll be there too! So be sure to come back next week to read our highlights of the convention through writer, Jesse Brook.