SW Michigan Native Playing Michigan Legend Magic Johnson in “Winning Time” HBO Series
The NBA Finals always get me in the mood for everything basketball. I can't tell you the number of times I've blown off dates and work events (at my previous jobs) when there's a good game on.
Even on days when there AREN'T games on - especially during the playoffs - I gotta find my basketball outlet. This year, it was the new HBO series "Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty." The focus of the show heavily leans on Dr. Larry Buss obtaining the Lakers in 1979, and acquiring one of the most electric players in NBA history - Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
The series is amazing (not for kids). So far, just one season about the "beginnings" of the dynasty, and if you're a fan of Magic's, it's definitely worth a watch. But with every movie or series I watch, I get curious about the "behind the scenes" stuff, and want to get to know the actors I'm unfamiliar with... and the kid playing Magic is something special, AND a fellow Michigander.
Who the heck is Quincy Isaiah?
Until this week, I had no idea. I'd never seen him in any other roles, or even as a background actor in anything. No commercials, no podcasts, nothing. And then... he lands his first major role in acting - EVER - as Magic FREAKIN' Johnson on an HBO series about the Lakers 80s dynasty.
This kid is phenomenal at playing Magic! An INCREDIBLE actor! So I dove into everything Quincy on the internet, and nearly fell off my couch when I discovered... he's from Muskegon! (WHAT!?!?)
Yeah, Quincy Isaiah is a Muskegon native, born and raised in southwest Michigan, AND he attended Kalamazoo College! (WHAT!?!?!) He was a football player in high school, so basketball was NOT his first choice, and began his college degree in business, but got coaxed into acting in his later years and fell in love.
During an interview with GQ Magazing about his 10 essential items, Isaiah said he started acting with a sold out, two-night sketch comedy show at K-College, then went to see The Lion King his senior year. That's what opened the flood gates for him.
(Quincy's earlier life in Muskegon is kept pretty tight for now, but if anyone knows how to get ahold of him or his family, I'd LOVE to pick his brain a bit!)
Why Haven't I Heard of Quincy Isaiah in any Acting Roles?
Right out of college, in 2017,Quincy moved to LA to act. On multiple interviews, he's said he took on hundreds of auditions, but never quite got the nod.
"I was getting encouraging words... it just never materialized." - Quincy Isaiah on Kelly and Ryan
Quincy was part of a short film called "Corporate Coffee" in 2018, but aside from that, most of his auditions resulted in no call backs.
He was working multiple jobs to stay afloat, and just months before the audition that would change his life, he was prepped to join the military. He went through the whole testing process, and did great - passed all of the tests... but like most of his previous auditions, the military didn't call back.
But this no-call turned out to be a blessing.
Quincy gets the role, and Plays the Part Perfectly
He was nearly done with Hollywood, when his agent got the call to him - a role he hadn't even prepped for, and he didn't even know much about.
"At that point, you can't speak anything. It's just pure joy in your body."
It was like he was born for the role. That smile, that charisma, the voice... EVERYTHING was spot on Magic Johnson.
I have to imagine, despite this being a dramatized series on the Lakers Legacy, even Magic himself had to do a double take when he saw Quincy on screen for the first time. Even I thought this was some kind of CGI trickery.
But nope, that's Quincy doing what he does best - act. Something he has told so many people he loved to do, and had a passion for. AND, for him to land the role of a legendary Michigander, as a FELLOW Michigander, it meant a lot to him.
So be proud Michigan, for one of your own. Quincy Isaiah - and the rest of an incredible cast - absolutely crush their roles in this series, and it's a perfect watch during NBA Finals Season.