Photo by Jeremy David Creative
*EDITOR’S NOTE: While Brashaad Mayweather is an actor from America, he has been based in South Africa, where this is no actors’ union, for the past three years and is NOT a current SAG-AFTRA member. These conditions allow him to be able to talk about One Piece without disrupting the rules of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.
Brashaad Mayweather has been casually doing big things, but he feels there is more yet to come in his story.
The actor/writer recently released his indie comedy, Summer with the Guys, which he wrote and starred in alongside his friends and fellow actors, Brannon Watson, James Hal Hardy and Step Up: High Water‘s Terrence Green, who also directed. Mayweather said that the bare bones of the story is based loosely on his own life as a college football player in Florida.
“All the characters, all those friends, those are really my best friends in college and a new coach really came in. He really cut scholarships,” he said. “He didn’t cut my scholarships, but he had cut my friends’ scholarships, and we really did move to Florida for the summer. We had jobs set up, but then something happened and we couldn’t get those jobs, just like in the movie. But we did not become strippers, but in the dorm room sometime, we used to have little private parties and have fun playing little games with ladies, and we might strip, they might strip, so that’s where the whole stripping part came about.”
Mayweather said that this film was “a project that God brought to me” because he didn’t go to school for screenwriting, however he knew he had a story to tell.
“I just wanted to tell a cool story that could be interesting and show the other side because we always hear about college football players and [how] they’re more big on the ego or they’re like superstars. But this one I wanted to have these college guys in a compromising position that they didn’t necessarily want to do,” he said. “This film, to me, was just something I wanted to create…and see if I could make a lane for all of my friends who were in the same agency and build more jobs to show our talent.”
The goal for making this movie, he said, was “to be able to create more movies.”
“I have so many talented friends that are in Hollywood and [we wanted] to see if we could make it happen, so it was unbelievable and a super blessing. [It was] an extreme blessing that we made it through.”
One of the things that stuck out to me as I watched the film was how professional it looked for a debut film. Mayweather said that thanks to his time in the industry, he had connections that allowed Summer with the Guys to be at a higher level out of the gate.
“That was a and part of the hardest part [of making the movie],” he said regarding being able to have the connections to create a professional-looking film. “I’ve been in Hollywood for almost a decade, [so] I was able to reach out. I did something for Furious 7, for the IMAX version…So I reached out the producer, who I was cool with. He helped me get my sound guy. One of the first jobs I ever booked in L.A., that guy connected me with Warren Zide, who was the producer of all of the American Pie [films]…I reached out to the best of the best and I called in favors.”
“We shot this during COVID when there wasn’t that much going on. So I was able to get people for a lot cheaper,” he continued. “Our gaffer, she’s won an Emmy. So I was really able to pull different people in to pull it together. And I mean, if I had more money, it could have been better, but I did the best with what I had, you know?”
Mayweather hails from America, but is currently making his home and career in South Africa, which has a huge hub for American productions, as he explained.
“This is where I just did One Piece, this is where I filmed One Piece,” he said. “This is where I did Deep Blue Sea 3. This is where I did Raised by Wolves. A lot of my American work is done here. We have Cape Town Film Studios; it’s huge here in that Cape Town Film Studios is where Warner Bros., Netflix, HBO, TNT, they all film here. This is like a hub out side of America.”
He described the opportunities he has in Cape Town as both an American and a Black American.
“There’s two sides to it. One, they [the world] love Black people outside of America, period. Two, in South Africa, they love Americans. There’s not that many Americans here working. So there’s a script I’m working on now, I’m auditioning for. It’s an American role. I did a Porsche commercial that I’m the lead in. That’s worldwide but it’s for an American [branch of the company]. I did some Trivago [ads]. So a lot of stuff is very American-based. Cape Town looks like a small L.A. but cleaner and prettier. Working here is amazing, and just being in the motherland is like, I’m here! It’ feels so great.”
“In America,” he continued, “you have to be a superstar to truly get love [as a Black person]–an actor or entertainer, rapper, whatever. Any type of entertainer. But here they love for coming here, respecting them and just being a part [of the culture] and doing things here. So that’s why I love it here.”
While Mayweather is carving out his own lane in the filmmaking industry, he’s also gaining fans worldwide as Patty, one of the line cooks of the Baratie, in the live-action Netflix version of One Piece. He said that being a part of that production was “amazing.”
“It’s bigger than I thought it would be,” he said. “It was Netflix’s number one show for a minute–it still is in a lot of countries. So being on that has opened up the world more to me…Being in South Africa, being part of this and having fans from Thailand, Germany…it’s been amazing because I’ve never just wanted to be a Black American. I wanted to be a man of color who can inspire the world and One Piece has opened the door. So I’ve been riding that wave and I’m gonna keep riding it and pushing it period. It’s amazing.”
He also believes, like a lot of fans, that this adaptation “is the best that has been put out, period.”
“When I rewatched the anime I was like, ‘Man, we did the wardrobe, the costume, the story–how these people look is so good.’ It’s really good…It is the best and the fans are loving it,” he said. “…I look forward to doing more anime and I know for my character, there’s a lot more that I wish they could have put in there [from the anime], but there was so much more that they had to…be put into to stay true to [the anime]. But I do know that when Sanji’s wanted poster comes…that’s when there should be a flashback, and hopefully they’ll bring me back for that part.”
What Mayweather said he loved about the live-action adaptation and the anime is how it focused on the power of going after your dreams.
“I like in general the storyline of believing like Luffy, believing that you could be the best at something, regardless of what everybody thinks,” he said. “Bringing people together from different walks of life and the human inside of us that makes us want to stand up for a person even if we didn’t necessarily like that person. When somebody’s doing wrong, the good [can come] together to overtake the evil. That’s a great lesson in life.”
Mayweather confirmed Netflix’s announcement that a second season is already underway, and he added that the season has already been written. What has to happen now is for the studios to finally agree to what the actors are asking for in the SAG-AFTRA strike (and, at the time the interview was conducted, the writers’ strike as well, but the writers and studios have since negotiated an agreement, thereby ending their strike).
“Before the strikes, right now, filming was supposed to already be happening,” he said. “I was just on set where we filmed a month ago to watch the screening [and] the ships are still there. Everything is set up, everything is literally…ready to go. We just need the SAG-AFTRA strike to end. But outside of that, we still have everything still over there [at the studio] set up.”
Mayweather’s advice to others wanting to make it in the industry is similar to something Luffy himself might say–to go for it.
“Simply go for what you want and do the best that you can,” he said. “The best that you can do is all that you can do. Don’t worry about polishing everything; you will learn as you go. Reach out, ask people, learn as you go, and continue to do better as you go. It’ll naturally happen, but if you never start…you never get anywhere.”
“You never know, but if you do your best at least you know you did your best,” he continued. “However it comes out, you did your best. You can’t do more than doing your best.