Cuban-American actor, singer, and model Rome Flynn is no stranger to introspection and is upfront about who he is. He knows that the journey to self-discovery includes constantly seeking opportunities to learn more and educate others about his culture. In his new role in Paramount +’s Fantasy Football as a hot-shot NFL running back, the triple-threat actor had a chance to make his personal heritage known both on and off-screen.
At 31, the Chicago-raised Afro-Cuban actor has been cast in many diverse, culture-captivating shows that led television ratings in their heydays such as How To Get Away With Murder, Dear White People, As The World Turns, and his history-making role as Zende Forrester Dominguez in the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. Flynn was the first Afro-Latino actor to win a Daytime Emmy award for this role. His response when asked about it was, “I was super surprised at first by knowing that I was the first to do so… like this hasn’t been done before?” His shocked sentiment emphasizes how many firsts Hollywood has still yet to reach.
“Fantasy Football was the first opportunity I’ve been able to play a character that is so similar to me,” Flynn tells LATINA. The Paramount + original film was produced by super-athlete LeBron James and the young actress Marsai Martin (Blackish, Little). Flynn plays the main role of Anderson Fisher, an Afro-Latino father and quarterback of a winning NFL team. Flynn is quite fond of his character Fisher, and wants to continue to play positive depictions of Latin fatherhood. “He is Afro-Cuban but through an American lens… and I love how the movie highlights a different type of Latino that I feel can be forgotten in film.”
Flynn understands he is charting new territory by being the first Afro-Cuban awarded for his roles. He aims to bring Afro-Latinos to the spotlight in the continued narrative and history of cinema. Fortunately, he will have the chance to lead this change with each new role and character he transforms into. On a sunny winter Wednesday in Los Angeles, actor, singer, and model Flynn spoke with LATINA about his eagerness to learn more about his culture, movie-making, and wanting to become a part of DC and the Marvel Universe.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
From winning a 2018 Emmy for The Bold and the Beautiful to being booked back to back on projects for Netflix, Paramount+, CBS, Amazon Studios, and more, what has your schedule been like?
It’s been a real season of transition for me in the best possible way. A lot of people may not know that I have been in this business for over ten years. Since being involved in it, it’s been interesting. This year, I’ve been rebranding and refocusing on what I want from out of the year. Time is just not waiting for anybody.
What shows or films have you been watching in your downtime?
Well, let me first say that I love a good film. With streaming now, we’ve become accustomed to getting all of our episodes up front. The one show that kind of reverted me to waiting for an episode to come out is The Last of Us. I would say my guilty pleasure is that I watch a lot of Gordon Ramsay. I’m a huge fan of MasterChef and I’ve watched every season of Hell’s Kitchen. I keep up with Shark Tank and Severance too. I am trying to reflect more on what I’m watching. Gordon just has such a special charisma, man. He makes me want to learn how to cook more.
I know you played sports when you were younger… What was the most fun scene to shoot for Fantasy Football?
Filming that movie, I got to work with some people that I wanted to work with for a long time. It was made in conjunction with the NFL, and the movie was produced by LeBron’s company, which I’m a huge fan of. When I signed on to do the movie, I wasn’t sure how they were going to do the football aspect of it. There isn’t a show or a movie that was able to use the NFL’s likeness or the team names. So when we were able to film at the actual stadium, it felt like a huge dream come true that I didn’t know I had for myself.
I’ve always played basketball and I played football in high school, so I was definitely wide-eyed trying to really appreciate being there. The scenes I loved most were when I was throwing the ball around on the field with Bobby, Omari Hardwicks’ character, because we had great chemistry. That’s my big brother.
How was it to transform athletically for your lead role in Fantasy Football?
My trainer, Cesar Amoila, has trained me for every role that I’ve had that needed training. Every role does typically come with some level of fitness. I want to really stay true to who this person is. I had about a month to train before I got out to the field. Ultimately, my goal was to make sure that my stunt double did as little as possible. I really tried to get my mind prepared to be this elite athlete, to train like them and see the world the way Anderson might be seeing it. In order for me to step in there and do my job fully, I train my body and my mind will follow.
Was learning the play-by-plays tough, and did you use a stuntman for most of the unique movements in the film?
It was probably one of the more freeing projects that I’ve done creatively. We were all collaborating with our director Anton Cropper. He was just very open to traveling down the road of figuring out what this role wants, not trying to stay one note or playing in a way where you didn’t like [my character]. I wanted people to reluctantly like Anderson’s position, but also just find him funny. If you look at the comedy greats, people like Eddie Murphy or Will Ferrell, these guys are hilarious, not because they’re trying to be funny, but because they’re put in situations that happen to be funny.
What did you relate most to with your character?
I really tried to make a complex individual out of Anderson Fisher. I know there is a lot of stigma with superstar athletes and that kind of carried his boisterous, larger-than-life persona. But what I tried to do, in a nutshell, was really just connect those dots, because I do think there is an egotistical atmosphere around being an elite athlete. In order to be great, you almost have to drink your own Kool-Aid. You’ve got to believe you’re the best in order to be that. That’s kind of how athletes operate. They’re very passionate at the moment. Guys like OBJ were somebody I looked toward when I was looking at who I wanted to kind of vaguely emulate. I do think there was a method to his [the characters] madness.
Now, if you could take on any new dream role in the future, what type of hero or character would you want to play? Any genre preference?
I would love to be in the MCU universe… to play a superhero as an Afro-Latino, or include my identity in any project would be a huge accomplishment for me. I would love to be in a psychological thriller where I get to play with the lines of reality, because I do think that’s the hardest thing to do in order to get people to buy into outrageous concepts.
Is there a quality about Cuba’s culture that you’d like more people to be aware of?
I think there is this misconception that Latinos in general, but specifically Cubans, are only one color. Cubans can be really dark, too. There are so many outside voices of people who probably aren’t privy to Cuban culture. They’re kind of just analyzing Cuba from a perspective of what they can see from the media. We got a lot of flavors there, man. A lot of music, and a lot of people speak differently there.
You can stream Fantasy Football on Paramount+.