26:NEXT! FROM ACTOR'S ACCESS TO APPEARING ON HBO! DELANTE DESOUZA DEBUTS!
If the last couple of years has taught us anything, it's to seize every moment while we're here and follow our dreams with ultimate abandon. Imagine now co-star of HBOMax's new series "Winning Time" actor Delante Desouza's surprise, when an online self-tape ACTUALLY landed him a career catapulting role! It truly beckons the belief that out of billions, "what's meant for you will never pass you by". We got a chance to dive into some Q+A with the arriving actor & here's what he had to say about timing, technique and 2026?
Photography: Ben Cope
As told to: Corey Guevarra, Editor In Chief
Wardrobe: Jordan Gross
Grooming: Marsha Shearrill
WE BEGAN SEEING HEADLINES OF YOUR “WINNING TIME” CASTING ANNOUNCEMENT WAY BACK IN 2019, IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT THIS SHOW HAS BEEN A LOONG TIME COMING?
For sure! Winning Time was in development for years before, with the pilot being shot and completed back in late 2019. We were supposed to premiere in 2021, but due to the shutdown, everything was pushed back a year and we didn’t get to premiere until now, but Winning Time has been in the works for a while now!
WHAT WERE ALL OF THE DELAYS LIKE FOR YOU?
The delays were honestly a blessing in disguise. On one hand, I was already out in LA preparing to film when I got the news that we were gonna be delayed for almost a year, but on the other hand, that gave me time to really work on my character and practice playing basketball so that I could come in ready for whatever the show needed me to do physically. I don’t think I could have given my best if I didn’t have that extra time to prepare.
& HOW DOES IT FEEL TO NOW (FINALLY) HAVE THE SHOW UP & OUT FOR NEW AUDIENCES TO SEE?
It feels amazing! For everyone to be able to see what we’ve dedicated the last 2 years of our lives to is a feeling like no other. The blood, sweat, tears, and passion that went into this show truly makes it special, and I hope that it’s just as special for our audience to watch as it was for us to make.
DO YOU HAVE A HISTORY IN SPORTS? WAS IT EASY TO TRAIN & ADAPT FOR THIS ROLE? DID YOU DO ANY CHARACTER STUDYING?
I did track & field in high school, so I have an athletic background and had some transferable skills that I brought from track to basketball, but there was an entirely new set of skills and challenges that I had to learn in order to portray Michael Cooper. Fast breaks, no-look passes, and high energy, entertaining basketball are what defined the Showtime Lakers, so authentically capturing that essence and making sure it believably translated on camera was the biggest challenge in my training and preparation for the role.
DELANTE WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY? WHAT’S YOUR BACKSTORY?
I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland. I started acting back in high school at a theater in Baltimore called Arena Players, which is the oldest continuously operating African-American community theater in the United States. My older cousin convinced me to check it out on a whim and I immediately discovered my love for the craft of acting as soon as I stepped on the stage.
I continued to act in plays here and there throughout my high school and college years until I decided that I wanted to do it professionally back in 2018.
I auditioned for tv shows in New York for about a year before I randomly saw an open casting call for Winning Time on the internet. I sent in my information, not thinking much of it, and I happened to get an audition request for Michael Cooper. I sent in my tape, met with the producers, and the rest is history, haha!
THIS IS YOUR ONSCREEN DEBUT CORRECT? HOW HAS THIS ENTIRE FEELING BEEN, SETTING OUT TO BEGIN AN ACTING CAREER, THEN STARTING OFF MAJORLY WITH HBO?!
Yes, it is! It’s been euphoric (pun intended, haha!) But on a serious note, this journey has been absolutely amazing and I’ve learned so much working on such a prolific project that I feel like I’ve gotten a huge head start on my acting career. Starting off on HBO ain’t half bad, either!
WHAT SORT OF ROLE WOULD YOU MOST WANT TO PLAY NEXT?
I always joke with my team that if I got to play a superhero, I’d retire from acting, LOL -I’ve always loved superhero comics and cartoons growing up, so playing a superhero would be the role of a lifetime for me!
DO YOU HAVE ANY HIDDEN TALENTS OR HOBBIES PEOPLE MIGHT FIND SURPRISING?
Actually, back in college, I used to be a DJ and music producer. Me and my roommate would DJ at house parties and host recording sessions at a bedroom studio we built as a way to make grocery money and we got pretty good at it. I gravitated more towards music production and always say that in another life, if I wasn’t an actor, I would be a music producer.
2020 WAS A HUGE YEAR THAT RECAST LIGHT ON RACIAL INJUSTICE. IN SPORTS PARTICULARLY THERE WERE POLITICIANS TELLING PLAYERS TO “SHUT UP & DRIBBLE”. BACK IN YOUR SHOW’S ERA, SPORTS FIGURES WERE NOT AS OUTSPOKEN AS SAY LEBRON [JAMES] IS TODAY. DOES THE SHOW & OR YOUR CHARACTER VEER INTO ANY RACE RELATIONS OF THAT TIME?
Absolutely! In addition to capturing the state of the NBA and basketball in the 80’s, Winning Time is also a snapshot of 80’s culture, highlighting racial issues and injustices present during that time, especially in sports. Winning Time is about so much more than basketball, it should be a riveting experience!
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH POWERHOUSE ACTORS PARTICULARLY IN SUCH A LARGE ENSEMBLE CAST AS YOUR FIRST GO ROUND?
It was such an awesome experience! Every second I was on set, I was learning from Adrien Brody, Jason Clarke, Jason Siegel, Wood Harris, and John C. Reilly. Watching them perform was like a masterclass on the craft every day. Those guys are such incredible performers and kind-hearted individuals. You couldn’t have asked for a better group of veteran actors to learn from as a new actor. It was great.
HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED MOST SINCE BOOKING & FILMING THE SHOW?
Well now I can commentate on a NBA game with an informed opinion and sound like I know what I’m talking about LOL. To be honest, not much has changed in my day to day life, but I’m honestly grateful that I’m still able to live my life normally. I’m just enjoying the calm before the storm.
WHERE CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ACTOR OR IN ENTERTAINMENT AS A WHOLE BY SAY, 2026?
By 2026, I hope to be producing my own TV shows and films, so that’s the ultimate goal for me. I’d like to be in front of and behind the camera because that’s where I think you can begin to tell your own stories.
We can't wait to see Delante!