Overbrook’s Dannon Green connects with Kevin Hart in ‘Real Husbands’
In the exciting but highly unpredictable world of entertainment, perseverance is often as important as talent, and for talented comedian Dannon Green, that perseverance earned him a plum role in the return of “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” airing at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 29 on BET.
“When they sent me the script, my eyes popped open, because I had five scenes,” Green said during a recent interview with The Philadelphia Tribune. The determined comedian/actor revealed that he auditioned for “Real Husbands of Hollywood” three times before finally landing the role of “Luggy” from St. Louis.
“My story line is with Nelly, and Luggy is a guy who was before Nelly. He was bigger than Nelly back in St. Louis,” Green explained, “Nelly kind of always wanted to be like me, and I was the one who took Nelly to his first talent show. We both were there, but he booked it, and then I ran on hard times. So I found out where Nelly was and I go back and talk to him like, ‘Yo, Man! If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be havin’ all this!’
Growing up in New York’s foster care system, Green faced personal challenges beyond the usual rigors of show business. His mother, who suffered from “respiratory problems,” was forced make him a ward of the state when he was only 10-months-old. She died at the tender age of 26, and Green lived in eight different places before being adopted as a seven-year old and moving to West Philadelphia.
While it would appear that Green had finally found his happily-ever-after, he would endure a series of losses that would once again put his perseverance to the test.
“What happened was, my first year at Dobbins [High School], my adoptive mother died,” Green said. “I went to three other high schools after that. My adoptive brother, Mike, he took care of me. He actually passed a couple of years ago — he took care of me until I was 17.”
Green’s perseverance would sustain him through college, and ultimately to a Master’s degree in computer animation from Ohio State University. Indeed, his career in comedy is a matter of happenstance.
“My first year in grad school at Ohio State, a friend of mine, we used to always meet at a club on Fridays,” Green recalled. “So he came late one night and he said, ‘Hey Danny, me and Tasha — his girlfriend at the time — we went to a comedy show the other night, man! I ain’t gonna lie. You’re funnier than them dudes! You should be a comedian!’ “I just blew him off! I told him to shut the hell up, because I always wanted to be a business man. In our era, you wanted to grow up to hold a briefcase, so I just blew it off.
“As time went on, I graduated from Ohio State, and after I graduated, I was job hunting. I was driving down the street one day and I saw this marquee that said, ‘Open Mic Night,’ and I said, ‘You know what? People keep saying you’re funny...’ I was job hunting, I was a fine dining waiter in Columbus, Ohio...’Why don’t you just try it?’
“I signed up and I called my buddy, Fred Prinze, and I said, ‘Look man, I want to try some stand-up comedy,’ and he was like, ‘You’d better not embarrass me!’ I’m like, ’Nobody knows who you are!
“So I wind up getting my name picked out of a hat, because they had more comedians than spots. It’s funny, because if I didn’t get my name picked, I might not have done it, but they picked my name out the hat out of 15, 17 people, and it was just eight of us. You know those open mic things. It was a competition and I got second place — my first time going onstage!”
Green has since evolved into an energetic, enthusiastic and determined entertainer who does not take any opportunity for granted. While he has appeared in feature films such as “Butter” and “Baby Boy,” and on the small screen in “The Shield” and “Family Time,” Green believes that “Luggy” will be a breakthrough role for him. Recalling the moment he met Kevin Hart, the star of “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” he said, “He came out the trailer and they introduced me, and he said to our producer, ’Yeah, yeah, yeah! He cool! I can deal with him! I can vibe with him!”
As Dannon Green excitedly anticipates the debut of his episode, he acknowledges the role that Philadelphia played in making this moment possible.
“I really want the readers to know that I never forgot Philadelphia,” he said. “It was a painful move for me because my mom died... I never wanted to move. Ever since I’ve been into entertainment, since ’94 — the first time I was on TV — even though I didn’t live in Philadelphia, I’ve always had everybody say, ‘from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!’
In parting, Green left our readers with a poignant message on the power of perseverance saying, “I think it’s important, one, that people know that you can make it even though you’ve got great odds against you, because I’ve had tremendous odds against me, and two — I never forgot where I came from. Philadelphia is not like New York, it’s not like D.C.. We’ve got our own thing, and I come from the Hilltop [Overbrook] — from the Hilltop Hustlers, that’s what we’re known as, and I never gave up.
“When my mom died, everybody came to help me because I was a foster kid, and I had nobody after that. So I just think it’s important that Philadelphia and the world really knows that no matter what the odds are, if you believe in God, or whatever you believe in, if you put your foot forward and you do right by people, there’s going to be somebody there to help you.
“In terms of the show, it’s the biggest show on BET. It has millions of followers, just ’cause of who Kevin is. To be a guy who had to go through what I’ve been through, I can say, ‘Hey, I worked on this show with Kevin Hart,’ and ‘I know Denzel,’ for me to come up to where I’m at, if I don’t go another day, I made it!”