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Spotlight On: Sheldon Bailey

Spotlight On: Sheldon Bailey
Photo Source: Doogie Benesch

Standing at 6 feet 6 inches tall, Bailey is a striking actor with a basketball and commercial background, currently making his television debut on Showtime’s “Shameless.”

On getting his role.
“At first I didn’t expect too much from the role. The first audition had everybody there—producers and writers. It was pretty short and sweet, but it was kind of rare what happened after that. I was on my way home and, not even 30 minutes later, I got a call from my agent saying, ‘They want to book you.’ I just thought it was going to be a one-episode deal, but it turned into more. So it’s just rolling right now. I guess I was the guy they envisioned.”

On his acting history.
“I’ve been acting for as long as I’ve been playing basketball. In high school, we’d usually have an hour or two before basketball, and I’d usually be in the theater department working on some type of project. In college I sought out theater professors who sometimes gave me their time for free, but every once in a while I would pay for classes. I still do casting workshops here and there but I mainly do private lessons.”

On commercials.
“A lot of people don’t respect commercial work for whatever reason, but it’s definitely acting and it’s given me so much experience in front of the camera. I’ve shot so many commercials with superstars that I’m comfortable and I’m just able to flow now.”

On the parallels between basketball and acting.
“One of the things that makes basketball really special is the ability to improv, and to make things your own. Whenever people break away from the play and they improvise and do some crazy move, that’s what really gets the crowd going, and I feel like you get that same feedback from doing something expressive on stage and on camera. To be able to express yourself freely is one of the best things and the closest similarity between acting and basketball.”

“Also, my process helped prepare me for the acting work—having a tough skin and really leaning on yourself and believing in yourself. I worked so hard at basketball that I’m really no stranger to hard work. Now, the hard work in the acting world is just routine.”


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