Scene Stealer: ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Star Anthony Ramos Is Soulful yet Goofy

Anthony Ramos in She's Gotta Have It
She's Gotta Have It, Anthony Ramos

She’s Gotta Have It actor Anthony Ramos shines in this Netflix series.

He Plays
Mars Blackmon—aka Da Original B-Boy Sneakerhead—who competes with three other lovers for the attention of pansexual artist Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise). “There was always a kid like Mars when I was growing up,” says the Brooklyn-born Ramos. “I know his ass: He’s kinda small and mad funny and a man of the people. He was popular because he was sincere and endearing.” Mars is all that—plus a stallion in the sack.

Where You’ve Seen Him
Ramos says he was dropped by his agent and went three years fearing he was “doomed to play Gangster No. 2 for the rest of my life.” But then he managed to score an audition for a little musical called Hamilton and was cast as two doomed characters—freedom fighter John Laurens and Alexander Hamilton’s son Philip. Ramos also plays Grace’s man-candy assistant Tony on Will & Grace, and next year hits your multiplex as Lady Gaga’s gay bestie in A Star Is Born.

Why We Love Him
His Mars is interplanetary, a seemingly impossible mix of effervescent goofiness and deep, deep soul, and even more delicious than Spike Lee’s take on the character in the 1986 film version of She’s Gotta Have It. Lee also played Mars opposite Michael Jordan in a series of iconic Nike commercials. “Anthony had big Jordans to fill when he took on this role, and he did it magnificently,” says executive producer Tonya Lewis Lee. “He makes you embrace Mars for who he is today—not who he was 30 years ago.”

How He Got the Gig
One night during a Hamilton curtain call, Ramos spotted the original Mars (also the series’ creator) in the second row. “He was clapping aggressively and pointing at me and I’m thinking, ‘What the hell?’” Ramos recalls. “Soon after, I get a message on my phone: ‘Ant-nee! It’s Spike. Call me.’ And he hired me for the series!” Ramos still isn’t sure why: “I don’t know what Spike saw that night—nothing I was doing in Hamilton was even remotely like Mars—but thank God he saw it.”

She’s Gotta Have It, Available now, Netflix