ROME FLYNN [HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER]
WORDS BY IRVIN RIVERA
Actor and singer ROME FLYNN currently stars as the enigmatic character of Gabriel in the legal drama How To Get Away With Murder now in its 6th and final season.
Flynn’s hustle started when he moved to Los Angeles with two bags of clothes, and worked at Macy’s and P.F. Chang’s at the same time. When he got fired he took it as a sign from God; giving him clues and guiding him to his path- acting.
“I told myself that I wasn’t gonna work another job again unless I was working for myself. That’s kinda how I willed my way into doing anything acting wise.” The actor said.
In this exclusive interview, read on as the rising star and How To Get Away With Murder actor shares his acting journey and projects, playing Gabriel in HTGAWM, the importance of representation in the characters he play, his music projects and why he didn’t want a #SaveHTGAWM hashtag.
How did acting start for you?
My first project was Drumline: A New Beat, it was a TV movie. I got casted through Bille Woodruff who fought for me in the room to be in the movie. So that was my first big project into acting but I hadn’t thought about acting my entire life. I had nine to five jobs most of my life not until I moved here in LA.
Out of all the characters that you have played so far, do you have a specific favorite and why?
It’s really hard to pick favorites. I think the way I look at it – It depends on the people that I’m working with. I have favorites based on the relations that I had in the works that I’ve done
I guess my favorite so far is my role in How To Get Away With Murder playing Gabriel because I feel like there’s obviously a lot that goes along with playing that character on this caliber of a show. I got a great material doing that show. It’s probably one of my favorites. And then this movie I did for LIFETIME called Ten (Ten Murder Island). Maybe not many people saw it but I really enjoyed that film. It’s a murder mystery. It is interesting because I haven’t really done anything like that. My third favorite is NCIS: New Orleans where I played Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Rudd who was deep rooted in a very poverty-stricken community. You get to see him grow up within the thirty minutes of that show. I learned a lot doing that.
Speaking of How to Get Away With Murder and your character Gabriel, what’s the best part about playing him?
I think the best part to me is just navigating essentially the stigma of playing a character and trying to keep him honest and immersed in the my culture and where I came from. I think it can be very easy for a person, based on a role, to let the role kind of adapt to them. I wanna make sure that I don’t whitewash the character. Because I guess the stigma is that a lot of people don’t really see lawyers or students who are in law school who are people of color unless they come from a specific background. I tried to keep it honest to reflect the word around me. I think this representation is another reason why this is one of my most important roles so far. I want kids to see it and see that they look like me and hear me talk like them. I want them to realize that they can do things that are very intelligent and studious but also can be themselves and not necessarily have the title of being a lawyer or working to be a lawyer.
I try to make sure to keep him [Gabriel] honest and human as I can.
So when people watch it, I want them to feel like “Damn he sounds like me but he’s also in school and also doing these other things.”
How exciting will Gabriel’s part be in this new season?
The expectations are obviously high, which they should be. People have been watching the show for five years. I believe in the writers that we have. I believe in Viola leading the charge for all of us and plan on our instincts. I think that with those combinations of things, we would be able to finish the story. I think that a lot of people are upset that this is the last season but I wanna shed light to the fact that we have an opportunity to tell a story in full circle.
The one thing I didn’t want to happen was to have a Save How To Get Away With Murder hashtag. It’s always best to have the story told in full circle. All good things come to an end and I want the body of work to stand on it’s own. Instead of maybe getting cancelled or getting finished by having the ending that people wanted.
It will be a classic after it is done.
You don’t want it to drag anyway.
It’s true. I would’ve liked one more season honestly. That’s just me, personally, because I felt like we’re just uncovering Gabriel’s story. But the writers did a great job in facilitating the story. I wanna continue working with Viola, I want to learn as much as I can in working with Cicely Tyson and Glynn Turman- they’ve been pillars of the black community and the acting community. Just to be around them and work with them, they’ve been on numerous sets and movies and have been this for fifty years, their amount of knowledge are priceless.
What’s next for you?
A lot of stuff. Acting wise, I have a film that came out September 10th. It’s on every digital platform. It’s called ½ New Year. It’s a comedy. It will be the first time that people will see me in a comedy. I’m actually playing a character that is dependent on comedic timing which was really fun to do. So that just came out. Then I have a movie in Hallmark coming out called A Christmas Duet, I’m playing an artist so people will get to see me intertwine the music and the acting part of it. I sing. I’ve sang a couple of original songs and I’ve sang a couple of holiday classics in it which was fun. I also did a sitcom called Family Reunion in Netflix. I did Part 3 in that. They just released part 1. It maybe a couple of months before they release part 3 but I got to work with Loretta Devine who is absolutely a legend in every aspect as far as comedy and drama. I also got to work with Tia Mowry.
I’m also doing music. I am actually done with my EP right now. It’s called Energy. I’m just doing polishing touches on everything. I have a single that I will drop pretty soon. I am navigating the whole music thing and trying to make the transition to doing both world- music and acting.
If you were a book, what book would you be and why?
It’s interesting because I wanna write a book. I think if I can be a book, I would be something relating to an understanding; something that if you read it, you would understand yourself a little bit better. I think we are all very complex. A lot of times we don’t understand how we feel or try to understand why things are happening. I think that I would like people to say that I have a good grounding about myself. If I could write a book, it would be about that- about navigating life and understanding what’s important and what’s not.
See Rome Flynn as Gabriel in How To Get Away With Murder Season 6