Netflix' excellent new series She’s Gotta Have It is mainly resting on the talent of DeWanda Wise, who plays central character Nola Darling, a pansexual, polyamorous black artist in search of herself.
Spike Lee, however, had a good idea to surround her with strong secondary characters. One of them is Mars Blackmon, Nola's youngest lover. In the 1986 movie, this somewhat excitable and nerdy character was played by Lee himself.
In the series, Lee gave the role to Anthony Ramos, who's making something quite different – and just as accomplished – of it. His take on Mars Blackmon results in a character who's a bit of a scoundrel, modern, fun and hyper, keen on wordplay (he reveals in one of the episodes that it's a way to deal with dyslexia).
This character has effortlessly become the most touching of Nola's three lovers: his wild puppy charm simply cracks her up. He might not be as handsome as Greer Childs and he might not have Jamie Overstreet's aura of wisdom and financial security, but we quickly understand he's the one who's really bringing Nola happiness.
He listens to her, prays for her, he apologizes when he's said something wrong and he even goes to investigate when her #MyNameIsNot campaign is vandalized.
Behind the improbable look and the huge black-rimmed glasses is Ramos, a 26-year-old actor and musician. He's mostly known for his double role as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the Broadway musical Hamilton (that landed a Grammy award and a bunch of Tonys too).
Ramon is of Puerto Rican descent but shares New York roots with his character in She’s Gotta Have It. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, which means that he's very much aware of the gentrification and racism issues the series is tackling: "There are so many people who live that life, that biracial reality that is not highlighted and talked about on television. It’s either you’re one thing or another," he said in an interview with USA Today.
This year, Anthony Ramos also appeared in the Will & Grace reboot and is working on his first solo album. And that's not all: he's also part of Bradley Cooper' debut movie A Star Is Born (alongside Lady Gaga no less), out in 2018. Further afield, in 2019, he'll be trying his hands at the blockbuster genre with Godzilla: King of Monsters.
There's no doubt Anthony Ramos is on his way to stardom, so good luck to him we say.