Rome Flynn Talks "Fantasy Football," R&B Pursuits, & Rising Above Misconceptions

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For our last interview of our "12 Days of Christmas" series, actor-singer Rome Flynn caught up with us to discuss his new film, holding things down for the holidays, and hopefully, releasing an EP in 2023.

For over a decade, Rome Flynn has carefully carved out his place in the industry. With each step—and each new gig—his vision shifts ever so slightly as he walks a new path. Maybe you recognize Flynn from How to Get Away with Murder; Netflix's Family Reunion, Raising Dion, or Dear White People; or his Emmy Award-winning role on the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful. His journey has brought him to Fantasy Football, Flynn's most recent Paramount+, Nickelodeon feature that hosts a star-studded cast: Kelly Rowland, Marsai Martin, and Omari Hardwick also help round things out. It's a role that helped Flynn check off a few career boxes, or so he told us in our extensive interview with him for our 12 Days of Christmas series.

It is common for creatives to hold several artistic interests, and for Flynn, it's all about finding balance—and time. Aside from his successful career as an actor, Flynn is an R&B singer who has racked up millions of streams. However, you won't see him on a label's roster, at least not soon, as he has purposefully remained independent as he navigates his next steps. In conversing with him, the actor seems grounded and intentional in his moves, and we can expect to see and hear more from him as he stacks new projects and plans to release more music in the new year.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 17: Actor Rome Flynn arrives at the "Fantasy Football" Premiere & Event at Paramount Studios, Sherry Lansing Theatre on November 17, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Paramount+)
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"It's always on the horizon. When it comes to music, it's such a different creative process for me," Flynn told us. "And also a different creative responsibility for me, as in comparison to TV and film. Those things, again, I get a start date and end date, regardless if it's a TV show or a movie. I know when I'm going to start something and when it's going to be finished. At some point, I'll know when it's coming out. Music is a different beast. We deal in a space creatively with collaboration and when you deal in that sense, you're dealing with other people's time. It's not necessarily just me."

As we reconnected with Flynn, we speak to him about Fantasy Football, his music pursuits, why the holidays are more about giving than receiving when you're an adult, and not being as vain as people think.

This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.

HNHH : Thank you so much for catching up with us once again! I know Fantasy Football was recently released, congratulations on that. Tell us about working on the film with such a talented cast.

Rome Flynn: Uniquely with this movie, I got to play not only a football player but an NFL player. And not just an NFL player, but an elite NFL player in conjunction with EA Sports and Madden, and the NFL getting behind the film was a huge deal. So, it was just a lot of boxes that had been checked for me. And aside from this amazing cast, I wanted to do this for so many reasons. The people producing it, they produce amazing things with Genius Productions, which is [Marsai Martin] and her parents' company. So, I wanted to definitely work with her. [SpringHill Productions] was another big thing for me because they do things that are really good. On top of that, it's Nickelodeon, it's Paramount+. It covers different bases for me.

Ultimately, working with this cast—you know, I signed on without knowing it would be [Omari Hardwick]. Then, when I found out it was him, it was another thing that I added to the list for me. And also, working with him in a capacity where he also isn't as known as much for doing comedy. Same for me. It was a big thing for me to be a part of this, to be a protagonist and also be somewhat of a comic relief, which is not something I've done a lot in my past work. And yeah, it's a great film. I think people are now starting to watch it and get behind it. I think it'll have the same impact as cult favorites have when it comes to sports in conjunction with family and these sorts of elements that people tend to watch around this time of year.

Speaking of checking those boxes of things you wanted to do, and casting vision to do as we enter into 2023, what are some resolutions or goals you have? What do you see yourself moving into in the new year?

My thing with resolutions is, it's sort of become a crutch for people to have this opportunity to say, "Well, I'll start next year." Or, "January 1st is when I'll begin to do these things that I really want to do." And I just say, why not now? We only have right now, that's the only thing we have. At this moment, we don't know what's going on in the future. As we can see, we lost a whole year, two years, with Covid. It's just one of those things where, if you feel that passion, you have to initiate that when you feel it. It comes and goes. Life happens! Life happens to you and ultimately, you might not be able to go do those things that you want to do when you really had the opportunity at that moment that you thought of it.

So, for me, I don't really do a lot of resolutions as opposed to just being really specific about what I want for myself. Not necessarily just about the beginning of the year, but like, just overall, for the year. As you go further in your career and life, this goes for anybody that does anything that is in a creative space—whether it's music, art, acting—you get more in the progression of what you do. Ultimately, what ends up happening is you become good at it. You become trusted at this thing that you do. You get more opportunities.

In the past, for me, it was just wanting those opportunities, and now I'm in a position where I get plenty of opportunities. Just trying to make the right—the one that I feel more passionate about is the one that I lean toward. Whether it's music or acting. And so, that's just kinda how I navigate deciding where I want to be next year.

Ultimately, I do have certain goals that I want to meet for next year. Really specific. And you kinda have to be that way. If you don't set your intentions in a way where you ask to receive these things in the amount of time that you want them, precisely the way you want them, then I think it leaves the universe in a place to kinda fill in the blanks. If you allow that to happen, I mean, sh*t, anything can happen.

Read More: Rome Flynn Moves From Acting To R&B As He Puts Vulnerability On Display

For instance, I was saying I wanted to a film at the end of the year, but I wasn't really specific about—not necessarily where I wanted it to take place, but I had just been saying to myself, that I wanted to do something and a bunch of things had come, but it wasn't that thing. I think, had I been more specific about my intention on what kind of film, the kind of character, the sort of things you get really detailed about, it really starts to materialize in a real way once you do that.

So, for me, that's kinda how I navigate what I'm trying to accomplish throughout the year. And just being patient and knowing that there's always something greater. Even when things don't work out. I'm always in a place of gratitude. Just understand that this is such a f*ckin' luxury to do what you want to do for a living and to be paid for it and to be recognized for it. Granted, I've been doing this almost ten years. It seems to some people I've become like, this overnight success thing. But that's just the way our attention spans are set up. We pay attention to what's in front of us, but you know, thankfully, I've just been continuing to grow in my craft.

As far as specifically what I want to do next year, I really want to do more films. More indie films. Films that give me an opportunity to showcase another aspect of my craft that I just haven't recently. I do a lot of television which is fun, but there's a certain finality when it comes to film, where you get a beginning and end, and knowing that you have a place to go when it comes to film gives you an opportunity to map out how you want this character to be. There's something amazing about that.

As opposed to working on a show where, man, first year is great, next year you're like, "I'm doing what?" Now, you're talking to the writers about how you ended up at this place. It's an uphill battle. Whatever road you take. Ultimately, I want to do more films and transition. Less television and more films.

Many actors I've known speak about the growth a good indie film can give. And music? Where are you in that landscape? Is that something still on the horizon soon or farther off than you think?

It's always on the horizon. When it comes to music, it's such a different creative process for me. And also a different creative responsibility for me, as in comparison to TV and film. Those things, again, I get a start date and end date, regardless if it's a TV show or a movie. I know when I'm going to start something and when it's going to be finished. At some point, I'll know when it's coming out. Music is a different beast. We deal in a space creatively with collaboration and when you deal in that sense, you're dealing with other people's time. It's not necessarily just me.

Yeah, I want to drop an EP, but there's certain avenues you have to go down to get the music cleared, you know. To carve out the time that it needs for—if you're a person like me, you've obligated a lot of your time to a different sector of art. To kind of pull myself away from that is a task that is a little more challenging for a person just doing music. And again, these are the sorts of things you call "champagne problems." I'm in a position where I'm doing what I love but I love to do so many things.

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When you love to do so many things, what ends up happening is you lend yourself to these things. And then you're at the mercy of how these things come and the outcome of these things. It's sort of a double-edged sword, although it can be a very gratifying experience, on the flip side, it can be the total opposite of that. Not in the way where it's depending on how people perceive what you're doing, but more so the preparation and also the goals you have set for yourself in these respective fields if that makes sense.

So, if I plan for myself to be a certain type of actor, and do certain types of movies, once you set these intentions and goals, if they don't get met, ultimately, it's not about the public demand of how people feel about that. It's about the pressure that you put on yourself. For me, I just have such high hopes for everything I do. Music is no different in that aspect. So, yes, to give you a short answer, for sure. I want to put an EP out next year. But ultimately, I'm also not in a space where I feel rushed. Music is one of those things that continue to change like, every year. Even R&B.

My approach of trying to feed the artistic part of me when it comes to music has a lot to do with releasing music but also a lot to do with just being connected to it, which is why I dropped covers all the time. I'm continually making music, not releasing a lot of music. I did just release a record a couple of months ago. And I want to release one more before the year is out. It's just one of those things where you kind of have to just go and I'm used to being in a place where things are a little more structured. People just want to hear from you. They don't care how or when. They just want to hear. I always want things to be the right way.

It's one of those things that I fight against about releasing music. I want to put music out, but again, I have—when it comes to music, it comes from a place where it's from me. I've put records out that other people have written before. I put my own record out, my biggest song is over 2.5 million streams, "Keep Me in Mind." It's a record that I wrote myself and that's one of those things where you're continually trying to just stay honest and genuine in what you have to say.

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That's the place I'm coming from, so it's not like I have a label. I'm independent because of the way I move. Because I'm so sporadic. I can't really nail myself down to say, "Okay, here goes six months I'm going to dedicate to music." 'Cause ultimately, I have so many other passions that within that six months, I might be filming for three months and figuring out how to be a part of fashion for one of those months. So, it gets a little bit spread thin.

Hopefully, next year, what I intend to do is set certain goals for myself as it relates to music, the same that I did for acting, and being intentional and not negotiating with myself about those things I'm not here to negotiate with myself about what I plan to do. The fight against your own insecurities, which seems like a different person sometimes. So, it's an uphill battle, but when you reach a certain place and do what you intend to do, regardless of the outcome of how people receive it, it means a lot.

That's where I'm at with music. Next year, I want to drop an EP. Maybe seven, eight songs. I have an EP that's finished right now. But again, I want to be in a space to drop music more and more and not have to be so meticulous about when and how much time I want to put behind it. Just want to give it to people and just let it live.

Ryan Destiny said something similar when we spoke with her for this series. Let's switch gears to the holidays. Do you have any traditions that you celebrate with your loved ones during this time?

It's interesting how the transition of the way holidays used to mean to me. And I think even when you get older, when your life becomes about what you do and chasing a dream, holidays start to become less about the opportunity to be around people and more about, "Damn, I'm gonna have to do certain things this season."

When you become the person in your family that is successful, especially economically in Black households, I'm Cuban and Black but I grew up with just my mom. So, our traditions changed once I became an adult. As you can see, you can kind of look over the landscape of these families and there's one, maybe two people who kind of lead a different path and become successful in a way. And ultimately, these people become who the family looks toward to do about everything. And I think you kind of just inherit that responsibility.

Before, it's like, I can't wait for Christmas. I used to be the person getting the presents, but it's really fulfilling when you can follow through and be that person to get the stuff that your sibling wants or child wants. That's the part of it I'm in now where my tradition is more so like, how can I make this special for other people? Because to me, I live a life that is so freeing every day, and so, not a lot of people have that opportunity.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MAY 14: Rome Flynn attends The Prime Experience: "With Love" on May 14, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Amazon Studios)
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Even people in your own family don't get to live in their own purpose or truth. A lot of them have to do jobs they don't really like. They look forward to these times of the year. Obviously, being off from work, but, you know, it also can be stressful because people depend on them to make these days special. And for me—I had this conversation about birthdays, because my birthday just passed, and someone was asking what I was going to do for my birthday. I really didn't have a plan. They were like, "Wow, you really have to celebrate these things."

To me, my birthday could be today or it could be three months ago. I live my life every day like I'm celebrating it. 'Cause I'm just so fortunate to be where I'm at. You know, on my birthday, I do reflect on where I've come from and where I want to be and take a moment to appreciate that. I think, to me, it becomes more about people celebrating you and you doing sh*t in order to celebrate yourself with them. As opposed to me, I like to kind of do my own thing. So, Christmas is one of those things where I'm looking forward to being with my family and doing what I can to make it special for my nephews and everybody else in my family.

I'm ready for the year to start, honestly. That's where I'm at. I want to get back to doing what I love and I'm anxious about trying to see what the universe and God has for me next year. It's just always a journey. It's always a surprise. So, I'm looking forward to that.

It's all about the journey. Speaking of, this is my final question. I've asked it to you twice before for our previous interviews [laughs]. What is something about you as a person that doesn't always translate to the world because of the veil of celebrity? People think they know you based on what they can see or interpret, but that's not truth. What is something about the heart of Rome Flynn that you wish people could see if the veil of celebrity was removed?

Yeah...I don't remember what I said last time [laughs]. You know, I think, the thing about me that people probably misunderstand—I'm not as vain as people may think [laughs]. I think a lot of people think that I've got to this position because of how I look. That doesn't bother me. I understand the ideology behind that because from the beginning of time, that has been the door opener for people.

But, the thing that I don't care too much about is people not giving me, or even people like me, the opportunity to grow. To dip your hands into other things. Like I said, it's kind of a double-edged sword. I've spent my career doing work that I'm proud of. So, when you transition to do other things, it feels a bit disingenuous to people 'cause they just don't know you, when you do something different.

And so, I think my ability to play the game—when I say play the game, I always tell this to other actors, like, you gotta play the game, or the game plays you. The game is the industry. The game is all of the little sh*t you have to do in order to carve out your spot. When I say "the game," I'm talking about People of Color because my white counterparts don't. They get to live seamlessly through art. They transcend art. There are so many actors I know, they have bands, music, they release their own this, their own that. They don't receive pushback, but when it comes to actors or artists that are predominately successful in a certain art field that are Black, it gives a certain pushback from people...which is a deeper conversation [laughs].

To me, a lot of people kind of misjudge my purpose, and I think they take the perception of my mysterious, laid-back energy to be as if I don't care about certain things. I'm very passionate and I have a deep, burning desire for love. Deep burning for what I do. And that sh*t will reveal itself in time, as it does when you're great at something and finding your way. Those paths will open up. So, I'm not too much worried about it but yeah, those are things that I'm very much interested in.

And I'm also interested in keeping a fine line between my private life and the life I allow people to see. I think there are two different ways to go about this business—business meaning like, celebrity status, whatever you want to say. There's people who live their life through Instagram and social media and they need to be as transparent as possible for people to feel them.

For me, mine is more of a funneled perspective, a very small window of who I am, which is what works for me. Which is interesting, I remember when I saw in the beginning when Will Smith started to put out YouTube videos and social media videos, just really pulling the curtain back on who he was for people. Which was a huge thing for someone in his position because, as an actor, it's not about who you are as a person. Actually, it's less about that.

Some of the most successful actors don't even have a social media imprint. 'Cause we don't want to know who you are. We want to forget who you are while we're watching what you do. So, it's a fine line. And music is the complete opposite, which is the interesting thing. Music is a place of genuineness, and transparency is what sells in music. People feel what you're saying and believe what you're talking about. It's a fine line to walk to try to do both of those things, trying to bridge that gap when I try to put music out and say, "Hey, this is something I really want to say. This is who I am." And trying to have people believe that and see that. It's a battle, it's an uphill thing. I love it, though. I'm just thankful I'm able to do these things. Honestly.

About The Author
Erika Marie is a seasoned journalist, editor, and ghostwriter who works predominantly in the fields of music, spirituality, mental health advocacy, and social activism. The Los Angeles editor, storyteller, and activist has been involved in the behind-the-scenes workings of the entertainment industry for nearly two decades. E.M. attempts to write stories that are compelling while remaining informative and respectful. She's an advocate of lyrical witticism & the power of the pen. Favorites: Motown, New Jack Swing, '90s R&B, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, & Punk; Funk, Soul, Harlem Renaissance Jazz greats, and artists who innovate, not simply replicate.