Rockmond Dunbar and the city of Berkeley mean more than just his hometown these days. The name also belongs to his biggest achievement with wife, actress Maya Dunbar. No it is not some new television venture but the excitement both felt with the arrival of their beautiful baby girl, Berkeley Seon, born December 6, 2013.
The mentalist star and his leading lady spoke with us about their respective careers, true love and the creation of family in this Valentine’s Day interview. A conversation of a man’s admiration for a woman that makes him better, and her comfort for a man that provides gentle strength.
All your TV characters have been original in portrayal. There is Kenny Chadway Soul Food, Benjamin Miles C-Note, Franklin Prison Break and Pookie The Game. What role did you most identify with and why?
Kenny. He was a solid dude. Good father, good husband, and a good man. Perfectly flawed. Kenny reminded me of the old school men that our fathers and grandfathers were. Strong. Hard working. Loving. I recently became a father, so I relate to that character even more today.
You joined the cast of FX’s hit show Sons of Anarchy in 2011, playing the role of the charming Sheriff Eli Roosevelt. How did you prepare for the role?
The work is in the writing. When that is there, everything else is easy. It is a well written show, which makes my job as an actor easier. I let Eli just ‘be.’ There was so much going on around him, that I felt he should represent some stability amongst the chaos. Even when his life got entangled in the drama, he kept it together, while maintaining some integrity. On the flip side, he also was not one to be messed with.
You currently can be seen on the CBS crime drama The Mentalist as FBI agent Dennis Abbott. What attracted you to the character? What can be expected from upcoming episodes without giving away any spoilers?
This is a man, who’s at the top of his field. Let’s be real, only a select few get that far in the FBI. I liked that. He is smart with a quick wit. I think there is a bit of street underneath there. It has played a huge role in who he is and what he is. Abbott’s a guy who’s gotten his hands dirty in the past, and will again in the future. Fans can expect a shift in the show format, since there are major characters coming and going.
You previously directed the film Pastor Brown. Will there be any directorial projects in the future? What’s next for you?
We’re working on it. Directing has been a passion of mine for a long time. Pastor Brown was a labor of love project, with everyone involved. We are moving scripts, on the producing side, so there is always the possibility and plan, to maximize all of our talents and keep the money at home, so to speak. Best way to do that is, whatever each of us has as strengths; we utilize them to the fullest in the deal. Me directing, is definitely one of those strengths.
Be Me…Husband, Father
Two words– Love and Maya. How has both the emotion and person created your happiness?
I think Maya’s love, has simply allowed me to allow myself, to be happy. It is always easy, to blame our unhappiness on circumstances, people, things…but in the end, isn’t really just about us, as an individual, taking accountability for our emotions and life? When I met Maya, and as we have grown together, first as friends, then as husband and wife, and now as parents; I have had the blessing of being able to just BE. Be me. Flaws and all. All the ugliness and beauty that comes with sharing yourself, unfiltered, with someone else. And she has not only accepted me whole heartedly, as I have her, but she has taught me how to accept myself and all of the perfect imperfections. For that, and for our daughter, I am forever in her debt. My love for our love is endless.
We can only imagine the joy that fills your heart as a new dad. Complete this thought on fatherhood, Days spent with my daughter…
Are the Universe’s confirmation, that somewhere, at some point, along this journey my soul has embarked on, that I have done something right and am worthy of some good.
Will future acting roles be reflective of you now being a mom?
I have always chosen roles, based off of where I am, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Me being a mother is such a monumental change, I think it would be impossible for it not to have an effect. I’m always evolving, as a woman, artist, spiritual being, and now as a wife and mother. All of my experiences are the very things that allow me to portray characters in my work. I am different today, then I was at 20 years-old. Being married. Expanding my spirituality. All of these transitions in my life have an effect. I will say this much, being a mother has unlocked a level of fearlessness I’ve never had. Because, finally, for the first time, acting and ‘stuff’, are not my end all, be all. My family is.
Love and Growth:
Marriage and Rockmond. Share what the union and the man means to you?
Rock is just that. My Rock. A best friend, lover, partner, critic…He is the mirror that shows me who I am. Where I need to grow. How far I have come and all that I have to be grateful for. I see my evolution as a woman, partner, wife and now mother, in him. In our bond, our home and the respect we have for one another. I am wealthier than I ever imagined. The real wealth, the wealth of soul, and it’s because of him and our daughter.
A relationship between a mother and daughter comes with plenty of girl-time bonding. Share this future thought on motherhood; As a woman and as my daughter grows, I want her to know…
Endless faith. Faith in the Universe. Herself. The world. Humanity. As long as our daughter has that…as long as the trials and tribulations of life, don’t ever get her to the point of losing her faith…then there is always hope and light.
Thank you, please and I love you…Unity
Valentine’s Day is where most of us show “extra” special attention in our relationships. How do you both incorporate the sentiment of the day, throughout the year, in your union?
Always say thank you, please and I love you, every single day. Seems simple and it is. But it is surprising, how over time, it is easy to forget these simple acknowledgments, and start taking it all for granted.
Photo Credit: Top photo; individual- Dave Ellis and Dimitri Crowder of Dave Ellis Studios; Bottom – William Richards