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By. Angel Neal

Born in NYC to immigrant parents from Cuba and Puerto Rico, Anthony Bless was destined for greatness, proving no adversity could stand in his purpose. Bless plays the role of Malcolm Green – a ruthless, volatile, and damaged FBI agent on Tyler Perry's BET+ hit show "Ruthless". While Bless describes his character as invincible, his authentic persona proves there is also nothing he can't do. The talent spoke to Disrupshion Magazine about everything from faith, to purpose to walking him his purpose. More than just an actor, his singing and songwriting skills would prove to be impressive to producers at Tyler Perry Studios. He also wrote, created, and performs the “Ruthless (Original Themes Song). Get to know more behind the man because we will be seeing more of him in the near future.

On Self Love.

"I’d say a practice and instead of destination, I might say a journey, something that you’re continually arriving at. I think I like to use the word unbalanced a lot because in achieving balance, you kind of go through life. And in martial arts, I was taught, unbalanced is a great place to be because you’re constantly weaving and learning balance and you’re just flowing, kind of like a wave.


What prompted your interest and subsequently your foray into the entertainment industry?

I think a lot of my personality traits definitely led me into this field. I think sports had a lot to do with it. In my sport groups, I always wanted to take on leadership roles. I didn’t mind the pressure or the spotlight, it kind of was like a way for me to overcome something. Today I think that a lot of those attributes show up in my entertainment side. Whereas like when I’m on stage, or the mic in my hands, or whether it’s time to shoot a scene and do my best work in that moment, or an audition, or whatever the case may be. That kind of pressure makes me thrive, it’s motivating. It allows me to tap into my faith. It’s reassuring when things just kind of go better than you expected on a regular basis because of belief itself, and preparation and all the things that you do to lean into it. I used to love writing poetry when I was a kid, and I still do. My love for poetry definitely led me into writing music. Growing up in New York City getting influenced by the Biggies, the Jay Z’s, Nas and Tupac, like all the greats that had something to say, had a clear purpose. These talents were at a really high level of their craft. I mean, it was impossible for me not to just get sucked into that. I remember having my first Mathematics CD, and like man, I wanted to be Method Man. I was ready to find how to get some gold in my mouth. Put a little extra bass in my voice. I was walking home from school rapping M-E-T-H-O-D MAN. I thought I was Method Man.

Music is technically your first love? It provided the segue into acting. Your first acting experience was in theater and actually utilizing Spanish? How has that transitioned you into your passion today?

I think that theater experience did a lot for me because I was just getting into acting. I mention this a lot with my friends, and with my love and when I’m talking about training. If I’m training for a 40 yard sprint, my training will probably look like the upward the uphill run of that 2040 yard sprint. So the regular sprint feels easy. Same thing with martial arts. When I’m training in my in my martial arts, I put weights on me I have hand weights in my hands I put plyometric shoes on I give myself every level of difficulty that I can to make the battle hard on myself so that when I actually go through it feels easier. Similarly, in that regard, I just try to make it more difficult on myself. So with acting, I was much more well versed in English than I was in Spanish. So what I did was I joined a theater conservatory. I really liked the director. I liked the purpose and the alignment of our goals and our vision and the reverence and the honor in that theater, and the fact that the performances were mainly in Spanish. So, I was like oh shit, so I’m going to be doing something that is new for me. In English I could always just use my words to let things continue to propel forward but with Spanish I didn’t have that at my disposal. Now your body has to behave, you have to create physically so that pushed me into being better. I think it shows up now as I’m a very physical actor, a very behavioral actor. I had a great coach, that kind of a challenge made it easier. Because if I can do it in Spanish, something that’s new to me, then when I’m performing in English, which is the language I dominate more, it was just that much easier. Same as training, same as all the other things.

Do you remember your first cinema memory of a show that resonated with you that had that kind of crossover of Spanish and English?

I know that’s happening a lot more now today with the Latino American population, dollar signs, viewership, visibility, product placement, and whatnot. Don’t know if I can remember the first, but I do remember watching New York Undercover, but there would be like maybe two words in Spanish, and every five episodes they’d show that the guy was Puerto Rican. So I don’t know if I recall the crossover visibly on TV growing up. When I first got into the industry, I kept my hair long, because at that time, if you were Latino actor, your role: you were selling drugs. That’s all you were doing. You were a drug dealer, or you were the drug dealers right hand, man. But the point is you were dressed in a black buttoned down and you had long hair. So I had to keep my hair long to be able to fit for what Hollywood was putting me fit for the time.

So let’s talk “Ruthless” new season. You play agent, Malcolm Green, what can we expect from these new episodes?

The danger just keeps on increasing the volatility on everybody’s relationship within themselves and with the people around them. Their dynamics just continues to get more volatile, like a lot of deception and the police force interrogating is the catalyst for all the problems that start arriving. And it’s at a point where it’s kind of beautifully chaotic and out of control, but still within a mad order of things. And what’s beautiful, is, there’s a lot of doubt happening within each character or the overcoming of dealing with that doubt. And to see how each character is facing that and how that applies to the people in their world and their dynamic. And then it applies to the whole world of Ruthless, it’s really creating a change and it’s making. I remember printing out a picture for myself, whereas it was just like a lightning sky and there was a lot of electricity in the sky. That’s what it feels like. For me if I were to describe the texture, the nature of what the compound atmosphere feels like, it feels like lightning. It feels like static. Like if you would have reached out and just put your hands in the sky. It’s like things are pinching electrocuting they’re raising. It’s a dangerous place to be in, you know, people either fighting for their position or fighting for their lives, like Malcolm is. He finally got a breath of fresh air of getting out of that cooler, like, there’s nothing that he won’t do. You know when you put an animal against the wall and have to give it only the ability to defend itself. You’re gonna see the highest level of defense. And I think that’s where he’s at right now. There is no, he’s lost his mind and several aspects. He’s also like, held on to the tiniest glimmer of hope. And now this is the point that he’s had the most hope in a while. So we’ll see how that activates him and his choices moving forward now that he’s free. And he’s got a gun in his hands. I mean, watch out.

I feel like with Malcolm there’s so many layers to him, and so much more depth that we haven’t even seen from him. So from the outside looking in, why should viewers be Team Malcolm?

One of my favorite things as an artist as an actor, in my craft is to create levels of subtext, so that a lot of things are operating underneath what’s actually happening. I hope and I think that the viewers are seeing Malcolm with all these levels, the kind of adaptability and shape shifting that he’s had to bring out within himself to deal with everybody that’s persecuting him, everybody that’s torturing him with the different personalities on the compound and how he could possibly make his way out how he deals with rules. How he deals with Dikhan or the Highest and River you see, he shape shifts, he completely in the method and effort of survival becomes whatever he thinks would serve him in that situation. And that’s something I worked really hard on is figuring out it’s kind of like a really good businessman, you figure out what the other person needs, how you could add value, so that you’re not just asking for something. Malcolm is in that sense, except for his survival. You see when he deals with River when he deals with Dikhan, like those are different personalities that want and need different things, that receive things differently. And so that shape shifting is happening where he’s trying to find a way into them, so he can find a way out of his imprisonment out of his torture out of his insanity. I’m happy those layers are really showing up. Because that makes me proud. As an artist, I work very passionately hard on developing this character to its fullness. And I think you can see it in his behavior. I’m gonna give a little secret as to some of the things that were going on behind the scenes for me. In my binder, you’ll see pictures of venom. I make references to Hulk and Wolverine, which for me, those are metaphoric relationships to what his body’s feeling in regards to like the cocaine, the freezing the torture, the starvation, like the moodiness, the even like a lot of the snake, like Dikhan is the compound snake. So for Malcolm I created him to be the FBI snake, when he’s facing Dikhan, because it has to be snake on snake they have to meet at the same level. And then from the snake, you get this the behavioral shivers that are coming from the freezing and also like, give you a little some for the fans. And for the viewers watch when Malcolm leans over to his left shoulder. Pay attention to if he’s hearing something, if there’s some demon over here that might be communicating something that is then there because he’s lost logic. You can’t be drugged, tortured, and starved, frozen, kidnapped, lose freedom, and maintain complete sanity. And this is a guy that was an ex Marine, and an FBI agent that already was coming with his own demons. All of these circumstances have allowed me to bring logic and step outside of the world of logic into a place of artistic survival, which has been really fun and really captivating for me. And I love that Tyler Perry has given me the opportunity for me to create this arc in what’s happening to him. You know, he’s not a suit and tie Malcolm from the first season. He’s not down to cover leather jacket, Malcolm. That’s like trying to be the hero now. Now he’s just fighting for survival. But all of that is still residing within him.

The brilliance of Tyler Perry’s artistry is that he meets people where they are. So he gives you a platform to illuminate the script in your own way. So has your passion for the craft changed since you’ve been brought under his expertise.

Thank you to Tyler Perry for allowing us this platform. He definitely has taken the boundaries off on this one. This is kind of his passion project. It definitely goes a lot more left field than the other shows that he has, by far, totally on its own. I’m honoring this opportunity that he’s given me the difference also in the work pace. Whereas first season I remember being like, oh shit. And the prep being so nuts because like, you know, you’re on a regular TV show, you’re doing seven pages in one day. Cool. When I’m on a show like that. When I’m in my trailer on my downtime, I’m writing music, I’m taking care of business emails, like I have space to do so much. When you’re working with him, you might have seven scenes to shoot and six wardrobe changes before lunchtime. So that workload and that pace, it was a beautiful challenge for me to take the season one experience and then learn how to work to the depths that I want to work at within the pace and the speed that we need to work out to deal with the volume of pages and the and the swiftness that he shoots at. So he gives us all the resources we need. We have readers and literally they’re so adaptable because sometimes your day could look like showing up hair and makeup asking you what you’re getting for breakfast, your inherent makeup by the time you get back your breakfast in your room, but then they need to do mic checks, you’re grabbing a bag or you’re getting miked up, then they check on you. As soon as you’re about to sit down, you have the wardrobe, wanting to fit you and this its off to the shuttle to do a quick blog rehearsal. Step out of that, go to the 10 change, get ready for the next shoot while he’s setting up or re shooting or shooting the next scene. Like it’s pom pom pom back to back. And sometimes a full day is like that, aside from your lunch break and for your lunch bag, you better be looking at your stuff while you’re eating because you have a scenes back to back. So it’s been a beautiful challenge. Working with him. It’s kind of like taking the limitless pill. Before that, I would have never thought that I could work to this depth at that capacity with our workload. And now I embrace it. It’s enticing, you kind of like crave it.

So I have to ask what inspired the creation of the theme song of “Ruthless”? How did that come about you being apart of that?

That’s actually one of my most proud accomplishments. I did a meditation I was visualizing, and I told myself, I’m going to write this theme song. And I started going through all my notes and creating bullet points, I wanted to make an abstract feeling of what the show is versus giving you all the information that’s happening in the show. And really, I was just so filled with gratitude. And I wanted to give that back as a gift. I didn’t know what was going to come of it. I knew that this is a talent that I had, I felt passionately inspired to write and create this. And then I went ahead and I just I started writing and I got to work, I got the recording, I didn’t even show it until I was done recording, mixing, mastering and all that. And they fell in love with it. I was talking with the music department. And we started like cutting up the opening credits and changing up a little bit of the format so that I could fit with time that we needed for the opening credits. And it was, it’s a dream come true. I still laugh and smile about it. Because to think of my first series regular to also my biggest song release at the same time. Like goes to show you man, Tyler Perry, the way he impacts people is in such a positively strong way. And if you believe in yourself, and if you’re ready, and you take action towards that. Things like this can happen.

So you often are vocal about your purpose to heal, uplifting, re-energize the people around you through your talent. So as an actor and a musician, you have to be ready to function with no sleep at time. So you spoke of martial arts and meditation, how has that been helping you focus on navigating both of these industries?

Completely. I know some people look at meditation, as like this weird out of body experience, people that don’t practice it. It seems like something real hippie or real foreign. I want to let people know meditation is as simple as sometimes taking a few deep breaths and just being present. If it wasn’t for meditation, and if it wasn’t for martial arts, I wouldn’t thrive, I wouldn’t work at the level that I can. The level of peace groundedness, belief, understanding the level of composure that I get from those two elements being in my life on a daily basis is a lot. I’ll give a quick example. My lover and I are planning a trip. I’ve got some special things in line for the end of the year involving us and that we want to do together and between all the things going on in regular life plus an audition that I just had to shoot right before jumping on with you. Having so much on your plate daily sometimes can be very aggravating, very triggering. Some people could take that negative emotion and let it carry on to their whole day and we’ve worked to a place where like man it’s such a deep bond standing and acceptance. And in our words, the law, she says, you know, taking the path of least resistance, she was handling some things today, she came back in such a peaceful nature and asked me how things were going. I told her about, you know, some of the things that will be really frustrating. Its therapeutic. I’m thankful for meditation, writing and journaling. I think, you know, putting the effort to be your best self, all of that contributes to that. And it allows for a more peaceful or more grounded experience, you know, whereas somebody else might take that experience and then the rest of the day is like, the anger of carrying that frustration, only harping on that when there’s so many things you could also be grateful for, you know, we’re not saying to ignore, like the negative things that happen, it’s just a matter of accepting it and having the consciousness to deal with it in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your happiness or your health.

With so many new musicals, being adapted to live actions and hitting the big screen, would that be something you’d be interested in?

When I look at Hamilton, when I look at those projects, like, of course. On my vision board, I have a Tony, Grammy and an Oscar as like milestone achievements that I want to reach towards. And yeah, that’s very much in alignment with something I’d like to pursue at some point in my career.

So you’ve been killing it in the TV industry as you set away and some more film opportunities. Are there any specific genres you want to be in? Anything on your bucket list?

I love dramas, I love suspense thrillers. I absolutely adore Guy Ritchie movies, I would love to work with him. I’ll tell you one of my biggest things on my bucket list is working with Marvel or DC. I’m a superhero nerd, I want to use these martial arts skills. Tap into my childish experienced that I had from being a little kid going to the comic book stores. I just saw Wakanda Forever. Whenever there’s a Marvel or DC project out, I’m there, more than likely, I’m wearing some superhero shirt. And I’m all in like, I love that. And I’d love to be able to use my martial arts skills and my acting attributes to bring that into a character that I can bring to life to work in that cinematic universe. So yes, definitely.

So for many to get where they want to be, they have to be comfortable in the now of who they are for you is self love, a practice a destination or something else in its entirety.

I’d say a practice instead of destination, I might say a journey, something that you’re continually arriving at. I think I like to use the word unbalanced a lot because in achieving balance, you kind of go through life. And in martial arts, I was taught, unbalanced is a great place to be because you’re constantly weaving and learning balance and you’re just flowing, kind of like a wave. Whereas off balance is not a great place to be and then being completely balanced. The only thing that you could get is unbalanced or off balance from that place. So yeah, unbalanced is what I would call it. And as far as self love, that’s got to be a daily practice. Something we say here at home all the time is we like to overflow into other people. And you can’t overflow from your cup if your cup isn’t full.

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