Aaron D. Spears was a senior running back for the Delaware State University football team in 1994, contemplating an NFL career, when he failed to turn in a paper for a speech class.
It was a move that would dramatically change his life.
His professor, Dr. Damus Kenjyatta, who was also a drama instructor, insisted that Spears make up the assignment by acting in a school play.
“I thought, ‘I don’t want to do a dumbass play. I just want to do a paper,’” says Spears. He wound up playing five small roles in the production “Every Man, Every Woman.” “I got bit by that same bug that everybody else gets bit by. If it weren’t for my professor, I wouldn’t be acting.”
Spears, who was in talks with the New York Jets, among other NFL teams, decided that the wear and tear on a professional football player’s body would not be worth it. So after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles and began an acting career.
He has appeared in nearly 100 movies and television shows, including his breakout performance as Money in “Blue Hill
Avenue.” Since 2009 he has played the role of Justin Barber, a publishing company exec, in the popular soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Spears has been nominated for four NAACP Image Awards for his work on the show.
This summer, Spears jetted between L.A., where he tapes “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and Atlanta, where he is shooting the second season of the BET drama “Being Mary Jane.”
The Washington, D.C., native returns to his alma mater every couple of years to coach theater students on life as a professional actor.
“I tell them what to expect, and I try to get them to believe in themselves,” Spears says. “But I am real. The truth is the industry is about ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you.”