Not long ago, he made his name as a Glee cast member; since last November, you can find him on his first sitcom leading role on TBS’ Ground Floor. James Earl also opened for Rick Ross ‘ Mastermind tour under his pseudonym, Real Lyfe. Pretty amazing achievements for a young man who recently said, “My mother never really paid for acting classes!”
You were on Glee for a while. Did you ever deal with issues portrayed on the show when you were younger?
Yeah, when I was a kid I was on both sides of the spectrum. I was bullied, and I bullied. I did both. Both sides of it. I experienced both sides, and they both suck.
Now, you will be appearing on Ground Floor. Do you play an everyman personality type, and did you look to any real life people you grew up around as inspiration for the character?
I got inspiration from my boy, A Money. His real name is Aaron, but I call him A Money. Derrick is also a really over exaggerated version of myself. So I just kind of play myself, but over the top, and a little bit of my boy, A Money, mixed in there.
Of course, the most exciting part of your life is what is off screen as your alter ego, Real Lyfe. As an artist, is this who you really are or is it you acting as the person you could never be in regular life?
Hmmm, I don’t know! When you do music, it’s always a different version of yourself, but I think that yeah, I just like having fun and having a good time. That’s pretty much what I make music about. That’s what it is.
You’ve toured with Rick Ross. Amazing! What is he like in, well, “real lyfe?”
Yup! I did the tour with Rick Ross. It was awesome. I got to DJ with my boys 1500 Or Nothin. We opened up for him and we did a whole East Coast tour. Rick Ross is a really cool, humble guy. He really holds a man back.
Were you afraid of criticism the first time someone like a friend or family member listened to your music? How did it go?
Nah, I never was afraid of criticism when I let somebody hear my music. One thing I learned was you’ve gotta always be confident at what you do, so if you’re gonna let somebody hear it you gotta be prepared for criticism if you get it. All criticism is constructive.
You probably grew up watching music videos on TV…before they were snatched off air. What is your earliest memory of a great rap video that made you go out and buy the album?
The greatest rap video memory that I have is the 2Pac and Dr. Dre video [“California Love”]. I think it was the most epic thing of its time. It was cool. 2Pac was hungry. He was in his prime. It was all great.
How do you intend on creating that same feeling in people as an artist yourself now, “I need to get that song?”
My music, like I said again, is just about having fun and enjoying life to the fullest. I think people just gotta tune in and just check it out. You can be the judge of it. Everybody having a good time loves our music. We’re working on building a brand right now. We just rebranded it. We go by the name of Space Team, and we’re gonna release a record pretty soon around summertime and a few videos as well. Be looking out for that.