Sheldon Bailey is a former professional athlete turn actor born in Germany on a US Army base. He would spend his formative years bouncing between San Antonio and Fort Knox, before setting in Fayetteville, NC. At the age of eight, he begins to find his ability to entertain. He credits his time traveling the world at a young age as a tool that helped him adapted to a variety of different cultures.
Bailey found his passion for theater in the eighth grade while trying to balance his desire to pursue athletics in high school.During his senior year, he grew to be 6’6″ and attended boarding school with Amare Stoudemire and Jarret Jack were his mates, Jack was also his roommate. Bailey would begin his collegiate career as a student at Winthrop University and then decided to transfer to Florida International University following his sophomore year. He would go on to serve as the Black Student Union President. Bailey’s college experience also helped further honing his creative skill and love for the art of spoken word.
Upon finishing college, Sheldon Bailey played professional basketball in China, Taiwan, Ecuador, and domestically in the CBA and ABA Leagues. Bailey’s work with the ABA brought him to Los Angeles where he had the opportunity to audition for the film Semi-Pro starring Will Ferrell and André Benjamin. He decided to put his professional basketball aspiration on hold due to injuries and hectic traveling schedule that keep him on the road.
By 2013, Bailey had built him a very impressive resume that included acting credits and commercial appearances. Along as landing which now has been a position that has taken him all over the world as LeBron James body double. The position would give Sheldon the exposure need to land a role on season 4 of “Shameless” on the Showtime Network.”I knew I had turned the corner when I landed Shameless and followed it up with a major TV pilot, “Hand of God,” he says when reflecting on his acting career.
He has also had the opportunity to impersonate other NBA superstars Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and Shaq. Bailey has also been featured in NBA 2k15 as the ‘My Player’ in the storyline in the video game and again in the role in 2k18 as ATM. He has also published writer, known for his poetry.
The Hype Magazine recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sheldon Bailey about his upcoming project ‘Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town’ He also shares with us the current status of the relationship with the professional athletes that he served as body doubles.
Can you share with us what fans can expect from your upcoming project “Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town.” (IGTFAT)?
This project has a fantastic ensemble including Mackenzie Davis, Carrie Coon, and Lakeith Stanfield, to name a few. Mackenzie Davis, the star of the movie, is also featured in projects such as Blade Runner 2049 and The Martian. IGTFAT will be the first movie that she will be the lead actress. She is very talented. My role in the film is such that has really helped make the film an indy success. The film has been featured at numerous film festivals and has won critical acclaim. The turnout from the public has been high. My performance in the film allowed me to showcase a different side of myself as an actor. Anytime I get the chance to test my acting skills alongside other great actors and actresses like Mackenzie, it’s something I get excited to do, as a professional actor.
You are a published author and a poet. Where do you draw your inspiration from as a creator?
I find inspiration in nearly everything; so many different things motivate me. I started writing in college, during my freshmen and sophomore years. I began expressing myself on paper, and it grew into music. I am so inspired that I can look at a something as every day as a tree and find inspiration from it. It just depends on what how I am feeling at any given time. I recently created a piece on Paul Robeson who is an actor and entertainer, and he went on to obtain global success. This was an inspiring story for me to share.
You also had the opportunity to direct your short video ‘Wild Barbarian’ have you thought about partnering with one of the stream platforms and creating your content?
Yes, that is the next stage of my career. I want to grow my acting career. Through my experiences in the entertainment industry, I have learned that creating content is a way that I can control and maximize my visibility. In 2018, I will have my producer’s hat on. I will be focused on releasing more content that I have had a part in creating. All of the material that I have published in the past has garnered a positive reaction. I am working towards expanding that side of my industry experience by creating feature films and television productions. That is something that is on my radar, and part of the reason why I put ‘Wild Barbarian’ together, to showcase myself in a particular light.
Do you have any business interest outside of the entertainment industry that you want to pursue?
Most of my business interests are within the realm of the entertainment business, whether that be my role as an athlete, musician, producer or actor. I have a history in athletics, and I have a son that is a rising star in the world of youth basketball. We as a collective group will be growing the athletic side of our business and will then integrate it into the entertainment business. I am also very involved in philanthropy within my community, and this is not a business for me. I spend a lot of my time working with a nonprofit organization targeted at helping youth.
You have had the opportunity to impersonate a couple of athletes in the past. Who was a favorite athlete to impersonate and why?
For the past eight years, I have had the opportunity to be a body double for LeBron James. This role has taken me all over the country and across the world and it has put me in direct contact with some of the best directors and producers in the world. Even though I had a lot of fun playing Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard in the past, there is no comparison to the work I have gotten as LeBron James. Being his body double has done so much more for my career.
Has Lebron James reached out to you and what are some things that he has shared with you?
Lebron James has never reached out to me. As far as, my communication with him on set, we are cool, he always seems happy to see me. We have not had any conversations outside of our work on set.
You had the opportunity to be a body double for Kobe Bryant and built a great relationship with him. Have you and Kobe talked about working together and creating content?
I have not talked to Kobe in a couple of years. When we were in touch, at the time, I was not aware that he would be looking to get into the creative space. Right now, my collaborative partners and I are building our platform and getting everything together. I will be taking meetings with the many influential people in the industry I have been fortunate enough to be connected with when it comes to getting projects I have in the works, released to the public. At some point down the road, something might involve Kobe; we will have to wait and see.
How has the time you spent on military bases and traveling contributed to your success in the entertainment business?
My time on military bases has helped me adapt to a variety of different characters in the entertainment industry. That upbringing prepared me to deal with different cultures within the community. I am also able to bring my unique experiences to the roles I play when I have to audition. My parents, having been in the army, taught me discipline and the value of hard work.
A common phrase in this business is, the only way to make it is to network. How important is communicating with the people around you especially when you are trying to build something from the ground up?
Networking is crucial, but at the same time, I also like to have things build organically. I believe in having a certain amount of assertiveness but not necessarily forcing the issue. I have received criticism in the past for not putting myself out there more. In regards to not mingling more with celebrities, it is not necessarily a bad thing. At the end of the day, everything is all about timing. You have to be willing to put yourself out there to start gaining any momentum to get things done. I just prefer it to happen in a more natural way.
What are your thoughts on urban communities creating media outlets? Why do you think more people are not starting business ventures?
I do not know, and it is confusing to me. I do not understand why successful entertainers have not thought about creating platforms that allow them to control content and image. Also, it seems as though we do not help each other as much as we could, and that most everyone focuses on their ventures while neglecting to build up their peers. This business is very cliquish. People are unwilling to drift away from the group. I want to do my part to help develop a movement to help others. I am here to push content. Writers have commissioned me to help with their material. We will be doing what it takes to get our scripts into production.
I helped transition athletes like myself, guys that did not make it into the pros, but are talented individuals get booked for commercials and sports ads. I negotiated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of contracts for different individuals that would not know how to transition into the entertainment industry. On a smaller scale, I have done the same with children, with the end goal being to create a functional firm. Why haven’t more people with talent decided to help manage another talent? Your guess is as good as mine. A lot of people do not want to do favors. I have done favors for a long time. For me, it is now time to get the business side of things together, and we charge commissions. That is a great business, and that is the time people have to understand I am going to care more for you, but I am going to take a percentage just like anyone else. The only difference is that, when I am on someone’s team, that person will have someone that cares for them in their corner. People are more willing to go elsewhere and pay for service. They do not want me to charge because they know me, that is not how things work. We will still be brothers after, but we have to make sure the business is taken care of, and this will allow both sides to grow.
Can you share with us some of the ventures Ruthless on Nickelodeon Game Shakers will be getting into this season? Are there any other projects that you are currently working on for 2018?
Ruthless will be providing a lot of laughs for the Game Shakers audience. We have 20 more episodes to air this season. We are filming season 3 currently. We will be at The Kids Choice Awards on March 24. I hope the show will get nominated again for favorite television series and we can take home the award this year. As far as other projects I am involved with, I wrote, “Take Me To Church,” an incredible single I recorded with a really incredible young country artist, Kaylin Roberson. She and I will be touring hospitals and schools in 2018, meeting children and performing for them. I have so much additional content coming out later this year. Stay tuned!