The Night Shift actors JR Lemon (Nurse Kenny Fournette) and Robert Bailey Jr. (Dr. Paul Cummings) have had different paths in their acting career. For Lemon, a former running back for the Stanford Cardinal, football was his biggest dream and Bailey Jr.’s acting inclinations grew at an early age. During our interviews with Lemon and Bailey Jr., they discussed how they embarked on their respective acting careers.
Though playing running back in the NFL wasn’t in the cards, acting was more than just a fall back option for Lemon (there’s a reason why people says the NFL is short for “not for long”):
“It was definitely a transition. I had zero idea that I would go into acting later on. There were certain things about football, as that window started to close that I saw in acting as very similar. You pour your soul into football. It’s not a clock in, clock out, 9 to 5 job.
I wake up, this is what I’m thinking about, everything I do is moving me closer to it or pushing me away with every one of (my) moves. My approach to acting is very similar. I live, breathe – Rob knows, I’m crazy. But it’s just my way of life – I don’t know if I could have a 9 to 5 type deal. I need something that I care intensely about, that I want to get better at, that means something to me (for) me to get better it. It was a natural transition with (acting). The camaraderie, practicing something for game day – the preparation aspect.
I was an engineer in college -studied industrial engineering in college – just the academic part of researching and finding something new. Every different character’s perspective that you’re building is a book report. It’s your opportunity to go in and find something else out. So that’s intellectually stimulating for me also. So there was just a number of aspects about (acting) that were extremely attractive.” – JR Lemon
Though Robert Bailey Jr.’s first credit goes back all the way to 1996 with a Nash Bridges episode, he’s a veteran who’s always open to learning. Case in point, he appreciates Lemon’s thorough prep work as an actor, a practice Lemon obviously learned from his days at Stanford.
“I’ve been acting since I was six years old. My mom came out with me from Minnesota and she was always extremely supportive of me but never pushy. It was never her thing she just wanted to support what I wanted to do and I’ve wanted to do this since I was very little. This was always my dream and it’s been amazing to grow up and have an amazing experience.
I’ve had a lot of friends who have had not so great experiences with (acting) and have gone to darker places with it. I’ve always had a really incredible experience and have been able to do some things some people don’t get to do their entire lives. It’s hard to think the person I would be without the life I’ve had in this industry because I’ve been introduced to so many different things and different types of people. It’s influenced who I’ve become as a man. This was my dream and I’m doing it. It’s incredible.” – Robert Bailey Jr.
Hearing a ton of insightful comments on acting and following one’s dreams is great, but maybe a little levity and humor is in order. So what happens when you put The Night Shift actors together off the set?? They were actually roommates for a year, and while Bailey Jr. seems like a sneakers propped up on a coffee table kind of guy, Lemon is much more tidy around the house.
Click on the media bar to hear a hilarious story about their living together, an incident which involved a hard day’s work, watermelon, trail mix, and the use of a candle wick as a metaphor!! It’s over two minutes long but worth it:
— The Night Shift (@NBCNightShift) August 29, 2016