Story by Nakisha Dicks, '07 and courtesy of the Augusta Chronicle
Courtney Gray began the school year at Paine College under the radar.
His low profile didn't last long, however, because those who recognized him quickly spread the word that an actor was in their midst, he said.
"I'm known as the boy on Meet the Browns," the 19-year-old said with a laugh. "They'll ask me, 'You're the boy on Meet the Browns?' and I just nod and say 'Yeah, that's me.' Then they'll go tell others, 'Hey, that's the boy on Meet the Browns!' "
Mr. Gray has appeared in two episodes of the TBS sitcom this season. The freshman mass communications major from Atlanta plays Jamal, a character who loves his best friend, Brianna, but tends to keep his emotions to himself. A little more than a month ago, he taped a third episode that will air later in the season.
It has always been his goal to be in a Tyler Perry production, he said of the playwright, screenwriter, producer, director, actor and author.
"I like that he always has a message in his works," he said. "In every single TV episode, every single play, every single movie, he has a message for the people -- something to make you think, something to make you a better person."
He found that he had the role while he was bowling with friends in Stockbridge, Ga.
"The first thing I did when they called me was drop down to my knees and thank God, because I'd been waiting for something like this to happen for forever," he said. "The first thing that popped in my head was, 'Thank you, Jesus, for blessing me with this part.' "
There were struggles before he got his dream job, but his faith kept him determined, he said.
"A couple of times I almost gave up on acting because I had auditions here and there, but nothing was happening," he said. "I was like 'OK, I've auditioned here, auditioned here and auditioned here, but when am I going to get a part?'
''But every time I've almost given up on it, God has redirected me and smacked something right in my face. Whenever I wanted to walk away, I would walk right back into acting. It's definitely been a journey."
He goes to tapings only when he's called, so he hasn't had to make any major adjustments as a student.
"When I'm called, I'll just go home for a few days, do what I have to do and come back," he said.
"It's whatever God wants me to do. I can say I want to do this or that, but it's whatever God has planned for me," he said. "All I can do is stay prepared and continue to work on the gift God has given me."
Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.