If there is one thing people know about Shemar Moore, it’s that he is a beautiful man. From superfluous fan sites to his 130,542 twitter followers, “baby boy” knows the ladies love him and how to keep them hooked. In twitpics, the 42-year-old shows throw-back photos of himself as a child in pressed short-shorts, puffed afro, and an endearing pout, captioned: “Do I have to wear this mom?” and looking nearly-dorky in his high school yearbook headshot. He can afford the embarrassment. After starting a modeling career in New York, Moore got his big break in 1995, playing heartthrob Malcolm Winters on The Young and The Restless, and after 10 years left the soap circuit for the world of primetime. Now on the eighth season of Criminal Minds, as the muscular and cunning Derek Morgan, Moore has established himself as nothing short of a badass.
Inked with five tattoos—“I’m all about inking my body if it means something,” he said—his last tattoo is of the words “Carpe Diem” colored with the faces of Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama, and Malcolm X. With feature-film aspirations, Moore wants people to know he is more than a pretty face, and is launching a new website (personal poetry included) and clothing line, to show his fans the leading man behind the six-pack. On his way to the Peoples Choice Awards, he talked to BULLETT about the dark side of Criminal Minds, social media in Hollywood, and interior design.
How did your interest in acting develop?
For whatever reason, if it was because I didn’t grow up with my father or for whatever reason, I was really shy. I mean I was a fun little kid and once I knew you liked me, I was in it to win it sort of speak. When I got into high school I was a jock because I was really good at sports and that was one of the ways I made friends and was cool and all that stuff, because that’s what mattered when you were a kid. It wasn’t cool if you were a jock, the acting community of kids was kind of like the weirdos, but I just was fascinated. I would sneak into the theatre department and I would watch the kids do plays. I thought it was cool that they could put on wardrobe and wigs and things, and whether they were doing Shakespeare or Romeo and Juliet or whatever, I just thought it was cool that they were becoming something that they weren’t, they were becoming another person. So I kind of got bit, without knowing it, to be able to be somebody else.
You were on The Young and The Restless for many years. What are the differences between recurring on a soap opera and a police procedural?
On the soap, Malcolm Winters was pretty much me being me. Every character you play has some semblance of yourself. You may have a funny haircut or grow a beard or get fat or get skinny or talk a certain way, but it’s still you. As far as personality and choices, Malcolm is just very close to my personality, my sense of humor. But with Derek Morgan, he’s an FBI profiler. It’s really cool to be able to kick down doors and play the tough guy and be a boss and be in the world that Derek Morgan is in. But Shemar Moore has a lot more fun than Derek Morgan, because of the world Derek Morgan is immersed in.
What is it like working with such graphic material each week?
I never forget that I’m playing pretend. I know that it is all make believe. We tease the writers all the time, like – how do you come up with this stuff? You must need a shrink or be an alcoholic— what’s going on in your mind? Is your wife scared of you, is your husband scared of you, do you think like this? But it’s weird because we’ll be on the set, we have these actors that come in with this heinous makeup on, where their throats are slit and their private parts are cut off, their legs, their body has been dismembered. It’s sad that that type of stuff happens around the world, and it humbles the shit out of you. As far as acting and emoting, you’ve got to dig within yourself and find the truth, so that the weight of what’s going on really comes out, because if you don’t believe yourself then the audience isn’t going to believe you.
Do you think the show’s cerebral aspect makes it unique from other criminal dramas?
At first when I got the show, I was like ok, you’ve got 102 cop shows, why do you need another one? But I say that Criminal Minds is like Silence of the Lambs meets Seven. The real stars of Criminal Minds is the “unsub.” The “unsub” is what we called the bad guy. You tune in to see just how twisted these people are, and then you feel compassion for the victims. People seem to like to look through the peep-hole of these dark worlds, but through that thick glass where they know they are protected. And I think that’s what Criminal Minds is. They get to see this crazy world because they are curious and they kind of have a fascination with these types of crimes, they want to learn what they need to learn, and then they want to turn it off and feel really safe in whatever environment they live in. So I think it is a thrill-ride for 42 minutes and then they can go back to their regularly scheduled life.
What has been your proudest moment as an actor?
The fact that I am still here and I am still growing and still climbing the ladder to success. And that a year ago I was fortunate enough and blessed enough to buy my mother her dream condo in Redondo Beach. Growing up, I was told we would never see a black president in our lifetime and here I am, 42 years old, and we not only have a black president, we have a biracial president, who I can relate to. We have a president of color, we have a president that wether he gets the job situation together or the healthcare situation together – I want him to be the best president he can be – but in my mind he has already made history and he has already changed the landscape of this country by being president. It’s not about him being black, it is about changing the views of this country, that we are beginning to see past color. We are getting closer to what my mother and father fought for in the late ’60s, and so many others, of just seeing people as equals. So I am proud to see a person of color, somebody bi-racial like me, becoming prominent.
I know that I am affecting people and I know that I reach people and I know that I am inspiring people just because I chased a dream of mine.
Tell me about your relationship with social media.
Six months ago I didn’t know anything about Facebook or Twitter, I was against it. But then I got a better sense of how it all works, and because I have the celebrity that I have and people are curious about me and what I’m doing, I didn’t just want to do a self-involved thing like, Hey, look at me, I’m great! I wanted to do something that people could kind of related to. The power of social media is crazy and I’m brand new, I’m a rookie, I don’t even know how to direct message. I’m still trying to figure it out.
Now when you go for jobs as an actor, they don’t ask you what your resume is. They ask you what your twitter following is, they ask you how many followers you have on Facebook. It’s kinda nuts. It’s like wait, I wanna work with Tom Cruise and the actor that’s gonna get the role is gonna have the biggest Facebook following? But there is some truth to that because Hollywood wants to know that you are going to put people in the seats.
What is something not many people know about you?
I’ve been interior decorating. I don’t talk about it a lot, I didn’t take any classes or anything. I just have a knack for picking colors and I kind of have a vision for composition and things like that. I’ve been living in my current home for about six years and I decorated and redecorated and remodeled it from head to toe so it is really, really my signature.