If you’ve seen any of the HBO promos for Dwayne Johnson’s June 21-debuting “Ballers,” you know the half-hour dramedy about a retired pro football player looks like a high octane, chest thumping, head bumping, heart pumping, flash-with-cash testosterone fiesta.
Jazmyn Simon is the sole female star in the cast of the show, a position that could have quickly gone sour. However, the fact she starts laughing when asked about that lets us know right away that hers is not a tale of woe. “It was the best thing in the world,” insists the 5’5″ beauty, who plays the wife of 6’6″ Omar Benson Miller. “It was like a clinical study of the male habits of these guys. After awhile, they stopped treating me like a girl and just started treating me like a little sister. The ‘representative’ them leaves, and then the real them arrives, and I have to tell you, men are hilarious.”
Well, yes. Of course.
“On our show, half the guys are married and half are single, and when you get a group of handsome single guys in Miami, you get to see funny stuff. I got to see guys hitting on girls — that they would not normally allow me to see. It was amazing.”
Amazing as in pickup lines that make you roll your eyes?
“I rolled my eyes all the time, do you hear me? I rolled my eyes,” she declares. “All I’m doing is rolling my eyes with these guys.”
She also notes, “They took great care of me. Any time the cast and crew went out, they made sure I had a production assistant walking me to my car. I loved it. And not only was I a little sister, I was like a big sister. One guy, Donovan Carter, is younger than me and we got extremely close, we spoke a couple of times a day every single day, before and after production.”
And to hear her tell it, Johnson led the way in gentlemanly ways. “Any time I walked in the room, he’d stand up give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and then make sure I sat down before he sat down. His parents raised him right,” says Jazmyn. “He is just an exceptional person, by far one of the nicest people around. I’m laughing because it’s crazy how someone could be so handsome and so talented and such a big name and still remain so humble. He’s kind. He’s approachable.”
We will see Johnson as we haven’t seen him before, according to her. “If I drive down the street, I’m going to see, like, three different billboards for movies he has coming out right now,” says Jazmyn, speaking of the star who has “San Andreas” opening May 29, is among the stars of “Furious 7” (released last month, the blockbuster has a worldwide box office gross of $1,467,817,000 so far) and has several films in the works in addition to “Ballers,” which wrapped its first 10 episodes in Miami this past March.
“I can honestly say he’s an action star up until this point. He does a lot of muscle — ‘Hercules.’ On this show, Dwayne is acting his a— off. He is acting. It’s not Dwayne being a muscle man, it’s Dwayne being the actor, and he’s really so great.”
As for her own role — is she like a little or big sister on camera as well as off?
Jazmyn is quick to reply in the negative. “She’s definitely not sisterly. Julie is sexy and sassy and ambitious and funny, but not sisterly. She is a very ambitious woman who wants the best for her family. She is married to a retired football player, just navigating life after the game of football. When you’ve spent so much time navigating one thing, and then you have to open a new book, it’s chapter 1. It’s post-football. She really wears the pants in her family, which is a good strong character for a woman.”
It’s also a surprising character in this context.
“It’s such smart writing, because it’s true, you generally don’t see that in this context. If I say, ‘She’s married to a football player,’ you automatically thought of something. You thought of a tight skirt, high heels, an expensive purse and an expensive car and there’s nothing wrong with that. They have a lot of money and they know how to spend it. But you don’t really see strong, smart and professional. My character is a doctor, so not only is she sexy and funny and ambitious, but she is very smart and she has a career. So you’re going to see her and her husband figuring out life after football.”
“Ballers” was Jazmyn’s 200th audition — and what a show, what a part to land!
“It feels like a dream. It feels surreal,” she says of the series, which was created by Stephen Levinson (“Entourage”) and is executive produced by Johnson, Levinson, Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”), who also directs.
“I’m so grateful, I count my blessings every day.”