Hollywood Hip-Hop & Heaven
On the Set with actor Dezeer D.

by Dan Ewald

Deezer D. isn’t a nurse, but he plays one on TV. In fact, he plays Nurse Malik McGrath on ER, NBC’s hit drama series. In real life, Deezer (a.k.a. Dearon Thompson) has faced everything from a drinking problem to breaking the ultimate taboo—being a working Christian in Hollywood. He also has released a rap album, Livin’ Up in a Down World (Prazem Records). Deezer gave us the lowdown on his faith and career.

On his early years: I grew up in South Central L.A. Most of my relatives were drinkers. It was dysfunctional. (So) when I started doing it, it wasn’t really a big deal. Everything was acceptable. After I moved out, I looked back on it and said, "My house was like The Jerry Springer Show."

On becoming a Christian: When I first started going to church, I thought, "This is boring. This is weak." I never looked for the positive. But then I started hooking up with some guys who were fun and crazy like me—but they loved the Lord. Now, I do everything that I used to do. Except I’m not out there chasing the females. I’m not out there drinking. I’m not looking to fill the void like I used to. I have a personal relationship with Jesus.

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On getting his big break: I auditioned for a small part on the show China Beach and got it. After that, I ran into the casting director, John Wells, again and said, "Hey, man. If you ever need an actor or something, call me. I don’t have to be the star as long as I work." A couple of years later, he comes up with this script called ER.

On being a light: All my friends on the show know where I stand. We’re all good friends here…. I go to Eriq (La Salle)’s house to watch the fights. I’ve hung out with George (Clooney) thousands of times…. People can probably tell you how I’ve changed in the last couple of years. I think, sometimes, people get born again and then come to work slapping people upside the head with the Bible, passing out tracts. But I think you have to be the tract.

On resisting temptation: You gotta practice turning away. I pray hard, and I surround myself with the right kind of people.

On rap music: My acting career has allowed me to do Christian rap music and speak to kids. When I started listening to rap, people weren’t killing people in songs. Then it got more sexual. I believe I have a responsibility to make some good, positive hip-hop that’s not cheesy.

On choosing roles in Hollywood: You’ve gotta have some integrity, man. There’s this one job that I read for. They wanted me. I said, "If you just change this and this, I’ll do it." The next week, somebody else was sitting in my chair. If I was not out there speaking to kids. I would have a couple of those parts. But God has your job for you. I know that He’s going to honor my turning down those roles.

Reprinted by Permission New Man.