The road to success takes many unexpected turns.
For Tyler Lepley, star of the OWN soap opera “The Haves and the Have Nots,” one of those turns included auditioning for a man in drag.
If you haven’t guessed, the man in drag was Tyler Perry, creator of “The Haves and the Have Nots.”
“He was in the middle of shooting ‘A Madea Christmas,’ and the thing about him is, as funny as it was and as much as you get a chuckle out of it, it was the first time I really understood what type of drive he had and what type of diligence he had,” Lepley says. “He is such a hard worker that he was shooting a movie while he was casting his next show.”
That show, now in its second season, is the most popular scripted series on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN. Only Winfrey’s interview with Bobbi Kristina Brown has scored higher ratings for the network.
The series follows the drama connected to an opulent Savannah, Georgia, mansion. Lepley plays the beefy Benny, a have not.
“One of the reasons why the show is doing so well is ... the dichotomy of the way these two different cultures interact with each other,” Lepley, 27, says. “If we’re have nots in the tangible world, through hard work and faith and staying diligent every single day, you can overcome those circumstances.
“I’m living proof of that. I come from a have not world, and working hard got me here and working hard will get me to the next level.”
His big break
Lepley, a running back for Kutztown University, was discovered while working at a gym in Santa Monica after he had moved to California.
“I was approached while I was hanging out at the gym,” Lepley, 27, says. “I had nothing else going on at the time. ... I went to an audition and I had never acted or thought about doing anything like that. It was an interesting process.”
See the aforementioned “Madea’’ callback.
“Whether outside the show or outside this field of work, what I’m going to try to do in life is just maximize all the potential I have, because the thing about it is,” he says, “potential doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do something about it.”
“The Haves and the Have Nots”airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on OWN.