Sergio Harford: The Relative Newcomer Ready for Lift Off
Sergio Harford is a Bermuda-born, South Carolina-raised actor/model whose face may be familiar to some as a result of his prolific commercial and print work. Now his name is associated with the likes of Academy Award winners Halle Berry and Steven Spielberg in CBS Television’s new futuristic summer thriller Extant – which premiers on July 9th. The self-described island boy, with a penchant for overdosing on too much television, plays astronaut (or so it can be assumed an astronaut) Marcus on the drama series opposite Halle Berry’s character Molly. The beginning plot of the series begins with Berry returning home from a year-long solo mission in outerspace. As she tries to reconnect with everyday life, the fusion of her experiences in outerspace with her readjustment to regular civilian life lead to quite a few mysterious events–an unexplained pregnancy. These events ultimately change human history as they know it and somehow Harford’s character may have something to do with it all.
Bleu recently caught up with Harford for a quick one-on-one; he details his experience working with Berry, the cast of Extant, and his transition from newbie in Hollywood to garnering his first recurring role.
Q: Congratulations on landing such a big recurring role. Take me back a lil bit—originally you are from the pink sands of Bermuda, but was raised in South Carolina. When did you actually move to LA, and what projects were you working on before landing this role?
A: Thank you! I moved to LA a semester after I graduated from high school. I was going to move to NYC to model part-time and take classes, but someone I worked with as a child model contacted me regarding an audition in LA for the movie Coach Carter. So of course I switched plans, came down to LA, was mad green, but felt like I just won the lottery because of this audition. I went to the audition in a button-up and slacks like it was a regular interview; everyone else came in basketball shorts…Again, I was green. I remember they were all like—“aww”. You could tell they knew it was my first audition. Needless to say, I did not get the role. But it made me fall in love with LA, and months later I moved here, took classes and was convinced to begin auditioning and building my [acting] experience that way. I started booking commercials and guest star roles which sustained me.
Q: So you play Marcus on Extant. How did this role come about?
A: It was pilot season, for which of course almost every actor in LA, NY, and around the world come here between Jan and May. I was a lil confused initially because this script sounded like a film. But it wasn’t. I thought it was awesome, you know with actors like Kerry Washington, etc. coming to TV. I’m also a bit of a sci-fi nerd and since Halle and Steven Spielberg were involved – I had to check it out. I remember the script at that point was very minimal; They didn’t really have the character “Marcus” developed. I walked into the audition–a room filled with guys from all ages–, did my thing and about two days later my manager said they wanted me back for a director’s session. After the session (which myself and a few other people came back for), I was driving in LA and my agent calls me and asks me if I want to play an Astronaut. I was like, “Sure. Where’s the audition at?” He’s like, “no you booked Marcus on Extant. Halle is a producer on the show and had a hand in picking me.” So it felt like the ultimate blessing.
Q: How would you describe what this show is all about?
A: It’s a mix, showcasing human potential with science and modern medicine. The word “extant” is the opposite of ”extinct”, and this show explores just how phenomena can happen that are outside the norm of understanding; why some people who are assumed to have passed away are coming back, etc. It’s thrilling, filled with mystery…All that good stuff.
Q: Many would probably fight to the death for the chance to work with the beautiful and talented Halle Berry. What’s that experience like?
A: I feel like it all happened so quick. The timeline between booking a pilot and the actual start of the show can take a while; but this seemed to be moving like boom-boom-boom. After I booked the role, I was called in for a table read right away on the CBS lot. Halle was one of the first persons I met walking onto the lot. She saw me, handed over her baby to an assistant and I just remember feeling nervous like, “Uh oh…what is she doing?” I had imagined a Producer would have introduced us. So she’s coming towards me and I’m talking to myself, “be calm – she’s just an actress (even though I know she’s an icon).” I extend my hand for a handshake and she gently swipes it away and goes in for a hug like we’ve been friends forever. She thanked me for doing this role, and I’m thinking I should be thanking you. Halle has the ability to disarm anyone and make them feel comfortable. My biggest surprise was that a producer who’s also balancing being a mom with children on set, took time to encourage me from the sidelines and throughout takes.
Q: That’s awesome. What about working with the legendary Steven Spielberg?
A: I actually haven’t gotten a chance to directly meet Spielberg. The days that I’m on set, he wasn’t, and then I’d see photos of him with others. I’m at home [thinking] “like really that would happen when I’m not there.” (Laughs) But the first thing that every director that I’ve worked with for each episode says is how much they looked forward to working with me and that Speilberg loved the scenes I shot in the teasers and trailers. So it’s almost like I’ve met him through everyone else, but that day is coming.
Q: Did you feel any pressure being the newbie or person with the least amount of experience on set?
A: For sure. I mean when I got the role, I definitely did my research, prepped–seeing all the names associated with the show and their accolades. But I also wasn’t alone as the newbie. The creator and writer also got this chance so I think CBS–whether naturally or organically–is all for giving newcomers a shot and I’m honored to be included. Of course every time I step on set there are some nerves, but Halle and the rest of the cast disarm me and make me feel comfortable.
Q: What should fans expect from the very first episode?
A: The pilot is titled “Re-Entry”, and I think everyone will find something in this that they can connect with or something that appeals to them. There’s a family structure there– a mom, husband, child, robots, astronauts. You basically get to sit in the comfort of your home and watch an hour of thrilling film quality production, acting and story. Even if I wasn’t a part of this, I’d be watching the show. If someone has something negative to say, I’d be the first to say they’re hating. (Laughs)
Q: What kind of wardrobe will we see your character wear?
A: Without giving too much away, you will see consistency with my wardrobe. There are a lot of past references, so you will get to see some cool astronaut suits. And I have pieces from Vince [Camuto] and John Varvatos. So your boy’s pretty fly.
Q: What advice would you give to the newbie that’s still waiting on their big recurring role break?
A: If you’re in it for the wrong reasons other than acting being your passion, you might want to question your intention of being an actor. I think you have to love the authenticity of submerging yourself into a role and becoming another character–everything else will fall into place. Also, prepare to invest in yourself and you’ll be alright.
Q: Ok, so hereis Bleu’s “Spitfire” section: I name something and you tell me the first thing that comes to mind?
Favorite actor: The versatile ones like Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. I also look up to Tyrese, Will Smith, and a few I’ve been compared to like Blair Underwood and Denzel Washington.
Guilty pleasure: Big Brother on CBS – I would shut down life itself to watch it, live tweet, the whole nine.
Song of the moment: Sam Smith’s album from start to finish.
Favorite accessory: Nice watch and shades. I’m also a big sneaker fan, I can literally wear a different pair for at least 8 months (that’s how many I have).
Bow ties or skinny ties: Bow ties at the moment, ever since I wore one at the premiere and got great feedback, it’s all about bow ties.
Favorite sneaker: PS Fliers and Raddi. I also have these Diesel boots I’ve had for seven years and every time I wear them I get a compliment.
Clothing store: Used to be Zara, but I’ve become an online shopper on Gilt. I also love Top man – the suit i wore at the premiere came from there.
Favorite phrase: “Have a seat.”
If you weren’t an actor you’d be: …A lawyer. I wanted to go to Howard University.
Tell me something that only someone from Bermuda would know about you: I come from a famous and well respected family. Every Bermudian would know the Thomases;, They own a chain of franchise pizza restaurants called 4 Star Pizza. My grandfather was also a famous boxer. My grandparents were like the Kim and Kanye of Bermuda. They have a dope house, amazing kids and though they both passed, their legacy lives on.
Words by Edric Robinson