Mekhi Phifer: Bringing Masculinity Back Onscreen

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Masculinity. That’s the one main ingredient that actor Mekhi Phifer tries to bring to every role.  “I always try to bring a certain masculine presence to what I do. That is part of the dynamic.” He’s portrayed a number of manly characters on the big and small screens. Some of his memorable roles include Mitch in the film, Paid In Full, as Dr. Greg Pratt on NBC’s long-running medical drama ER and the co-starring role opposite Eminem in the feature film 8 Mile.

“I grew up in a rough environment,” says Phifer. “You want to be strong and have your presence felt out there. That attitude reflects how people see you.” And ever since he landed his first role, the starring role in the Spike Lee movie Clockers at an open casting call, people have seen him as the charismatic masculine presence.

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When he first got to L.A., where Phifer now lives, he mostly trained his upper body. “Now I have a much more complete workout,” he says. Phifer actually has two trainers: one for boxing and one for weights. “Once or twice a week, I try to do some kind of boxing,” he says. “I’m hitting the bags and jumping rope—all that stuff.”

“I used to go to 24 Hour Fitness, but that place is like going to the club,” he says. “Chicks are in there with makeup on, you got guys standing around talking, and I hate that. “I always go with headphones, get the work in, and continue on with my day.”

His diet, just like his dedication to his body, is a testament to his discipline. “It’s an egg white omelette with green peppers, mushrooms, and onions with no cheese,” he says. “Sometimes, I add a side of turkey bacon and green tea.” And Phifer knows which foods help him look and feel his best. “Eating right has made the biggest difference in my body,” he says.