By Quinci LeGardye published
New Netflix drama Maid, a heartwrenching show about poverty in America, follows a young single mother as she fights to create a better life for her daughter. After leaving her abusive boyfriend, Alex (Margaret Qualley) has to find a new home and job with very little resources, while also fighting for custody of her two-year-old Maddy. Along the way, Alex receives help from an old friend and new romantic interest, a kind-hearted single dad named Nate (Raymond Ablack).
As Nate, Ablack reprises the heartthrob role that he became Netflix-famous for in Ginny and Georgia earlier this year. Though many may be seeing him for the first time in Ginny and Georgia and Maid, the Canadian actor has been starring in beloved roles on Broadway and television since he was a kid growing up in Toronto. Here's everything we know about Raymond Ablack.
He played Young Simba in The Lion King musical in Toronto.
Ablack was born in November 1989 in Toronto, Canada. He was a child actor, getting his start in various commercials and ads. In 2001, he landed the role of Young Simba in the Toronto production of the musical The Lion King at the Princess of Wales Theater. He told Talk Nerdy With Us that he asked his parents if he could audition after they went to a performance.
"I saw the kid playing Simba on stage and I thought, 'I can do that, nothing special there,' and then two weeks later, I saw auditions in the newspaper and I asked if I could go, and I lucked out and got it," he said.
He played Sav Bhandari on Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Ablack joined the iconic teen soap in Season 7 (2007) and graduated from the school (and the show) in Season 11. He was popular, played in the band Stüdz with his friends Peter and Danny and Degrassi OG Spinner, and he even dated Keke Palmer when the singer played herself in one episode.
He also stayed in school while staring in the show. He completed his senior year while on Degrassi, and then he started attending Ryerson University. He graduated with a B.A. in Radio and Television, Media Production, with an English minor, in 2019. He told Talk Nerdy With Us that his backup plan if acting didn't work out was to become a sports anchor.
He was a competitive hockey player growing up.
In addition to acting, he also played hockey as a kid, with hopes of becoming a National Hockey League (NHL) player. He said in a 2011 interview that he played every position over his 14-year career, and when he landed Degrassi, he was playing as a goaltender. "I really do think (and likely I’m a bit delusional) that if I still had time, with the drive and love for the game that I have now, I could’ve maybe made a legitimate run at the NHL – or at least that’s what I tell myself," he said.
He's had an impressive run of supporting TV roles.
Odds are TV fans have seen Ablack in one of their favorite shows way before he hit Netflix. In addition to Degrassi, the actor has also had runs on Life with Derek, Orphan Black, and Shadowhunters. His first Netflix show was Narcos, where he played a new DEA agent named Stoddard.
His go-to karaoke song is "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion.
Ablack first fell in love with the Titanic theme, and Celine Dion, as a kid. Back in 2010, he told Seventeen that the diva is his favorite singer.
"My mom and I love Celine Dion. She was my first concert ever. Then I saw Titanic when I was really young and at my grade three talent show, I sang "My Heart Will Go On." Actually, I went up with a puppet, and I did a comedy routine first. Then I sang "My Heart Will Go On" and won the talent show."
He acted with his real-life sister on Ginny and Georgia.
The 31-year-old was able to share the screen with his younger sister, Rebecca Ablack, when she won the role of Padma, Marcus' girlfriend, on Ginny and Georgia. He shared behind-the-scenes pics of the two on set on Instagram, writing, "It's not lost on me just how impossible the odds were and just how lucky I was to have lived a shared dream with my sister. Feeling grateful."
His inspirations for his Ginny and Georgia role were Chandler Bing and Jim Halpert.
Ablack told Bustle that by playing Joe, restaurant owner and Georgia's romantic lead, he was able to play the type of role that he always wanted to play but that never saw himself in, as a Indo-Guyanese kid watching Friends and The Office.
"A leading role as a POC young man in a series on Netflix — to me personally…it’s more important than just getting a job." For his character, he said he "took all these pieces of Ross, Chandler, and Jim that I never got to see with my skin color. And hopefully he’ll be someone people want to identify with."
He added, "I’ve seen this type of character represented by white men before. And I’ve seen it represented and mocked as POC men—like Apu, [the Simpsons character]. [Joe] is not just something to laugh at, and I was eager to try and flip that idea on its head and show [brown people are] not just a joke, we can be leading men."
Quinci LeGardye is a LA-based culture writer who covers TV, movies and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.
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