Be they cowboy boots, flip-flop sandals, or six-inch pumps, one’s choice of footwear can say a lot about who they are. When it comes to sneakers, there’s an entire culture dedicated to the collection, preservation, and flaunting of high-end athletic shoes. The new Netflix comedy series, Sneakerheads, celebrates this culture, while also poking some good-natured fun at the more far-fetched elements of what it means to be a true blue shoe connoisseur.
The series follows Devin, played by Allen Maldonado, a reformed ex-sneakerhead who is dragged back into the scene thanks to his old friend, Bobby, played by Andrew Bachelor. When an unfortunate misunderstanding and an “all sales final” clause leaves Devin $5,000 in debt, he is forced to come up with a way to make things right before his wife finds out. The chemistry between Maldonado and Bachelor is fantastic, and the schemes they get into hearken back to the legendary duo of Jackie Gleason and Art Carney from the 1950s sitcom, The Honeymooners (only with a lot more cursing).
While promoting the release of Sneakerheads on Netflix, Allen Maldonado spoke to Screen Rant about his work on the series and his own real-life experience in the “shoe game.” He shares a story about a very special pair of Kobe Crazy 8 sneakers, and reflects on his own rise through the Hollywood ranks before discussing how he chose Bachelor to be his co-star in the series.
Sneakerheads season 1 is out now on Netflix.
Watching the first episode of your show, Sneakerheads, gave me flashbacks to when I was in middle school and we moved from one neighborhood to another, and all of a sudden, everyone was making fun of me because I had cheap sneakers. I was like, “I don’t understand what’s happening right now!”
I get it, man. Growing up in my neighborhood, if you had some dusty kicks on, you’d definitely get it.
Anyway, your show is such a jolly adventure through this culture, a culture that lots of people might not know about. Like, even if you don’t quote-unquote “get it,” you’re still having a good time!
It’s the characters. You may not know about the world, but you’re still fascinated by the characters and watching them move through this world. I think it’s a cool world, man! In the shooting process, I learned a lot. I would definitely consider myself a novice sneakerhead going into this project, but I learned all the terminology and what makes a shoe work. The artists, the designers, the scarcity of some shoes; there are only 200 made of some shoes. There’s so much that goes into the value, and they become sought after so relentlessly, with people sitting outside of Foot Locker for days waiting for a shoe to drop, it’s incredible!
You said you’re an amateur sneakerhead… Have you dived in hardcore yet, or are you still watching and learning?
Listen, I can appreciate a good shoe, but to be a sneakerhead, you have to earn that. There’s levels to it. These guys, not only do they have a great shoe collection, some are worth millions, but they know the backstories of the shoe and the designer. The different names of different things that go into making why one shoe is different from another. It’s an education, man! I’m definitely in school, still learning. I have a few shoes that I love, but they’re for personal reasons and my own value towards them. I had a pair of Kobe Crazy 8s when I was in middle school. It was the only shoe my mom… At the time, she was a single mother raising three kids, so buying a pair of $100 shoes was not happening. But the only pair of shoes she bought me as a kid were Kobe Crazy 8s. Here’s a story: I was in a show, The Last OG, and while shooting the first season, I walked into a Foot Locker and I saw the shoe. I hadn’t seen that shoe since I was in middle school… And I bought every pair they had. I bought every color variant. It was important to me, because I remembered when I could barely afford one. This was the journey, the payoff to all the hard work I’d been doing in my career, that I could buy shoes and make special moments like that happen.
That’s the stuff that really melts my heart. Coming from a place where you don’t have stuff, you’ve gotta do what you can to get by… Every once in a while, you can show a little bit of pride if you’ve really earned it, right?
Right. I have my degree of survivor’s remorse, and not allowing myself to enjoy the fruits of my labor at a maximum level. It’s been a journey for me. I’ve come up with a phrase, and it’s sort of a mantra: “You can’t let no one out-love you but you.” That’s my perspective over the last few years. That’s nobody else’s job but me, to love me. And I can treat myself to good things, and that puts me in a good position to love others and not feel slighted. It’s a beautiful thing.
Kinda related to that, and this is something I’ve been asking people lately during this whole quarantine mess… In the current ongoing Covid crisis, a lot of Hollywood productions, you don’t get the big premiere with the red carpet and the parties with hors d’oeuvres and free booze and stuff. How do you give yourself a victory lap when you finish a project like this?
For me, and this is sort of my thing, it was always the job. The job was the love. It was never about the premiere, it was never about the red carpet. I love acting! I love doing what I do. The show is a result of everything, it’s the cherry on top. The idea of people enjoying what you do with the heart and soul of it all… Ultimately, it’s never a thing about premieres and that stuff. The celebration was in making it. The joy that I get is from performing, being in front of the camera, and creating this world and these characters. I appreciate being able to do what I love and being able to take care of myself while I do it. I know how impactful it can be to someone after a rough day, and knowing the impact I can have on someone’s life, that’s the reward. I’ve had that situation, where I had a bad day, and one movie or one show was able to change my entire mood and put me in a better place to succeed the next day. I want to do something that, over time, I can see the reaction and the impact that the work has on people. That’s what I’m in it for.
Well, maybe this is far-fetched, but you sound like you had those shows you watched when you were younger. Now that you’re a big deal yourself, did you ever get to meet anyone from those shows and talk to them?
Martin (Lawrence). Martin is my favorite comedian. That was a show I religiously watched. And I don’t know if it’s just me, but… I’ve been in areas where Martin has been. When Tracy Morgan got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Martin introduced him, and I didn’t want to be introduced to Martin. I wanted him to feel me as an artist, and know me as someone who can make people laugh with the comedic work I do. I didn’t want him to be, like, “Who is this guy?” I wanted him to know and see my work just like how I saw his work, and be like, “I like this kid!”
We’ve gotta get you a part in Bad Boys 4, then!
We put it out there!
A big part of the success for Sneakerheads is the dynamic between you and Andrew. You are like a 60-years-later version of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton from The Honeymooners. That’s the vibe I was getting.
Yes! Yes it is! (Laughs) That’s a perfect example! A lot of the kids aren’t going to know what you’re talking about, but that’s a perfect example.
Were you two cast together? Did you have a degree of say over who your partner was going to be?
I hand-picked Bach. I hand-picked him for this role. I knew it was important to have someone I could trust and know they could bring a level of “funny” that would allow me to be a straight-man. I needed someone who could bring laughs in the moment. I’ve played that position, I’ve played that role throughout my career. So I knew what it would take to succeed on that side, and I knew he was the perfect choice to play off of and build a dynamic that could be compared to legends. As far as our chemistry, and our ability to naturally interact with each other, it’s special. We did a movie together, called Where’s the Money, a couple of years ago, and I noticed it then. So, when this opportunity came, I made sure to reach out to Bach and bring him on board.
It pays off because I love the show and I think a lot of other people are going to love it as well.
Thank you, thank you!
Okay, last question: Is everyone on the hook for season 2, or is this a one-and-done gig?
That’s up to Netflix! They’ve gotta bless us with that. I would love a season 2. I want to see where they go in their life, how they grow, the continued trials and tribulations of their interesting friendship!
Sneakerheads season 1 is out now on Netflix.