Cleo Anthony pulls up to the photo shoot in a bright red Ferrari California convertible. It is a flat-out ridiculous car: its turbocharged V8 engine puts out 550 horsepower, enough to take you from 0–60 in a stunning 3.3 seconds; it can drown out a symphony and costs as much as a house. And Cleo Anthony willed it into his life as if by magic. “I kept getting signs from the universe about it,” he says, still sort of impressed with himself. “I couldn’t not have it. It was just meant to be.”
If ever there was a car that perfectly embodied its driver, this is it. Anthony, who stars in Spike Lee’s much-lauded Netflix show She’s Gotta Have It, is as charismatic and confident as his ride. His was a long road from Virginia country boy to Hollywood It boy — long, but remarkably sun-kissed. He decided he wanted to be an actor after watching Bad Boys with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. “Can any two people look like they’re having more fun?” he asks. He was infatuated with the whole world of it, the Michael Bay–Jerry Bruckheimer excess of the thing. If they ever made a sequel, he vowed he’d be in it. And sure enough, some eight years later, he was cast as a background actor in Bad Boys II. That was when he moved to the West Coast and started modelling, acting, and dreaming of exotic sports cars.
That’s not to say Anthony doesn’t work for what he has. For She’s Gotta Have It, he spent gruelling hours learning French for his character — he even vacationed in Paris during hiatus to brush up his language skills. And he made sure to pay attention to everything Spike Lee, another early hero, taught him. “It should be a prerequisite for every actor to work with Spike Lee,” he says. “He’s so exacting, and he can teach so much.” Now, Anthony’s back to work on the show’s second season, racing headlong into his bright future. Luckily, with a ride like that, it won’t take him long to get there.