All American – The Life of a Star Football Player 

All American – The Life of a Star Football Player 
Photo by Max Böhme

All American is a sports drama created by April Blair. The tv series, which debuted on The CW in October 2018, follows the life of Spencer James (played by Daniel Ezra), a star wide receiver at Crenshaw High School. The show currently has four seasons, with the fifth season set to release in October 2022. The story revolves around James, who was born and raised in South Los Angeles and a star high-school football player. He is recruited to play football at Beverly Hills High School, where he has trouble navigating this new life both on and off the field. His past life of Crenshaw begins to collide with his new life in Beverly Hills, causing immediate issue. The character is inspired by the life of Spencer Paysinger, who was a professional football player, in the NFL as a linebacker from 2011-2017. He played in the NCAAF at the University of Oregon, and played in the NFL for the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Carolina Panthers. This show takes a page out of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where a city boy is thrust into the life of the upper class LA elite. James struggles to acclimate to his new life while also pursuing his college football dreams. Celebrities such as Chip Kelly, Cordae and JoJo have guest starred through the first four seasons. The regular cast includes:

  • Bre-Z as Tamia “Coop” Cooper, Spencer’s lesbian friend and Patience’s girlfriend from Crenshaw High.
  • Greta Onieogou as Layla Keating, Spencer and Asher’s ex-girlfriend from Beverly High.
  • Samantha Logan as Olivia Baker, Spencer’s girlfriend, Billy and Laura’s daughter, Willie’s granddaughter, and Jordan’s twin sister.
  •  Michael Evans Behling as Jordan Baker, Billy and Laura’s son, Olivia’s twin brother, Willie’s grandson, and quarterback for Beverly High.
  • Cody Christian as Asher Adams, wide receiver for Beverly High and the ex-boyfriend of Layla and Olivia.
  • Karimah Westbrook as Grace James, Spencer and Dillon’s mother who secretly knew Billy a long time ago and had a one-night stand with him
  • Monét Mazur as Laura Fine-Baker, Billy’s wife who is a lawyer and also Olivia and Jordan’s mother.
  • Taye Diggs as Billy Baker, the coach for Beverly Hills High American football team who recruits Spencer; Laura’s husband and Olivia and Jordan’s father.
  • Jalyn Hall as Dillon James, Spencer’s younger brother.
  • Chelsea Tavares as Patience Robinson, Coop’s love interest.
  • Hunter Clowdus as JJ Parker, an outside linebacker/QB2/tight end for the Beverly High Eagles.

Season 1 and 2 have 16 episodes, season 3 with 19, and season 4 with 20 episodes. All American was nominated for 3 Black Reel Awards, winning one, and nominated for 4 NAACP Image Awards. The show received a score of 92% and 100% for seasons 1 and 2, respectively, showing how well-received the show was and continues to be. All American is a soap dressed as a high school sports drama, so if you’re more into Riverdale than football, this is a solid compromise. 

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