INDIANAPOLIS -- Long before he was he was walk-on receiver at Grambling State University and an undrafted free agent for the Indianapolis Colts, Chester Rogers was a 10-year-old in the bright lights of Hollywood acting alongside the likes of Cuba Gooding Jr. and Billy Dee Williams. Rogers took pictures with Chris Rock and even got a kiss on the cheek from Gabrielle Union way before she married NBA star Dwyane Wade.
“I thought I was going to be a lifelong actor,” Rogers said.
Rogers was a natural for the big screen. He was always full of energy while growing up in Huntsville, Alabama. He was the one who always had his friends and family laughing while being a class clown in school.
Rogers was able to show off those talents when there were open auditions for the movie “Constellation," which was shot in Huntsville. His mother asked him if he were interested in auditioning for a part.
“Of course I said yes,” Rogers said. “I had no fear. I wasn’t nervous. I was ready for the big stage.”
Rogers won the role of a young version of Williams' character, Helms Boxer, in the movie that also featured Union and Hill Harper.
“You can totally tell he’s got the acting ability when you talk to him,” Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton said. “He’s so personable, and he always has everybody laughing.”
"Constellation" was just the start for Rogers. The director strongly urged Rogers’ mother to move the family to Los Angeles, where there would be more opportunities for him. Rogers, whose stage name was Tre Rogers, ended up with roles in "Dirty" with Gooding and in Tyler Perry’s "Madea’s Family Reunion."
“'Madea’s Family Reunion' was probably my biggest role,” Rogers said. “It's only one big scene, but it was a big scene with Cicely Tyson. And that comes on TV almost every month. It never fails that for the past 12 years, I always get screenshots and people sending videos to me.”
What were Rogers’ in-awe moments?
“I have three,” he said. “Cuba Gooding Jr., Cicely Tyson and Maya Angelou.”
“No, I have four,” Rogers said. “I can’t leave Gabrielle Union off the list. I got that kiss on the cheek from Gabby when I was 10, and that was my first movie. I was too young at the time, but I told her to catch me on the flip side.”
The downside of pursing a movie career for Rogers was the 12-hour days on set while being homeschooled and learning how to handle the humbling experience of being rejected for a part. Rogers got a part in Chris Rock’s "Everybody Hates Chris," but the show recast the family. He was also scheduled to have a part in TBS’ "House of Pain." The contract was signed, and he was prepared to move to Atlanta before there was another recast.
“You have to have thick skin,” Rogers said. “It’s helped me in this business [of football]. It doesn’t matter the situation because I’m always going to keep fighting, going to keep pushing. Being told no as a young kid was heartbreaking, but it definitely builds character.”
Rogers put his acting career on hold and moved back to Alabama so he could play football and attend college because he promised his mother that he would graduate from college. He graduated from Grambling State last spring.
His acting will remain on hold for the time being.
“I can’t play football when I’m older,” he said. “I’m going to take care of this first, and then when I’m done playing, I’ll resume the acting side of things.”