Brent Antonello felt an instant connection when he auditioned last year for the role of Jude Kinkade on VH1’s nighttime soap/basketball drama Hit the Floor, whose third season premiered 9 p.m. Monday.
As a kid growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Antonello played baseball for Thomas Aquinas High School, so trying out for a part as a junior sports agent was a no-brainer.
“I was surprised that they handed me a script talking about baseball statistics. I mean: What are the odds?” said Antonello, who was sidelined from the sport due to an arm injury. “I felt immediately comfortable and everything clicked.”
Once the 26-year-old hunk was offered the job, reality set in.
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“You get so excited and tell your friends and family, and then you wake up the next day and go, ‘Oh crap! I actually have to do this now and perform and deliver for producers and directors and the network.’ ”
Joining the show — which follows the behind-the-scenes drama of fictional team The Los Angeles Devils — in its second season was another challenge.
“I had a lot of nerves in the beginning,” Antonello admitted. “But now I’m able to focus more on the work.”
And the fans.
Playing a gay character has landed the actor a following he never could have imagined. After the second season ended with that locker room kiss between Jude and superjock Zero (The City’s Adam Senn), the emails and social-media shoutouts came flooding in.
“It’s crazy and surreal how it happens. I have a whole new set of people from the LBGT community following me, and it’s really frickin’ cool.”
As for what to expect from season three, Antonello hints that the men’s relationship — despite being a possible issue with Jude’s strict father — will continue.
“Jude basically puts his foot down and fights for he wants, telling Zero, ‘I can’t be with you unless you come out as the gay man I fell in love with, not this star basketball player with a religious facade.’ You’ll see some nice arcs. I also think it’s interesting that not really since Jerry Maguire have you seen an agent’s personal life with clients.”
Hit the Floor is just the beginning. Antonello has major goals in the acting world.
“Both platforms — TV and film — are so strong now. But if I were to be in a movie I like gritty indie dramas. Basically I’m interested in everything. If I keep working, I’ll be extremely happy.”
So when he gets back home, is a baseball game in the cards?
“You know, I have a love-hate relationship with the Marlins,” admitted Antonello. “I’m a gung-ho, diehard Dolphins fan.”