Shemar Moore’s 30-plus-year career has made him one of the most recognizable faces in film and television, and he’s not ready to call it quits.

While preparing for the return of his hit CBS series, S.W.A.T., the 53-year-old actor spoke with Blavity’s Shadow and Act about understanding longevity in the entertainment industry and knowing when to fight versus when to bow out.

To begin, Moore always knew he wanted “to get to the bag” but didn’t know it would happen like this.

The Oakland native began his career as a model and took up acting as a next step. His first major role was the handsome troublemaker Malcolm Winters on CBS’s The Young and the Restless.

“I remember day one. And I knew I was green. I knew I was nervous. I was getting all the light-skinned jokes and pretty boy jokes,” the father-of-one said. “I just took my shirt off, did some push-ups, put a bunch of baby oil,” admitted Moore, hoping to distract the production crew from his insufficiencies in acting.

To prolong the dreaded “tap on the shoulder,” Moore began taking acting classes and pushing himself as an actor. Moore’s original one-year contract with The Young and the Restless was extended multiple times from 1994 until 2005. He then left the soap to pursue other opportunities.

While in limbo about what to do next, Moore found success as the leading man in Tyler Perry’s first feature film, 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Moore revealed that a stop at The Oprah Winfrey Show during the promotional run for the film helped him to secure his next role. Oprah screened the film before having the cast on her show, and the reception Moore received was enough to convince executives he could hold down a leading role. 

“I came out there. I thought I was a rock star,” Moore said while reminiscing on the reaction from the women in the audience.

He continued, “We just got this beautiful welcome. But CBS saw that episode and knew they needed an African American in this role. They saw the attention I received and called me the next day and offered me the job so indirectly. And I’ve never told Oprah this, but Oprah indirectly got me on Criminal Minds.”

Moore’s character, Derek Morgan, was still the lady’s choice of the show, but this time the role came with a gun and revealed Moore’s diverse acting chops. Moore’s 12-year tenure in the role made him one of CBS’s leading men and primed him to carry a spinoff. 

S.W.A.T. premiered on CBS in 2017. The viewers who loved Morgan in Criminal Minds received a treat when they saw Moore in the leading role of Sergeant Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson.

The show had high ratings and an ever-growing fanbase,  Moore and viewers were shocked when CBS announced the program would not return for a seventh season. 


The news came in on a typical Friday at 6 p.m., and Moore wasn’t shy about sharing his feelings about the news.

He stated he was a “little pissed,” “shocked and confused,” and “bewildered” — not for himself, but for everyone else involved.

“I care for the show. And I care for the crew, and the crew doesn’t make money like I make money, and they have families, and I’m like, it’s not the right way to end a show like this. It’s not the right way to just shut people down. I was like, the show deserves a chance to say goodbye. And I feel like the crew deserves a chance to prepare for whatever,” he said.

On May 23, Moore took to Instagram to express his feelings about the blindside. He mentioned the diversity that his character, Hondo, gave the network. 

S.W.A.T. is the most diverse show on CBS,” Moore said. “CBS, when I got hired to be Hondo on S.W.A.T., was getting a lot of flack for lack of diversity. If I post this, and I think I might, I will get in a lot of trouble with CBS because I’m calling them out. Because they’ve been wonderful to me for 26 out of my 29-year career.”

He disclosed to us that he reviewed the video “12 times” before posting it but ultimately did what he felt needed to be done.

“I was like, ‘Okay, am I doing the right thing? If I push that? Am I coming across as arrogant? Am I making it about me? Am I bitter?’ And I don’t want to be any of those things. And I was like, ‘No, I’m speaking facts. I’m giving perspective. Hopefully, I make people think.’ So then I just went for it. And I pushed send, and I was waiting for some backlash,” Moore said.

Instead of backlash, Moore received a call from the executives stating that his public outcry had worked.

S.W.A.T. was revived for a seventh season, with only 13 episodes ordered instead of its normal 20-plus episodes.

Although the return of S.W.A.T. didn’t have a typical return rollout, it was a physical representation of Moore’s ability to know when to play his hand versus when to fold.

He said, “I like to defy the odds. I know that this life wasn’t handed to me. This career wasn’t meant. I have to fight for it all, and I’m very proud of it.”

New episodes of S.W.A.T. can be seen every Friday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.