By Matthew Bretz
At 4 feet 4 inches Chris Hollyfield might not appear to be a formidable force in the entertainment world, but in actuality Hollyfield, a.k.a. Lil’ Boogeyman, a.k.a. Lil’ Big Man, a.k.a. Shorty by Nature has been a driving entity in almost every facet of the media for nearly 20 years. Chris started out a professional wrestler quickly moving up to the WWE in the late 80’s where his fan base exploded. After wrestling Hollyfield made the rounds with the talk show circuit, Maury, Raphael and of course Springer. In the 90’s he appeared in movies and on the reality shows including Road Trip, Gamers, Five Days in the ‘A’, the Real Word Extreme Challenge and WWE pay perviews and DVDs. Hollyfield quite frequently fills his dance card rubbing elbows with musicians and celebs like Treach from Naughty by Nature, Shaq, Dennis Scott and as of late Lebron James. Lately he’s been working hard on a couple dozen more projects, just to stay busy, including a new reality show he’s been shopping around, a motivational speaking tour and a new internet show for young people. While Chris took a minute to breath a ambushed him with a few questions.
MB: So let’s start at the beginning. Where did you come from?
CH: Now I don’t know if my parents want me to get into all that (laughs). Seriously though, I got my start in wrestling. I was playing low level circuits around the country at county fairs and such. Then one night I got the opportunity to be on a pro card with Bruiser Brody who is now deceased.
MB: How did life change in that moment?
CH: It was my first pro card, the year was 1988. over night I went from crappy motels to suites. All of the sudden fans were everywhere, at the venue, at the hotel, even at the rental car places. One night a couple of the St.Louis Cardinals came to see me wrestle. After the show they invited up to their suite to hang out with the Fat Boys, who were a huge rap group back then.
MB: How did you end up making your rounds on the trash talk show circuit?
CH: A producer called me and asked if I would appear on Jerry Springer, now this was during the height of his show, and offered me a role as a little person whose brother had messed around with his girl. It was all scripted of course, but I said no. I was trying to build a career and didn’t want to be labeled as a fake guest on the show. Instead I offered to play a security guard. They liked the idea and that was it. See I always knew that if I got in front of the camera my personality would shine through and someone would see me…and that’s what happened.
MB: So from there your star just continued rising?
CH: Kind of yeah. All of the sudden I was getting offers to appear in movies and television shows. I did a magazine ad for Pure Players with Dennis Scott and Shaq where we were photographed in boxer shorts that had little pockets for condoms.
MB: You are using one of alter names more than the others nowadays. How did that come about?
CH: Yeah, Shorty by nature. I was hanging out in this bar in LA one time with Treach from the group Naughty by Nature. Justin Timberlake and Chris Kirkpatrick from N’Sync were there too. Anyway we were joking around and I said ‘Treach man…when are we gonna collaborate on something’? And he said ok lets do it. I’ll be Naughty by Nature and you be Shorty by Nature. After that it just stuck. I’m using it in my new show because of two reasons. One, I’m “shorty” by nature, and two- we were all “shorty” by nature at one time in our lives. You may be 6ft tall, but there’s now way you started out like that.
MB: Yeah, let’s talk about your new show and how you decided to get into that. It started because of your speaking engagements right?
CH: I spend a lot of my time lately speaking at schools across the country about bullying and the effect it has on people. Now I was bullied from time to time as a kid because of my size and I know how it feels to be punished for something you have no control over. I had no idea what to expect when went to my first school, but it was amazing. The feedback I got from the kids and how well they listened got me revved up and I was hooked. Now I travel anywhere I can to bring a positive message to kids, even juvenile prisons.
MB: So what sparked your new internet show?
CH: Well, I go to these schools like I said, and the kids want more when I’m done. They want a way to stay in touch and hear what I’m saying. My idea is to have a live internet show that they can tune into called “The Shorty by Nature Hour” where I come on and be real with them. I’m going to start every show telling them how important it is to respect their parents and their teachers and anyone else that is trying to help them find their way. I’m not going to plan much out except for a current events section, and my wardrobe will be whatever I feel like wearing that day. Simple and to the point.
MB: Can people call in during your show since it is live?
CH: Yes they can. There will be segment where we open the lines and talk to the kids, or anyone else, directly right on the air. I want to use a mix of MTV and Nickelodeon to keep them entertained and let them know that they don’t have swag just because their mom bought ‘em a pair of Jordans. Swag has to be earned through honesty and respect. Kids need to know that there is someone on their side. Someone who will say- ‘have enough respect for your self to become a complete person’. They want to do well; they just need approachable role models.
MB: I understand you have a reality show in the works as well right?
CH: Yes, it’s a private detective show. I went out and became a private eye, got some people together and shot a pilot. So right now we are shopping it around to studios and production companies. Hollywood is fickle though, I think every producer has ADHD. One minute you’re hot, and the next you’re not so it’s a waiting game, but we’ll find a home for it somewhere.
You can learn more about Chris Hollyfield on his website www.gotrespect.com. If you would like to see him in action on his internet show, there is a link on his site as well.