You should know Aldis Hodge from his role as a slave in the WGN series Underground (Season 2 premiers on Wednesday). He’s played not only a civil rights activist but also the husband of NASA engineer Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), in the Oscar-nominated hit Hidden Figures. But all that aside, the North Carolina native has made peace with his current gig: “Right now, my job is professional interviewee, I guess.”
He’s kidding, guys. Hodge attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., and he paints and designs watches.
“For some strange reason I fell in love with [watch design],” he tells Yahoo Style. “I ran with it. I became enamored with the intricacy of watch movements.”
He adds: “It was a lot of learning. Going to companies and meeting with designers. I have been redesigning my collection, so it’s back to the drawing board.”
His ultimate goal is to build a company that’s self-sufficient and creates jobs for Americans. “I want to leave a legacy for my family and create a conduit for charitable contributions,” he says. “I’m a painter and am working on a series right now with [artist] honeiee. Art is my language and I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many strong women. Acting is the emotional distribution of my art. Everything is art.”
Given that Wednesday is also International Women’s Day, Hodge had some pretty on-point thoughts to share about equality.
“I’m a man. And a man should know how to support a woman. Being a real man means knowing how to support and treat women. You should not think less of yourself as a man to stand up for women’s rights and equality. Women should be treated equally, paid equally, revered equally,” he says.
He goes even further: “There’s a lot of little boys who don’t realize that being a man means not being a chauvinist. It means not treating women like they’re objects for your own fun.”
On the big screen, he helped bring an untold story of African-American NASA engineers to the forefront. When Hidden Figures won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, Hodge was on fire.
“I was so happy to win with this project because of what it means to the country,” he says. “And my whole family was there. I was looking at them the whole time. The crew I won with — I mean, I could not have been blessed with a better cast. In a broader sense, we’ll see what it means for the country. I feel like it shows the importance of the value of our culture, of educating black women.”
Underground is another story that Hodge is passionate about telling. “We as artists need to lead the charge for networks and studios and hold them responsible so they continue to do a better job of reflecting what’s really out there,” he says.
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