Can you give us your take on Cameron Burk?

“His brother, Carlton Burk, was already on board the ship, but he’s the guy who was trying to figure his way out on board the Nathan James. He’s relatively new to the group, so it’s already a challenge trying to fit in with everyone. They’re moving as one unit already, and adding a new unit sometimes doesn’t work. So he’s trying to find his way, and he also has that edge to him – he thinks he should be a captain, he thinks he should be in charge of his own ship. But you have to earn that, and that’s part of the challenge of what he goes through throughout the season.”

Can you talk to us about the dynamic between the Burk Brothers?

“I think ‘hothead’ is a strong word, but Cam is the more determined, more… always wanting to prove himself brother. I think Carlton is the cooler brother. If they were in high school together, Carlton would be the one who got the girl, not Cam! Cam always had to assert himself and to prove to himself that he was worth whatever it was that he was doing, and, to an extent, some things came easier to Carlton than to Cam. They do love each other, though, and it was great having a ‘brother’ on the ship. When Cameron was going through what he was going through, he had someone that he could trust, because he really doesn’t know anyone on the show that he trusts. He was able to talk to Carlton about things that are bothering him, or things that are going on. A lot of things he was going through were internal, so he was able to voice out some of his frustrations, and Carlton is always the one who calms him down.”

Cam comes over as a little bit impulsive, and someone who acts on the spur of the moment. Is that something you’ve had input into?

“That’s my interpretation of it. That’s something that I brought. I’m not sure if the writers agreed. Pretty much what they wrote, I performed. My take on it was that he had a chip on his shoulder. More of a boulder. Whether it was something that I brought, or something that they wrote, it came together nicely, and it was fun to watch on screen.”

We’ve seen him make some bad decisions and be passed over for promotion, finally redeeming himself later in the season. What would you say has been his defining moment on the show?

“I’m not sure what episode it was, but there was an episode where Carlton, my brother, was in a helicopter, and we had to launch a missile from the Nathan James. We had to do it manually because a malfunction happened. It was between me relaying the message – it was something that Cameron was hesitant in doing, he didn’t want to do it this way. It was too risky, and there was too much on the line. Once that happened, and once it came through and it all worked out, that breath of fresh air and that weight off your shoulders… he started to get the respect of the crew. Whether that came earlier in the season for the audience to see, that would be their question. I think that, for Cameron, that’s when he felt his worth. ‘I know I’m good at what I do, and I feel it now.’ He had some doubts before that, because he pretty much got them into the situation they were in, and now [he’s] chipping away at getting them out of that situation, and that was a big chunk. That relieved a lot of stress from his shoulders.”


How did you manage to juggle main roles on both THE LAST SHIP and DESIGNATED SURVIVOR?

“A lot of coffee and frequent flier miles! It’s challenging, but when you’re not working as an actor, and you’re in class and you’re studying, and visualising what you want to do with your career, there’s no other thing I’d rather be doing than bouncing around between two hit shows, and two shows that I love being around. If it was something that I didn’t care about, and didn’t love and appreciate, it might feel like work, but I get excited! As soon as I finish one episode in Toronto, I’m getting the new episode from THE LAST SHIP, and I’m on the plane studying. That excites me. It’s been fun, it’s been great.”

The Duke: Based on the Memoir I’m the Duke by J.P. Duke from SPG on Vimeo.

You appeared in a short film called THE DUKE. Can you tell us a little about that?

“That film hits close to home for me, because I’m a former football player. It’s a student film – an AFI film – there’s no money in it, no glory, from what they were telling me. I was already working on an NBC show at the time, so it would have been tricky to juggle both. When I read the script, it was a story I really wanted to tell. I know these people, I’ve lived in this world, and I think it’s something that hasn’t been talked about enough. While we were doing it, Will Smith had a movie come out called CONCUSSION, and the whole movie was based on it [the theme of concussion]. Our movie came with a dark comedy feel. I don’t know if the writers intended it to be a dark comedy, but when it all played out, it had a lot of funny moments; not ‘ha-ha’ funny, but ‘life happens’ [moments]. There was a look in on the humanity of this character, who was trying to figure out what was going on, and not really knowing what’s wrong with him. At the end of the film, he sees that he’s not all together. Whether he knew it in the first place, and was fighting against it, all the action that happened on that day culminated in him needing help. People suffering with concussion syndrome – PTE [post-trauma epilepsy] – think they’re fine, and they don’t realise how it damages the people who love them until it’s too late sometimes. That was probably my most gratifying role of 2016.”


You’re also a bit of a beast when it comes to slamball. What’s all that about?

“Slamball was so much fun! When I finished playing football, I was still young – early 20s – and I knew I wanted to focus on acting, get into class and pursue it until whatever happened, happened. Then slamball came around, and I figured I’d try it. I had one foot in slamball and one foot in class, trying to get better at my craft and to do what I wanted to do on this side. Slamball kind of took off, and we’d be in South America, China, Europe. It was so much fun! I still had that competitive aggression that I had with football, and I was able to live that out with slamball. Football is short lived – after college, most people don’t make it to the NFL, so slamball gave me that extra life: the physicality, that brotherhood. It was fun. They’re still going, they’re kicking off big in Shanghai, and they’re going to have another season in the USA in summer 2017.

Is there anything you can’t do without on set?

“Late nights, I need my coffee! Throughout the day, I need my dark chocolate, and a good book. It could be any kind of book. When we have downtime, to keep myself from watching TV on my phone, I like to read stuff. On DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, we play chess. Downtime on DESIGNATED, there’s chess boards all over backstage, and we pick up games with anyone. It’ll be open game all day.”


Do you have any specific ways you get into character?

“I just find out what he wants, what’s going to happen if he doesn’t get what he wants, and the sense of urgency for his role. Each role is different, so there’s different ingredients that I pepper in. For television, once you figure that out early, it’s the same character throughout a long season. Once I’ve figured that out, each day before I go to work, I meditate, I breathe in what he’s going through at that particular time, and try to fit inside that skin. When I get to my trailer. I have about thirty minutes of meditation time before I work. It’s the same when I finish: it takes me about 15-20 minutes to get back into my own skin.”


What’s coming next for you?

“[THE LAST SHIP and DESIGNATED SURVIVOR] are pretty much eating up all of my clock! There was a time when I was bouncing around and I had three of four projects. When I first started DESIGNATED, and midway through THE LAST SHIP, I had three or four projects coming out, like a couple of Netflix projects, another pilot from a show called I’M SORRY – that’s coming out on Tru TV, that got picked up. Everything else came out already. It’s DESIGNATED second half, and THE LAST SHIP season four!

Don’t forget you can catch LaMonica starring in DESIGNATED SURVIVOR on Wednesdays, ABC 10/9c from March 8th.