Isaiah Mustafa is known for his star-making turn as the main character in Old Spice’s commercials, but it was a long road to get there. Mustafa, who is now an actor in movies and TV, was a football player, restaurateur, and contestant on a game show that changed his life.
Mustafa was always athletic, playing basketball and running track while in high school. He didn’t play football in high school, but went out for the Moorpark College team, hoping for an athletic scholarship. He became the team’s wide receiver, then transferred to Arizona State University, where Mustafa was the starting wide receiver.
After graduation, Mustafa planned on becoming a high school teacher, but a sports agent suggested he give the NFL a try. He was put on the practice squads of many teams, including the Tennessee Oilers, the Oakland Raiders, and the Cleveland Browns. He also attended the Seattle Seahawks’ training camp, after a stint playing for the Barcelona Dragons in NFL Europe.
After leaving football behind, Mustafa opened a barbecue restaurant that ended up going under, leaving the actor feeling like “a bit of a lost soul.” One day, while watching the game show The Weakest Link, Mustafa decided he could do well on the show. He became a contestant on the show and ended up winning $47,000, which helped him launch his acting career.
His Big Break
Mustafa used the money for acting classes, which ended up paying off. He scored bit parts in shows like Ugly Betty, Days of…