He may play police commissioner Abe Carver on Days of Our Lives, but there’s certainly much more to portrayer James Reynolds than just his day job. As a theatre owner, director, movie producer, charity fundraiser and basketball enthusiast, Reynolds is a busy man with very passionate views.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Reynolds where we talked about his life onscreen and off.

First and foremost, I have to tell you that after undergoing heart surgery earlier this year, James is doing just fine and even getting back to the game he loves – basketball. “I’m feeling well. I actually played my first full-court basketball game last night,” he happily boasted. And with the exception of a few sore muscles, he couldn’t have felt better.

Next on the list of importance, I can lay your fears to rest about the negative effect the writer’s strike will have on your favorite soap. James assured me that they still have several weeks worth of scripts left and while he doesn’t know exactly what will happen once they run out of those, “The show will continue; that I’ve been told.”

While he and his fellow actors support the scribes, Reynolds is very happy to still be playing Abe, a character he’s inhabited since the 80’s and one that has garnered him the distinction of playing one character longer and with more hours of television logged (over 3,000) than any other African American actor. This is a huge accomplishment, especially, as James pointed out, considering all the talent that we have seen over the years, including that from Denzel Washington (St. Elsewhere) and Bill Cosby. “It’s something we are proud of and we certainly hope that down the road somebody will [break] that record,” Reynolds humbly offered.

Being the recipient of this honor, I suspected James would have very specific thoughts about the lack of minority representation on television. When I asked him about it, James did not disappoint, as he expressed his opinion about the matter in no uncertain terms.

Referring to soaps in particular, James pointed out, “The only consistent presence in daytime television has been the Carver family on Days of Our Lives and Kristoff St. John (Neil, Y&R) and Victoria Rowell (ex-Dru, Y&R) and other characters on The Young and the Restless…It’s sad because the largest per capita audience is African American and you would like to see daytime television respond to that in a more on-going basis. Producers think they can just offer occasional characters and the African American and the white audience will accept that.”

Turning his attention to primetime television, Reynolds cites The Unit, Ugly Betty and Cane as being the only shows to cast minority leads, with The Unit featuring the only African American lead. While he recognizes, “There are many who are part of the ensemble” on other shows, he feels that with the exception of The Unit, “there is no [African American] who has a show who carries the lead. I think in the year 2007 that is really deplorable.”