Actor Ron Lester is perhaps best known to audiences as Billy Bob in the film “Varsity Blues” (1999) and Michael 'Sugar Daddy' Bernardino on the television series “Popular” (1999-2001). He received two Teen Choice nominations for the latter role. Starting his professional career in a commercial in Atlanta, Lester became a standup comedian in Los Angeles before scoring his first film role in 1997. The Georgia native has appeared in other TV series, including “Freaks and Geeks,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “CSI: NY.” Other films he has acted in include “Dill Scallion” (1999), “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001) and “The Karate Dog” (2004, TV).
Overweight since childhood, Lester has had gastric bypass surgery and over 15 plastic surgeries to remove excess skin. Originally weighing 508 pounds, he lost over 300 pounds after the operation and weighed around 173 pounds when he appeared on “The Montel Williams Show” in 2004.
Lester has actively participates in charities related to children and Native Americans.
Childhood and Family:
Nicknamed Ronnie and Lester, Ron Lester was born on August 4, 1970, in Kennesaw, Georgia. He graduated from North Cobb High School in Kennesaw. While attending high school, his sister died, which caused him to consider suicide. Ron began acting in school and church productions in Kennesaw. He also took part in local rodeos. Ron has had a weight problem since he was a child.
Ron loves motorcycles, a passion passed on to him by his deceased father Leonard. He is close to his mother, who still lives in Georgia. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with friends.
Ron Lester performed in several plays while growing up in Kennesaw, Georgia, including “West Side Story,” “Music Machine,” “Oliver Twist” and “Babes In Toyland.” However, he did not launch a professional career until a friend invited him to come to Atlanta to appear as an extra in a national commercial. His natural acting talent soon caught the attention of the director, who gave Lester a featured role on the commercial. He followed it up with a performance on a music video for the band Little Texas.
After the success, Lester moved to Los Angeles. He began performing standup comedy in comedy clubs like The Laugh Factory, Punchline, Melrose Improv and The Ice House. In 1997, he won a supporting role in “Good Burger,” a comedy film directed by Brian Robbins that starred Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. Based on a recurring sketch on Nickelodeon's sketch show “All That,” the film grossed over $87 million worldwide against its budget of $9 million, but earned primarily negative reviews from critics.
Lester's career took off in 1999. In the football film “Varsity Blues,” a reunion with director Brian Robbins, he costarred as high school football player Billy Bob. With a budget of approximately $16 million, the film collected over $54 million at the box office and opened at No. 1 in North America. The cast included James Van Der Beek, Amy Smart, Paul Walker, Ali Larter, Jon Voight and Scott Caan. Lester next worked with Billy Burke, Lauren Graham, Kathy Griffin, David Koechner, Henry Winkler, Jason Priestley and Peter Berg in “Dill Scallion,” a mock-documentary following the rise and fall of a country western singer. It was written and directed by Jordan Brady. In September that same year, Lester began a recurring guest role on NBC's “Freaks and Geeks,” which was executive produced by Judd Apatow. He worked his way up the television ladder to series regular on The WB's teen drama “Popular” (1999-2001). In the series, he was cast as high school wrestler Michael 'Sugar Daddy' Bernardino, a role that brought him two consecutive Teen Choice nominations in the category of TV - Choice Sidekick (2000 and 2001). Costars included Leslie Bibb, Carly Pope, Tamara Mello, Christopher Gorham, Sara Rue, Bryce Johnson, Tammy Lynn Michaels, Leslie Grossman, Lisa Darr, Scott Bryce and Diane Delano.
In between “Freaks and Geeks” and “Popular,” Lester acted with Kevin Connolly in “Drum Solo” (2001), a 6 minute length film co-written and directed by Bob Joyce. After “Popular” left the airwaves, he portrayed Wally in two episodes of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” a popular sitcom based on the Archie comic book series of the same name, and Reggie Ray in the Joel Gallen directed comedy film “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001), opposite Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans, Jaime Pressly, Eric Christian Olsen, Eric Jungmann, Mia Kirshner, Deon Richmond, Cody McMains, Sam Huntington, Samm Levine, Cerina Vincent, Lacey Chabert and Riley Smith. The film opened at the top 3 at the U.S. box office.
In 2002, Lester appeared as Styles in the comedy film “The Greenskeeper,” which starred John Rocker. He resurfaced in 2004 on “The Montel Williams Show” with a significant weight loss after undergoing surgery in 2001. The same year, he also portrayed Edward Cage in Bob Clark's comedy “The Karate Dog,” alongside Jon Voight as Hamilton Cage and Simon Rex as Detective Peter Fowler. The next year, he played Officer Murphy in the “CSI: NY” episode “Dancing with the Fishes.”
Recently, in 2010, Lester completed filming the dramatic film “The Fat Boy Chronicles.” The film was directed by Jason Winn and scripted by Michael Buchanan and Diane Lang. He plays Dr. Jeffords in the film, which he also co-executive produced.