Interview by Maria Rochelle
I know the last time we did an interview, I asked you “where do you see yourself in a year?” and your response was “Hopefully as principal character on Broadway or feature film or TV.” Now, just this year you have been cast in the show “Rise” as Robbie (less than a year) and here you are seeing this dream come true. How does that make you feel?
I’m ecstatic. Honestly, I’m still trying to process it. It seems like at any minute now, I’m going to wake up and start crying because it was a dream.
Can you tell me about the character, Robbie, that you’ll be playing on “Rise”?
Absolutely. Robbie is a very stoic type of person. I don’t want to give anything away, but he has a lot on his plate and he absolutely won’t let other people see it.
How are you preparing for this role as Robbie?
Well, he’s a football player. I’m not…anymore (lol). I now go to the gym 5-6 times a week, and I have completely changed my diet. Also, Grace and I have been on a “Friday Night Lights” craze just to kind of get a feel for the style of the show.
I also bought the book “Drama High” and although my character isn’t in it, it gives me a little bit of insight as to how the teachers were.
Has the show started filming?
Yes. We filmed the pilot at the end of March into April. Now that we’re picked up, we have to announce the series, and when it will air, to the press.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in being in the entertainment industry?
Don’t give up. Although I’ve had some success, it has been anything but easy. I’ll say this till the day I die, if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.
This next question is totally off the wall. If you were going on a camping trip, who would you take with you and why?
“The circle” …The circle are my brothers by choice. They have been my best friends since high school and some middle school. I didn’t go on my first camping trip until I was in college and it was with them. I would choose them over anybody any day.
Tell me three fun facts about you.
I’m an actual rapper outside of the TV show. Side note (I rap in the show)
I love playing Xbox a little too much.
I hate bananas…A Lot. They are the worst to me.
If there was one thing you could change in the world, what would that be?
Here’s what I mean by that. Not to get political, but I see, hear and read so much on the internet about our society and how messed up it is, but nobody seems to be listening. What I mean by listening is, listening to the other side and compromising as opposed to “it’s my way or the highway”. Growing up in the south and living in the north, I’ve been exposed to the left and the right side. My conclusion is nobody is listening. Nobody is trying to make things better. Everyone is trying to have things their way, which happens to be “the better way”.
Now, you and your girlfriend, Grace, are filming “The Grace Show” where you do a weekly video, you two are hilarious together. What was the inspiration behind this?
Well, we had talked for months about doing it but we needed the right equipment and the right material etc. She didn’t realize that I could actually edit videos, fairly well. Once she discovered that, she started. She said, “Work studio. NOW!!!!”
Now, I know you two are having fun. Do you write scripts before the video or just wing it?
We honestly just have subjects that we want to talk about and we just talk to each other. That’s how we are off screen too. We just get each other. We know how we work. We’ve just always been a great team.
With you being an actor, dancer, and singer, do you think you as an creative guy has a more powerful inner life and if so , why?
That’s not me trying to sound confident; it’s just that being a creative person requires you to put everything on the table. You have to go to places, emotionally, that people don’t like to go to. We as creative people or “artists” have to be able to say, “Here are my issues, my insecurities, my vulnerability, come and listen to them and try to love me afterward”. To do that, we HAVE to have a powerful inner life.
When you don’t get a part, how do you deal with rejection? Do you see it as that…that you’re rejected?
It depends honestly. In this business, there are certain projects that you audition for where you say, “I’m perfect for this.” and you get super invested and dedicated. Other projects, you read a description and go, “On what planet, do I, a 5′ 8” bi-racial, prepubescent little boy, play Kristoff in Frozen on Broadway?” But you do what you can.
If so, how do you handle rejection?
It’s tough, because for a long time I would put up a facade and say that I was okay, and just “move on”. When you see your friends booking things left and right and you’re working three jobs to pay the rent it can take a toll. I recently stopped focusing so much on, “getting the job” and more about just staying creative. Whether that’s writing music, recording it, learning new songs on the guitar, doing the Grace show, or taking class. Anything I can do to feel like I’m creating, helps me forget about not booking the next gig.
What impact do YOU want to make on the world?
I want to be a mogul for positivity, and a symbol for perseverance. I don’t want to change the world, I just want to be somebody that people look at and say, “That’s a cool dude. He’s always a treat to be around. He’s always a hard worker. I also feel like we would be great friends.”