Tell us about your background? Where are you from?
I’m from a small industrial town in the north of England, Burnley. My father’s Antiguan and my mum’s a Salford lass! Growing up in England wasn’t???
How did you first know that you wanted to get into acting?
I first fell in love with movies at a really young age, my Papa (God rest his soul) had taken my two brothers and I to the cinema to watch The Lion King. I spent more time watching my younger brother as he went on this journey, from crying uncontrollably… sat on the edge of my Papa’s lap… to creasing up laughing. Guess that’s where my fascination for storytelling began!
You worked on quite a few shows in the UK before breaking into the US. What has that journey been like for you?
Working in the UK on institutional shows like Grange Hill, Coronation St and Waterloo Rd gave me a grounding not just professionally but personally I’ll be forever grateful for, but crossing the pond, with the scope of opportunities available in the states was always the goal!
Your first role in a US show was on Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens. What was that audition process like?
I’d flown in to audition for Mr Murphy, Ian Brennan & Brad Falchuk. We did the auditions on the old Glee set… I think the people sat next to me on the plane knew my lines, and the other characters lines as well as I did! It was an opportunity of a lifetime… to play and creatively collaborate with the genius that is… I was going into battle. I was so prepared and ready for my big moment… he said two words to me, I did my scenes once and was shown the door. I got a call 30minutes later saying I didn’t get the part. Crushed, devastated, angry, emotional… as much as you know and you’re constantly told rejection is all part of the business… it’s the toughest pill to swallow! Two hours later I got a phone call.. “Ryan didn’t think you was right for the role, but he loved what you did in the room so much he’s going to write you a character of your own”! Talk about a fuckin’ rollercoaster.
Full Look John Eliott
What was your most memorable offscreen moment from set?
The show was a dream… I was able to take my younger brother on set with me, shooting in New Orleans for 5 months with some of the most talented creatives on the planet was something else! Nick Jonas & Glen Powell were the homies on and off set… it was interesting to work with different characters and personalities.
How do you navigate the ups and downs of the business?
Navigating the ups and downs…there are times you feel like you have everything figured out and times you just want to hide away. I’ve got the most incredible family and a few close friends…and I mean a few close friends that help me be the best me. Motown always helps.
So far, what has been the biggest challenge to proving yourself in the industry?
I believe everyone within the industry has a different struggle, within this highly competitive world, I believe authenticity is key. You aren’t going to be the right fit for every role but I love being able to get in the room & being able to play. I don’t necessarily think I have to prove anything other than being true to myself and being present in the moment… and people will see that or they won’t. Showing the layers of a man I’ve become… scratch the surface.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?
I’d tell myself to enjoy the journey, something my mother tells me relentlessly still. That it’s ok to not have all the answers and friends will come and friends will go but to cherish the moments without any guilt, to be selfish and love with every ounce of love, take leaps and be true to yourself… it’ll all work out. Today’s problems are tomorrow’s victories… you are enough!
What is a dream role you would like to play?
My dream role… there as so many… but in this moment, to play Bob Marley or sugar Ray Leonard or Jean Michel Basquiat! Massive inspirations in my life that fought through injustices through their chosen crafts, personally and through their art.
Full Look Maison Margiela
It was recently announced you will be starring in the Riverdale spin off “Katy Keen” co-staring along side Lucy Hale. What can you tell us about your character?
My character Alexander Cabot III is a dreamer, ambitious and driven with love in his heart! But there are sides and levels to him that after the surface has been scratched, will be incredible to play!
Were you a fan of Riverdale before auditioning for the role? Had you seen the show or read the Archie comic books?
My good friend KJ is on Riverdale… I’ve known that bright spark of light and talent for a good few years, so when he told me he landed the show I was buzzing for him. Then viewing it from a none biased stand point, I was blown away. Not just by the look and feel of the show but how strong the characters were and how the chemistry radiates.
In what ways will Katy Keen be similar to Riverdale and how is it different? What can the fans expect?
Katy Keene is a show for following a young tribe of 20 somethings following their dreams in the Big Apple. Confronting their fears, falling in and out of love, finding their own truths. Expect the unexpected and buckle up!
You are already active on social media but are you prepared for the rabid fan base you are going to have once the show premiers?
Although I’ve been on social media I haven’t been as active as I probably could be. I never thought my voice was really that valid to be honest… and maybe a little bit behind the times. I’m the sort of person who would happily live without a mobile as I feel that being present (especially now) is so key. I don’t believe that my views are necessarily always right but if I can influence someone to do good and be better like 2Pac said “I’m not gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world” I fuck with that!
What depictions of young black men do you want to see more of in Hollywood?
To be black, to be mixed, to be Asian, to be a woman, to be white, to be Latino, to be gay, to be fluid and anything else… is to be human…the world needs to catch up…understand, listen and to be educated! I believe that through story telling we can break boundaries, take leaps and we can be the generation that future generations can look back on and be proud of. I’m excited to be alive now and to be apart of this movement…I believe Katy Keene is a show that is a vision of that progression!