How do you feel that African American impact the arts?
Our culture developed the arts. All that we brought across the Atlantic was stolen and recreated. If you’re specifically talking about acting, the Greeks inaugurated that art form. It has helped blacks to build wealth and created new pathways for us to look through a different lens as we tell our own stories. As a kid I was always impressed by the metamorphosis process. Sidney Poitier exemplified that through his transformation. Coming from a very small island like Jamaica to America without having the ability to read and write fluently, he change the course of his life through acting. The arts are for those who refuse to live and think conventionally. It’s true freedom. I too, find myself free. Free to develop characters the way I see them. Free to be who I want to be. The West sales everything with Black art. We must be very care how we use the gifts that has been given to us. Time will tell how this culture benefited from those who came before us and inspired the world to look at us. I marvel at our greatness.
What inspires your work with Black men who are incarcerated?
I made a lot of poor choices early in life that became an impediment to me doing things like regular people. Once one breaks the law and given a felony, that person life is restricted in securing a job. So, while serving four years in a prison, I started my metamorphosis process. I read about Charles Dutton aka The Rock. He served time in prison and started acting while in prison. And, he took time to help other kids. So, I too wanted to help kid’s avoid the traps and pit falls of the street life just as he did. I was deeply into drama before my four year reprieve at this prison. So, I figured the best way to help kids was to become an actor as well. Entertainers are the gods of this world. I needed that type of influence to redirect what I saw in my community as hopelessness. It was the best decision I have ever made. The influence I wanted has been given me me by Gods Grace I go into school, jails and youth jails telling people about the psychology of incarceration.
What type of training have you had?
I did stage plays with Michael Matthews back in the day. So, I had received training in theater. However, I furthered my training with Ivana Chubbuck studio for one year and John Sarno studio for two years. I like my old acting teacher who would say, "You can’t become a workshop junkie, take your training into the world". In which, I was eager to do. My best training came from working with three prestigious women; Academy award winner, Kathy Bates,and Jessica Lange, and Oscar nominated Angela Bassett, on American Horror Stories. I received was one on one acting lessons. It was an accelerated course for six weeks to talk with them and see them perform was better than any acting class one could’ve taken. It was magical watching Kathy Bates morph into a diabolical and sinister human being. As she played her role, and Angela Bassett, who played my love interest gave a stellar performance as well. And, last it was Jessica Lange who taught me to separate myself from everyone on set and focus on the character. The nuggets that I picked up from each of these women was incredible. Six weeks of talking and viewing the best in the business was all I needed to move forward. After being nominated for an Emmy award for best supporting actor, I immediately thanked Kathy Bates. After working with her on American Horror Stories, she told me that my acting was strong and true and that I was a great actor. I never forgot that when I wanted to give up on acting because he had gotten tough. Angela Bassett also congratulated me on the nomination. I am simply blessed.
What keeps you motivated in such a competitive industry?
What keeps me motivated is the belief that I’m called to use acting to proselytize that your environment does not control your thinking and that one can rise above with laser focus and discipline. I believe that kids are waiting to hear my voice to get inspire to leave the street life and see another way. Also, women and men who have a fatalistic view on life because of their failure to see that there is always a way to escape. That’s why I’m not in competition with anyone. When I meet good actors I tell them that they’re good and inspire them to be greater. I don’t have to grind like most actors. I am the gift.
What does success look like for you?
I’m already successful. Yes! I said that. Nobody can determine that for me. Success is over coming every obstacle. My biggest obstacle was myself, overcoming the self impose limitations that I had placed on myself with distorted thinking. However, I have a few more thing I would like to over come before leaving this world. I want to turn one of my memoirs into a movie.. the book is titled "Undiagnosed, the ugly side of Dyslexia". I want to do a TV show like The Rock. Showing me living in the hood and motivating my kids and others to do the right thing. I have the treatment for that ready to go
What is your favorite role?
I’ve been so many roles. I have worked on a TV Show titled, :A House Divided", my character was an assassin. I enjoyed the complexity of Brother James. He had come from the street life and got heavily involved in religion and became his own righteous god who brought judgment on those he felt, was living a life that was contrary to his values. He was a laconic character but powerful. While I can’t say that it was my best role, I don’t think that I’ve done my best yet. I’m working on a character now name Jeremiah. I’m impressed with him but he’s not completely done yet. There is so much more that needs to develop with Jeremiah for me to consider him my best character. Characters have many dimensions, and we only saw one with him so far. Tyler Perry will decide his fate. I’m still hungry to try a role that will challenge me. Clyde Jones is my acting coach and we have much more to do so that I reach my peak. He’s been in the business for 30 years and is a very tough coach.. so I’m ready for anything that comes my way.