Actor, Keith Powers, Talks ‘Sin City Saints’ and ‘Straight Outta Compton’

Interview By: Shaine Freeman

keith powers
Photo Courtesy: Elias Tahan

Keith Powers is a star on the rise in Hollywood. From his leading role on the Yahoo! Original TV Series, “Sin City Saints“, to starring in the highly anticipated summer 2015 biopic, “Straight Outta Compton: The Story of NWA“, Keith has his mind right and his game tight. Here, we learn just how he’s making it happen.

So, what made you want to get into a career in acting?
I was already into modeling so, it kinda became an extension of what I do, you know what I mean? But, the way I got into acting was through commercials. The way I got that was through my commercial agent, and when they became a theatrical agency, I signed to their theatrical side. I booked my first feature film, “House Party: Tonigth’s The Night,” once I got my manager. After I shot that movie, I just fell in love with acting and being on set, I didn’t want to leave. I haven’t loved anything like that since I played football.

You made your debut as a TV series regular on the show, “Faking It”. What was it like trying to land that role; were there a ton of auditions before you booked it?
First, it was one audition and I thought I did cool, but Alyson (casting director) didn’t seem so interested. Then, I found out that I got a callback, but when I got to the audition there was still like 15 people. So, I went first and had to read with Greg Sulkin and Bailey De Young in front of all the producers. The whole audition they were just laughing, and the callback was amazing. It all came to me natural and I was having fun with the audition. I could just tell that I got the role. It was a lot of fun.

That’s pretty cool man. Now, you’re starring in the Yahoo! series “Sin City Saints”, with Tom Arnold, Rick Fox, Baron Davis, and a few other notable people. I’m a big sports lover, especially basketball; but, what got you interested in being involved with this particular show?
Just like you, I love sports too. I played football more than basketball, but when I found out Baron Davis and Rick Fox were going to be on it, as well as Tom Arnold; that’s when I got very interested in the show. I had just seen Malin Akerman in a movie and I didn’t even know she had booked ‘Sin City’, and I also had just watched Justin Chon in “21 & Over”. So, when I found out Malin and Justin were both going to be on the show, I was like, “Oh snap! This show has a solid cast.” I was excited about it and couldn’t wait to get started.

WATCH KEITH POWERS IN ‘SIN CITY SAINTS’

Talk about your character, LaDarius Pope, on ‘Sin City Saints’. What’s his deal?
LaDarius is a crybaby. (laughs)  He’s very naive, and he’s a mama’s boy. But, that’s because he’s only known sports his whole life. LaDarius only knows basketball so, it’s kinda like a mask for him, and when it’s stripped from him you get to see who he really is. That’s how a lot of NBA players are, or any pro athlete. They come off as this cool dude, but when you meet them you realize that their sport is the only thing they know. That’s why so many of them get into trouble when they’re not at practice or playing the game. Because, they have all this money thrown at them and they don’t have anything to do during their off time. I think that’s LaDarius’ problem; he’s really still learning life.

You’re also in ‘Straight Outta Compton’, the biopic on 90’s rap group NWA. How does LaDarius differ from your role in this film?
First of all, this was a surreal experience. I was around people that I grew up listening to; Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, that’s all I knew growing up. It was amazing being on that set. But, I play Tyree Crayton, who was Dr. Dre’s little brother. Tyree is different from LaDarius in a lot of ways because, LaDarius’ life wasn’t nearly as hard as Tyree’s. I mean, Tyree grew up in Compton and he had a temper too so, those two characters are nothing alike. What’s interesting is that Tyree is always trying to protect his big brother, which is kinda different to see the little brother always sticking up for the big brother.

I’ve spoken to actors from various ethnic groups and the experiences with this career path for each group is different. What advice would you give to other young black men who are pursuing a career in acting these days?
I would say, don’t worry too much about yourself because, it’s about the character you’re playing. We all come from different backgrounds and I think sometimes we feel we have to change who we are and act a certain way, you know what I mean? Don’t get so lost in that, that you don’t want to be the character because, it’s not about you, it’s about the character you’re supposed to be playing.  Also, don’t take things too personal because, there were times when I’ve been in a callback and I was the only black actor there. You can’t control that kind of stuff, all you can do is your best. We often look at it like it’s a band thing, but sometimes it plays in our favor to be the only black guy. If you continue to kill these auditions and get roles, you can ride that wave. So, don’t get too caught up in thinking it’s hard being a black actor; just use it to your advantage.

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