Staying True to his Craft: Actor Spencer Trinwith Talks ​Upcoming Projects and “Wonder Woman 2”

The decision to pursue acting is always a brave one. Of course, many artists feel it is their life passion and must fulfill their dream. The fact is the industry consists of handling rejection, competition, and hard moments. However, certain artists learn to lean into the struggle (setbacks and all), and channel that energy to become even more passionate and determined. Sometimes, there is even an art to learning how to adapt. Such is the case with talented actor Spencer Trinwith, who always knew from an early age that he wanted to be an actor. Spencer is within his authentic element when working on a film set. He’s on the rise and applies a smart and insightful approach to his craft. Spencer has also experienced an enormous health challenge but tapped into other forms of creativity to stay focused. Trinwith knew acting was his life purpose and that would not change. “There is something so special about how collaborative acting is — all of these different parts moving in unison and working toward a similar goal. Not to mention, it’s darn fun,” said Trinwith.

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Trinwith explained his desire to act as a career became very clear in High School. He expanded by emphasizing that he was not into academics. Spencer wanted to focus on the arts. He attended the University of North Carolina for the Arts and lived in DC for a while. He comes from actor parents and due to his innate interest in the arts combined with the family exposure to creative endeavors inspired his ambition even more. He was even named after Spencer Tracy. Trinwith has quite an impressive resume. He has appeared on television in “Law & Order: SUV” alongside special guest star, Sharon Stone as well as the television show “VEEP” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Hugh Laurie. Spencer’s professional theater credits are extensive. He played Norm in “Suicide, Incorporated” in Washington, DC to stellar reviews. He also starred in an adaptation of the Stanley Tucci film “Blind Date” titled “The Personals,” for the stage.

After a health setback at the age of 21 that left him viewing life from a different perspective, his mindset had to shift to keep him healthy and focused on healing as well as still inspired to accomplish his future goals. Spencer has made a full recovery and even worked on five films this past summer. He’s excited about his short film (about to hit the film festival circuit), Saved by Grace, which required intensive physical stuntwork. Spencer happily took on the challenge. He is also starring in Wonder Woman 2 1984, which is “set for July 5th, 2020 Warner Brothers worldwide release. His story is inspiring, and when he had a moment, the thoughtful and passionate actor took the time to speak with us.

Tell me a bit about your childhood. Your parents are involved in the acting world, correct? It’s always great to have that support.

It is wonderful! I get to have a scene study partner pretty much on call 24/7 between the two of them! I grew up in the Bay Area and Washinton, DC. My parents have always been incredibly supportive of me pursuing this career.

You recently went through a challenging time with degenerative disc disease. How did you stay so strong mentally? Did you feel there was a time that you might not be able to act again?

Music. Most of the time playing guitar would be too difficult for me. But I got into producing on my computer. I would spend hours while on bed rest. Sometimes days. I would compose music — everything: hip-hop beats, electronic, rock, metal, soundtrack, EVERYTHING. I have a gigantic catalog of music from my time before my surgery. I’m very proud that despite everything, I was still able to find a way to be creative. I never stopped creating!

You have had the opportunity to work on many film sets over the past summer. What was the film shoots like for Saved by Grace and Really Love?

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Saved by Grace was particularly exciting for me because I got to perform all of my stunts. From hand to hand combat, to falling out of trees. They had me doing just about everything, and I welcomed it! Mud and everything! I had a blast working on Really Love. My scene with Kofi Siriboe and Yootha Wong-Lou-Sing was virtually all improvised. It was such a fun give-and-take!

Regarding your acting process, you had mentioned that you try to approach from a simplistic approach versus “doing too much.” Can you elaborate?

Yes, the age-old actor dilemma of: “What do I do with my hands right now?” We can easily fall into the trap of feeling like “we are not doing enough” and because of that: we can run the risk overcompensating. Trying to push for a result. For me, I try to keep it to a few steps — Know what your character wants, commit to your character’s circumstances, listen to your acting partner, respond to your acting partner and your hands will follow after.

 

spencer outsideAlso, you are always challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone with your roles. Is this your nature concerning risk-taking with specific roles?

I feel it’s a bit of a mutual attraction! I enjoy working on roles that are a far departure from myself, or extreme circumstances. To let my imagination run wild with the thought of “What If?” It’s certainly a rush and a difficult task. But I love it.

What does acting bring to you personally as well as your life?

I cannot live without it. There is something so special about how collaborative acting is — all of these different parts moving in unison and working toward a similar goal. Not to mention, it’s darn fun. When I was on bedrest, it was very isolating. Yet I did have a deep, burning desire for acting and knew that is where I belonged.

After living in DC, which is a gorgeous city, what do you think of L.A. now that you are after living and auditioning here?

DC And LA couldn’t be any more different! Both have a lot to offer. I will say though, the first time I ever flew into Los Angeles, (considering I have no family here or relation to this city), as soon as my plane touched down at LAX, I had this overwhelming sense of belonging. I knew this was going to be my home and when you are in a new home its best to create a network of friends and associations that make you honestly feel “at home.”

You have been working so much. Did you take a Thanksgiving break?

I did not spend Thanksgiving with my parents this year. I volunteered with “family” at Project Angel Food in Los Angeles, bright and early at 6 am on this holiday, prepping meals in their kitchen for those in need. It’s a fantastic charity in Los Angeles County which provides free meals for men and women too sick to shop and cook for themselves, and it’s been doing this for almost 30 years.

Everyone is super excited about WW2 1984! Can you please expand upon your character a bit?

Due to NDA (non-disclosure agreement), I can’t speak about my character or the film. However, I’m so excited for its release as I’ve been a lifelong fan of DC comics and characters!

On a final note, please click the link below to hear Spencer speak on a recent podcast from KTLA!

https://ktla.com/2018/11/26/spoken-dreams-spencer-trinwith-actor/


Gemma Magazine would like to thank Spencer Trinwith for joining us. We can’t wait to see all of his upcoming projects. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to do a followup. For now, Spencer is happily traveling due to nonstop work and living out of a suitcase. He would not have it any other way.

To follow Spencer on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/spencer.trinwith.3

https://www.instagram.com/spencertrinwith/

 

Photos by Brian To / Styling by Victor Hugo Guevara

 

 

 

Blake Borders~Teen Actor Taking Risks and on the Rise

Blake Borders (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8767522/?ref_=nv_sr_1) is only sixteen and is fiercely following his passion. Blake has numerous acting credits to his name and has no plans on slowing down. He has starred in various shorts and has an upcoming feature film coming out. Blake is not your typical teen, but he’s doing what he’s passionate about — acting. Blake Borders has fully committed himself to his craft and is making his mark. Talented, warm, and smart, he has a clear vision and works passionately to fulfill his dream. Blake is based in Clovis, Ca but makes the commute to Los Angeles for auditions, premieres, and scene study intensives. He has an extremely healthy perspective on the industry and is authentic in his desire to act.

He is currently signed with LA Management (with Addison Witt as his Manager) and recently signed with Alicia Beekman as his Agent with Commercial Talent Agency. An integral aspect of Blake’s success has been the immense support from both of his parents.  Again, he’s only sixteen (and already passed the CHSPE Exam and his Driver’s test). After communicating with his mom, Heather Borders, it’s very inspiring to see her support. Recently Gemma Magazine had the fantastic opportunity to interview Blake, meet his family, and get to know him while he was in L.A. for an acting workshop.

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It’s so lovely to meet you finally! Thanks for joining. What sparked your interest in acting?
Thank you so much for having me. I have always known since a young age that I wanted to perform. I would make movies with my sister and the neighborhood kids. I starred in a 4th-grade play and felt comfortable on stage. I ended up loving theatre program and my Elementary school productions. My passion grew from there. I decided to take it further. There was a local agency up north that led to some great connections and that eventually resulted in me signing with LA Management, (under the guidance of Talent Manager Addison Witt). It helped tremendously with castings, workshops, and support. I’m genuinely grateful for Addison Witt’s support. He’s made the entire process so much easier.

What was it like going from the theater to real-life auditions?
Auditioning, at first, made me incredibly nervous and I had to work through it. For a while, it was very challenging. However, I knew how much I enjoyed acting. Now, I’ve been performing consistently for over 2 1/2 years and auditioning feels natural.

How does acting make you feel (as Blake Borders)?
Acting makes me feel great. I’m in my element, and I find it joyful. I get to step outside of myself. It’s so much fun to see the final product after putting in so much work. With dramatic pieces, in particular, even more so. You get to connect with people in a way that would not usually do so in a regular job or profession. I also find joy in seeing the reaction on people’s faces after a film screening to see how it affects them. It’s always nice when the work you have been a part of touches other

The Fringe of Existence is upcoming, which is a very dramatic piece. How did the shoot go? Also, can you please expand on the director, Felipe Cisneros.

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The Fringe of Existence

The Fringe of Existence was a fantastic experience. I play Harrison and the entire cast is great.  Jackie Dallas also stars in it. It’s very dramatic. It’s currently going through the film festival process. Yes, Felipe Cisneros directed the film, who had such a strong vision from the beginning and that helped the film launch. He’s wonderful at communicating what he wants to the cast. That made it so much easier. Felipe also won best directing and writing for the film.

 

Farewell Cherry Summit is another great short film you starred in. Currently, it is on Youtube. We enjoyed your character Ben as well as the chemistry between you and Emmy (played by Bree Leon).

That was also a great project. Again, I play a shy kid in his shell, and he’s nerdy. His friend convinces him to go to a party to break the shyness shell. Events at the party end up going south. Although, he does meet Emmy, who is moving out of town the following day. Our characters end up spending the rest of the evening hanging out. “It was nice because the shoot was tiny and intimate. Bree and I had a lot of time to talk and connect on set.” Our characters bond so well by the end of the film, and I feel having a smaller production allowed Bree and I to get to know each other, which translated well onscreen.

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Farewell Cherry Summit

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Farewell Cherry Summit

I know you come to LA for scene study intensives. What is that like?

Intense! But also so inspiring and informative to keep building my craft. My teacher is amazing. She has this manner of looking for the best in everyone but she also tells you what you need to hear without sugar coating it, which produces success for others. I also do Improv classes in LA for 8-week sessions.

What can you tell us about Shards, which recently wrapped?

Shards is a horror film and my character’s name is Peter. I love horror films. Unfortunately, I can’t say too much since we recently wrapped the film. Again, it was such a great experience with the cast members and the director.

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Shards

How excited are you about the feature film coming out called The Adventure of TP Man and Flusher?

Super happy! My character is ‘The Granddaddy’. It will be premiering December 2018. I play a mob boss with 1980’s clothing and a New York accent. This film is directed, written, and produced by Griffin Loch (who is 14). Griffen is amazing, and this film is his second feature film and focuses upon the tragic epidemic of teen suicide. It tells a true story of deep depression, laughter, love, and friendship.

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Is memorizing lines somewhat easy for you?

I have to say it comes pretty naturally which is a gift. I’m able to read through a script quite quickly and get a good take on the character. From an actor’s perspective, this is extremely helpful. When you can memorize fast, it allows you to form the role within your head and play it out. If I look at the script too much, it’s not beneficial for me.

Do you think that you get typecast a lot as “the boy next door?”
Sometimes. I understand that it might be what many casting directors see initially. However, I’m incredibly outgoing and not a shy person. I enjoy each character that I take on. I must say that I am so blessed by working with such great directors and people on every film I have been a part of.

How do you feel about the support you have received from your mom?

Incredibly grateful! She is the ultimate “momager.” My mom takes care of the entire business side (emails, castings, scheduling, driving) so that I can entirely focus on the creative elements — auditions and preparing myself for filming. If I did not have my mom’s support, I would not be able to do what I do.

Where do you envision yourself in 5 years?
I hope to be on a network TV series, acting in films, and bringing people together through my work. My dream would be to have a sustainable career from acting. I’ve learned that in this business, you can’t let yourself get overwhelmed where you end up crashing. You have to be remarkably calm and keep moving forward with a strong support system.

“My dream is to bring joy to people through my films and bring people together through my work.” Blake Borders

The very first film that you starred in Say You Will is on Amazon. It’s a feature, and it also gives you the opportunity to see how far you have come.
It’s exhilarating. Say You Will is my very first film had the privilege of working on two years ago. It is out on Amazon and iTunes. It is a fantastic coming of age story. I can’t thank Nick Naveda (Director), Nancy Taylor, and Taylor Grabowsky (Producers) enough for the excellent opportunity that I was given.

We have covered a lot of your work. However, it would be amiss not to mention The Choice, a short you filmed with Director Glenn Spillman of Cellar 13 Films  (cellar13films.com) about a teen boy that chooses to be different in terms of discovering his identity. What was the experience like?

The message is powerful and important.  Glenn Spillman also plays my dad in the short. It’s about a teen boy that chooses to be different. The film has received a lot of exposure. At first, I was very unsure because I had never done anything like this before. However, Glenn Spillman was so encouraging and helpful. Glenn has been supportive during this journey.


Blake Borders has a lot to look forward to, and we can’t wait to watch his growth as an artist (even though he never quite stops). He’s very inspiring by following his passion and having fun while doing so. To follow Blake on social media

https://www.facebook.com/blake.borders.904

https://www.instagram.com/blake.borders/


Lastly, on behalf of Gemma Magazine I would like to thank Blake Borders for the insightful interview, Glenn Spillman, who made the introduction, and Heather Borders for being so incredibly helpful during this process.

 

Bringing Diverse Representation to “Seven Seconds”– Corey Champagne Interview

Seven Seconds, the new Netflix (netflix.com/sevenseconds) series from creator and producer Veena Sud, (The Killing) has become a very talked about series, and it should be Corey Champagne plays tortured teen Kaduece Porter and Brenton’s best friend. Corey Champagne’s beautiful portrayal of Kadeuce honors Brenton Butler and who he was through his thoughtful and on point performance. It is his first significant role and what a fantastic way to start.

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Seven Seconds is about the never-ending consequences of a horrible incident in which Pete Jablonski (Beau Knapp), a white cop, accidentally runs over a black teenager named Brenton Butler on a bicycle. In sheer panic, Jablonski covers up the evidence with the help of his fellow officers. Throughout the remainder of the series, the audience follows along as an ever-increasing number of people are affected by the aftermath of the crime. Brenton’s death almost seems to have a ripple effect on how each character responds and how it affects their lives. Watching Latrice, Brenton’s mother, grieve and hunt down the answers to seek justice (played beautifully by Regina King), is devastating. However, Seven Seconds also reveals the ultimate crime — the indifference of a legal system that is supposed to protect and serve.

Corey Champagne is an integral part of the series. As Brenton’s best friend (since childhood), there is a solid bond.  However, Brenton’s father, Isaiah, (played by Russell Hornsby) did not support the friendship due to Kaduece’s gang affiliation. Regardless, the two boys stayed close, and Kaduece is the link to who Brenton was: His passion for art, a love of seagulls (as they represented freedom), and most importantly; their friendship. FB_IMG_1519909277837

Seven Seconds touches on a powerful point. One of the most hurtful realizations as a parent is the acknowledgment that sometimes you do not know your child as well as you think — due to work, stress, or the most unfortunate circumstance — you are so driven to “mold” your child, that he/she cannot be who they are. So many parents fall into this. Many aspects of this philosophy applied to Brenton’s father, Isaiah. He’s overworked, stays embedded in his faith, disciplines by the book, and is very strict. It’s heartbreaking to watch Brenton’s dad grieve his son’s death and come to the conclusion that he did not take the time to really get to know his son. Ironically, Isaiah learns more about his own son from Kaduece after a very rough start between the two.

ppeth1fi4elx9qd6ivckGemma Mag. was thrilled to speak with Corey Champagne about Seven Seconds and his character. It was wonderful to speak openly about race relations and how change must happen. He delivers an amazing performance and a rich, multi-dimensional character. Corey explained that he’s good at memorization and it shows. Champagne is only 26 and quite gifted.  Watching him play Kaduece makes you hesitate. His strong screen presence and thought-provoking emotions he brings to the role honor Brenton’s life while not embracing the stereotype.

Corey Champagne was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga, where his desire to fulfill a career in Entertainment took shape. Although naturally gifted, Corey credits his formal acting training to the renowned Alliance Theatre starting at age six. Corey attended Florida A&M University where he worked with the schools budding Music and Entertainment Industry Studies program before eventually transferring to Georgia State University majoring in Film.


GM: How did you get started in acting? Did you always know?

CC: I did always know from a little boy that I was amazed at seeing children on television, especially the Power Rangers, I wanted to be Zack (the BlackRanger), go figure. I was blessed to have a robust dedicated support system with my family; especially my mom. However, my oldest brother was the first to noticed I had a gift to remember lines. They all believed in my talent from a young age.  I started at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta from age six, where I learned that acting was so much more than just playing dress up, but it was a craft, an art form. My family never had to make me go to class, I gladly woke upon Saturdays and got ready. It was my passion because I never got tired of going. Then I attended the #1 duel-magnet performing arts high school in the State of Georgia – North Springs Charter School of Arts & Science. There, I was able to sharpen all of my talents – acting, singing, writing and my love for speaking. Hopefully, I’m well prepared for this industry – going to reach back.

GM: What was the audition like?  Kaduece is an important role (with a lot of dialogue). 

CC: My agent at the time sent me over the audition from Tucker Meyerson Casting on a Wednesday, and the next day Thursday, my friend Donivan (and reading partner) came over to tape my audition. Then I sent it off on the same day. The following day, Friday, I got the call that I booked the role. It was so crazy because the next thing you know I’m in New York and on Monday I’m in my trailer getting ready to film. The first person I meet in hair & Makeup is Regina King – Wow!! I said to myself, “This is Crazy”! The rest is history!

GM: Did Veena Sud let you have a big part in developing Kaduece, as there are many layers to him? He certainly had a hard childhood.

CC: Veena was amazing. I had the opportunity to develop Kadeuce on my own based on the script.  After I wrapped my first episode [episode 3], she called to give me more insight into where Kadeuce’s storyline would be going and was so supportive throughout filming. She blessed me with an excellent three-dimensional character and I’m forever grateful to her. She’s such a fantastic visionary and now friend. I hope to work with her again. I will never forget the lessons she taught me.

GM: What was some of your research for the role?

CC: I had the opportunity to speak with a lot of drug dealers and observed them. I learned how society wants to categorize them so quickly (as bad people), but in some cases, we need to see humanity as well.  In their minds, the drug dealers are doing what they have to in making ends meet. It’s so important for others to realize that Kadeuce Porter and others cannot just be labeled as a “black drug dealer.”

GM: How was it working with Regina King?

Amazing! Also, an incredible learning experience. We did not have a lot of scenes together. However, she was incredibly supportive and maternal. There were moments when I just sat and observed her work and her creative process, which is phenomenal.

GM: Do you feel these shows that are taking heavy material (and there have many poignant ones) are making a difference in cultural attitudes? 

CC: Well, it’s interesting because I was speaking to someone about this topic recently since so many shows are taking on challenging material. It’s s hard to give a definitive yes or no. I think it’s great that we are embracing these topics but it’s a slow process, and I do feel that progress is happening. Overall, I feel that more we bring these type of shows to the forefront, the more impact it will have on audiences. For example, there is a scene where Kaduece talks about how he likes to keep his room clean and talks about his books (lined up perfectly). This is of great significance in terms of going against the stereotype of “a black boy always on the street.”


GM: What do you feel the nature of the relationship was between Kaduece and Brenton?

CC:  The exact nature of their relationship was never fully revealed and left open to interpretation. Romantic or not, it was more about an intense bond between the two and how they understood each other. Kaduece knew selling drugs was not for Brenton. He even admitted that “Brenton was not cut out for it.” For Kaduece, it was merely a way to make ends meet. He had his own aspirations. For many teens without a support system, it becomes a way to survive. Again, as Kadeuce stated, he felt he was a burden to everyone, except Brenton. This only strengthened the connection.

You have such a strong mindset. I follow you on IG (of course to see what’s happening), but I Love “The No Negativity Zone!” How do you stay so positive?

I try to keep God first and accept that the universe is on my side. That no matter what it looks like I have to trust my journey. I also call my mom a lot to talk and pray with her which helps. She is immensely supportive.


Gemma Magazine would like to thank Corey Champagne for this interview. He is articulate, kind and very open. It’s excellent Seven Seconds takes on race relations, police corruption, the indifference of the legal system, and most importantly — the morality of the human race.

We all have choices to make in terms of doing the right thing on a daily basis. Some are more severe than others. However, all have consequences. Ironically, critical decisions can happen as fast as 7 seconds but can have a lifetime effect. With Seven Seconds, a story is told based on the reality of our society today. “When is Enough, Enough?”How many lives need to be taken before action becomes proactive. Black Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. I encourage everyone to watch this tragically beautiful series. The response to the show and Corey’s portrayal has been overwhelmingly positive with audiences. Netflix released this show and this story in over 193 countries around the world.

To follow Corey on Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/corey.champagne

https://twitter.com/Corey_Champagne

https://www.instagram.com/coreychampagne/?hl=en

 

 

 

 

Coley Mustafa Speaks about “Seven Seconds” and More!

Seven Seconds, the new Netflix (netflix.com/sevenseconds) series from creator and producer Veena Sud, (The Killing) has streamed with raw and honest emotion as well as brutal truth. The series is about the never-ending consequences of a horrible incident in which Pete Jablonski (Beau Knapp), a white cop, accidentally runs over a black teenager named Brenton Butler on a bicycle. In sheer panic, Jablonski covers up the evidence with the help of his fellow officers. Throughout the remainder of the series, the audience follows along as an ever-increasing number of people are drawn into the aftermath of the crime. Brenton’s death almost seems to have a ripple effect on how each character responds to his death. The death of Brenton is tragic — without a doubt. Watching Latrice, Brenton’s mother, grieve and hunt down the answers in order to seek justice (played beautifully by Regina King), is devastating. However, Seven Seconds also reveals the ultimate crime — the indifference of a legal system that is supposed to protect and serve.

Pete Jablonski knows the teenager who was left to die in a ditch was black. He did feel guilty but he still let his fellow officers talk him into staying quiet and literally drive away from the scene without providing one ounce of assistance. Would this have happened if the teenager in the ditch was white? It’s hard to say. We are all confronted with choices at critical moments. The decisions we make result in consequences — some harsher than others.

When I had the opportunity to speak with Coley Mustafa Speaks, I was thrilled! Coley plays Messiah in the series and  I wanted to get more insight into his character as well as the series as a whole. There are many more layers to Messiah than how he is perceived on Seven Seconds. He plays the leader of a gang that Brenton’s parents were so intent to keep Brenton out of but Messiah also has a strong mission.

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Photo: DEAN FOREMAN

Originally from Booker T. Washington Projects, in Jersey City, NJ, Coley attended Hampton University, where he played football while earning a degree in Marine & Environmental Science.  As an undergraduate, he became internationally published for his work in shark behavior while performing in numerous stage, television and film productions. He is best known for his numerous national commercial campaigns for major brands as well as his menacing roles as “Keshawn” in Harry’s Law (NBC) opposite Kathy Bates. Coley’s breakout role was on Page 36 (HBO), a short but powerful film. Coley has juggled a lot and it has definitely paid off.

Since relocating to Los Angeles in September 2008, Coley Mustafa Speaks has shared the screen with Academy Award-winning actors and has worked with numerous other multi-award winning writers, directors, and producers. He also starred as Kevin Gaines on the USA Network series Unsolved USA.  Coley Mustafa Speaks is a beautiful actor with so much to offer. (http://www.usanetwork.com/unsolved/episodes)

When he had a moment to stop, I had the opportunity to chat with him. For the record, he’s extremely polite, well-mannered, and down-to-earth.

GM: Seven Seconds is a painful but beautiful story. Amazing acting from the entire cast with wonderful cast chemistry. Overall, what was the experience like for you? Can you also expand on your audition process?

CMS: My experience was extremely challenging yet rewarding. Initially, I auditioned for the role of SETH but didn’t hear anything for several months. Then, I got a call to submit a self-tape for the role of MESSIAH to NY casting. Booked it! However, I had to work as local-hire. I was required to cover my own expenses (travel, meals, lodging, etc.). Since I’m LA-based and owned a fitness facility at the time, traveling was challenging (and expensive). I was also filming UNSOLVED (USA), so the trips were frequent. Although a lot of rough events transpired during that time, those experiences fueled me to deliver the most powerful performances possible. So, I’m grateful! I also formed valuable relationships in the process.

GM: When Brenton is left to die in the ditch, (which is so tragic),
do you personally see that as complete racism, cop corruption, some sort of warped indifference or a combination of all?
Pete (Beau Knapp) knows it is wrong and yet, still goes along with the coverup.

CMS: I see the situation as a beautiful portrayal of the indifference one feels toward another based on the demonization and demoralization by the greater society. In this story, I believe Pete’s decision to leave Brenton was motivated by a combination of fear, discrimination, and guilt. Corruption and racism began to dominate when he decided to uphold the lie as the story progressed.

GM: Veena Sud (from The Killing) created the series. Was she constantly on set? I really like her use of symbolism, dark tones and the combination of characters she pairs together.

CMS: Working with Veena was a dream! She was present for a couple of my episodes. She was also very open and accessible whenever I had any concerns. I also had the honor of being directed by Veena on my first day of shooting Episode 2. I thoroughly enjoyed her insight and perspective.

GM: Many actors say what the audience takes from the series is their own interpretation. What would you like the audience to take from the Seven Seconds?

CMS: I would hate to insult the audience by imposing my view of what they should take away. The beauty of art is interpretation. However, I would like the audience to be aware of the underlying message, which I believe is: There is a problem in society…in the system. If we chose indifference rather than definiteness, we all fall. Ask yourself, “if this were me or my loved ones, what would I do?… What WILL I do?”

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Photo: DEAN FOREMAN

GM: Your character, Messiah, plays the leader of a gang (the same one Brenton’s parents are so desperate to keep him out of). How did you regard Messiah in this specific role?

CMS: Messiah is not a bad person by any means. Yes, on the surface, he is a leader of a gang, but more importantly, he is a leader, provider, protector, savior to his children and loved ones. He also has the huge burden of maintaining balance and order in an entire city, due to his power. MESSIAH’s occupation may be illegal, but his intentions are pure.

GM: Is it true that the HBO short film “Page 36” was your breakout role? I saw a clip from this short film – very good!

CMS: Thank you! Yes, that was my first leading role on a major network. Working with the late, great, Nelsan Ellis was a true privilege and I’ve grown so much as an artist because of his influence.

GM: You also played Kevin Gaines on UNSOLVED USA. What was your experience like?

CMS: Working on UNSOLVED was an honor because of the rich, historical story.  My character, KEVIN GAINES, an LAPD officer in the Rampart Division murdered by a fellow detective, was an instrumental part of the investigation. Under the masterful direction of Anthony Hemingway, my car chase scene was intense and thrilling. I had a blast working with such a visionary.

GM: Do you have a dream role?

CMS: I would love to star in the next JASON BORNE-type franchise. I want to play characters that are highly intelligent, highly skilled badasses who are sensitive and vulnerable, flawed yet decent men with big pecs and bigger hearts.

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Photo: DEAN FOREMAN

GM: Who inspires you (Men and Women) as actors/artists?

CMS: Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Leo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and Dwayne Johnson to name a few. Each of these artists possesses key qualities that I admire and “steal” from as I create my path.

GM: You previously owned a fitness business and are obviously very fit. Do you workout daily?

CMS: Health, fitness, and wellness is part of my lifestyle. My personal philosophy is: Stand Strong in 3 dimensions — mind, body, spirit. Physically, I train daily. My workouts are based on programs I design with a specific goal in mind. I also have daily practices to train my mind and spirit, such as reading, writing, and meditation. This is how my business, SS3D Fit Club, was born. I had a simple goal of sharing my lifestyle with others to help them achieve their maximum potential in every aspect of life.

GM: Lastly, we obviously need change (big time) in terms of cultural attitudes within our society Do you see that happening, even slowly?

CMS: I agree. Yes, I definitely see attitudes changing. The deeper question is, “How?” The How is not always so easy but I do feel we can do it.

“I see the situation as a beautiful portrayal of the indifference one feels toward another based on the demonization and demoralization by the greater society. In this story, I believe Pete’s decision to leave Brenton was motivated by a combination of fear, discrimination, and guilt. Corruption and racism began to dominate when he decided to uphold the lie as the story progressed.” ~~ Coley Mustafa Speaks

GM: Any new projects on the horizon? I know they said “Seven Seconds” is only going to be one season. Any chance for another season?

CMS: Not sure what lies ahead for Seven Seconds, although I would love to see it live again. Currently, I’m in development on a series I created based on my experience as a scientist growing up in the hood of Jersey City. I’m very excited about bringing this to life. Other than that, you can catch me in UNSOLVED (USA) and several national commercials selling you something cool!

I personally want to thank Coley Mustafa Speaks for chatting with us. Overall, Seven Seconds will definitely make you stop and think if our society is moving forward. As many have said, “When is it going to stop?”  There is absolutely nothing to fear in others. We all have the power within to produce change.

In the meantime, you can follow Coley Mustafa Speaks on the following Social Platforms

https://www.facebook.com/coley.m.speaks

https://www.instagram.com/coleymustafaspeaks/

https://www.twitter.com/coleymspeaks

https://www.facebook.com/sevensecondsnetflix/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive Interview: In the Moment with Actor Christian Keyes

Christian Keyes is a force — both in the courtroom starring as Charlie Riggs for his new show In Contempt on BET (www.bet.com) and as a dedicated actor taking his craft to the next level. The series portrays the court of law from the public defender’s point of view set in NYC, which makes for interesting courtroom drama. Christian Keyes is an extremely handsome and driven actor who is always up for a challenge to learn, to grow, and to expand his awareness. Christian has an infectious energy that he brings to every role he plays which comes through onscreen. Keyes makes it look so effortless, then again, that’s the point. It’s also the sign of an authentic artist. The audience genuinely enjoys watching Christian as Charlie Riggs, his chemistry with Gwen Sullivan (played by the beautiful and headstrong Erica Ash), and how he handles himself in the courtroom and in his personal life.

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Photo: DEAN FOREMAN

Christian Keyes was born in Detroit but raised in Flynt, Michigan. He got his start in the entertainment industry by appearing in stage plays. Next came television and film. Since his introduction as an actor, he has added singer, author, and producer to his resume. His charming and exotic looks derive from the combination of his parents. His father is African American and his mother is Native American/French. Keyes has been a working actor for years. From 2011-2014, Keyes had a recurring role on the BET comedy series Let’s Stay Together. He also appeared in the Ashanti music video, ‘The Way That I Love You.‘ In 2016, Keyes was cast in the Bounce TV prime time soap opera Saints and Sinners.

When he had a quick moment to stop, Christian spoke with Gemma Magazine and we could not be happier.

GM: Hi Christian! Thank you for joining Gemma! People love your character Charlie Riggs on In Contempt. Do you see Charlie as the ‘player’ that he is perceived as (professionally and personally)?

CK: Thank you as well! Charlie wants people to think it’s effortless for him, but in reality, it’s not that simple. Yes, he is witty, a good lawyer, and very intelligent, but he also has many defense mechanisms. There are many layers to him that have not been revealed yet. It’s known that Gwen cares above and beyond about her cases and works herself to death, but Charlie cares too. Charlie may act cocky, but he is way more vulnerable than the audience may know.

GM: I know that you really enjoy being challenged as an actor through each character that you play. What challenges you the most as Charlie?

CK: The legal jargon. I was very intrigued by it and you really have to study hard so that it looks and sounds natural. You must know the laws. Believe it or not, not everyone does. Overall, many people do not always know their rights as a citizen. It has definitely been a fantastic learning experience to get an in-depth look at the justice system. Our show was created by an amazing woman Terri Kopp, who worked for a Legal Aid Society in Manhattan. That makes for rich material and quality script writing to draw upon from her real-life experiences. At the same time, a fair amount of comic relief is added to keep it light so the audience can laugh too.

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Photo: DEAN FOREMAN

GM: Let’s talk the about the chemistry between you and Gwen. They both seem confident. Do you think either one feels “I could have this person in a minute?

CK: Not at all! Both have their guard up. They have a “friends with benefits” relationship and that works for them. There is also a history between them and Charlie is Gwen’s Supervisor. So for now, neither one is ready for a real relationship. I think when Bennet (Gwen’s ex-law professor) enters the picture, Charlie experiences real jealousy and his true feelings for Gwen became much more clear to himself.

GM: It’s always good to leave the audience open to their own interpretation. Yet is there something you would like them to take from the show?

It’s a realistic look at the justice system (with some heightened reality obviously) and it shows you that the system is not on your side. Something needs to change. These characters are fighting to defend the people that do not have the money or high power connections to walk free. Also, I really respect how the characters own their flaws. Gwen does not take care of herself, drinks way too many energy drinks, and has panic attacks. However, it is not hidden. That is a refreshing conceptual approach.

GM: I saw a clip where you were speaking about your “signature style.” You basically said it consisted of studying and preparing so much that you resent it. Then you know you’re ready. Personally, I thought was beautiful. Can you explain? 

CK: I like to be prepared. Overstudy to the point where you can’t look at it again. Then you can play with the material, get creative, and stay on point while still leaving room for some vulnerability of course. I did not come to Los Angeles to party. My goal was to work as an actor and to keep growing creatively. I want to grow in more areas than acting as well. I am currently working on my 3rd album and have written two books.

GM: I enjoy following In Contempt Writer’s Room on Twitter as well as In Contempt BET. It’s great how engaged they are with the audience and it’s always a tweet to look forward to. 

CK: Exactly! BET has been wonderful and went all out for the show. Again, we shoot in Toronto. On the set, they built a real courtroom, which is beautiful and feels like a vintage courtroom. The jail cells are real as well. It only adds to be immersed in the series for the cast and the entire crew.

GM: You also play Michael (an Archangel from the Apocalypse World) on Supernatural on CWTV (http://www.cwtv.com). You debuted in the 13th season. How do you juggle it all?

CK: Well, it definitely takes a team and I have a good one. Again, it also consists of many hours of preparation, the right balance, and taking care of yourself. If I have a premiere, I will not be the last one to leave.

When you do stop for a second, what do you do for fun? 

CK: I actually consider myself a nerd but I like to stay active. I enjoy concerts, hiking, and going to museums. I especially enjoy spending time with my son. Supernatural is shot in Vancouver, British Columbia and In Contempt is shot in Toronto so a lot of traveling is involved. So when I’m in LA, I enjoy exploring the city.

GM: Do you have a legal drama that you enjoy watching?

CK: Law and Order! The writing, acting and directing is so high quality. Also, the show has stayed true to its format (even though many characters have come and gone). There is that constant thread of authenticity. There is something to be said for that consistency.

GM: Tell us about your role in the nonprofit organization, Great Beginnings.

CK:  Great Beginnings is an organization that provides support for foster children. I actually grew up in the foster system. It was not easy but I do not define myself by my past.  I genuinely enjoy giving back to organizations like these that mean so much. With Great Beginnings, we get together and spend an afternoon with the kids just having fun. It’s a blast. Last time, we went to see Black Panther and it was a great experience.  Anytime I have the opportunity to give back, it is something that I cherish.

GM: Do you feel there will be a season 2? I know the audience wants one.

CK: I definitely hope so. The fan feedback has been wonderful. BET has been great and super supportive. I want to say we are headed in that direction but can’t just yet.

What is Charlie Riggs up to tonight? You must watch!! In Contempt in on every Tuesday at 10pm/9C on BET. Do not miss it! I thank Christian Keyes for taking the time to speak with us.

You can keep up with Christian on social media through the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/ActorChristianKeyes/

https://www.instagram.com/christiankeyes/

https://www.twitter.com/ChristianKeyes

https://www.twitter.com/InContemptRoom

https://www.twitter.com/InContemptBET