What inspired you to become an actor?
Being a child. Most children are not confined to the rules and regulations of reality. Actors train for years to do what the mind of a child does effortlessly. We lose much of that as we get older. Being an actor allows me to play again and escape from the barriers we adults have created. The mind of the artist, like the child, is limitless and that is how I view my craft. I am an artist with the ability to perform. I played sports all the way to two sports in college. Acting, especially theater, is the closest adrenaline rush I have next to it. It’s also really cool to see yourself on the screen [smiles].
What actors do you study for style and character?
I don’t study other actors for style or character because that belongs to them. I am Troy Pryor and no one else can be a better Troy than me. Likewise, I would never try to be them. As an actor-producer, I do admire these five gentlemen and would love the opportunity to work with them: Denzel Washington, Will Smith, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Hopefully, they’re reading this!
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
I love it.
How did you determine your career path?
I come from a family of ministers and started public speaking when I was 13 so I was comfortable in front of crowds. That gave me the confidence to try performing and one day I worked as background on the Tyler Perry film, Daddy’s Little Girls. The next day I had a meeting with Mr. Perry and he explained I could have future in the business, but I declined to continue my degree program and pursue my football career. He respected that and explained education was extremely important, so I went back completed my degree, even took an acting class, finished college football, and spoke at my graduation. The seed had been planted; so when I came back to Chicago, I dropped about 60 pounds, signed with Elite Model Management, did runway — yeah, a former 250-pound college linebacker, was now on the runway. Each agent led to another, several acting programs and eventually I was represented by an agent for TV, film, theater, voice-over, print and runway. Eventually my creative desire grew stronger and I began creating my own content. Instead of waiting for my phone to ring with an opportunity, I made them myself. Now I run a production company focusing on film and commercial, founded a production network in Chicago called Creative Cypher, launch a Web station this October, in addition to performing. As I answer these questions I have one more show for a tour I was cast in, two voice-over commercials running and three other spots about to air. As soon as I leave the stage or the camera, I go back to producer mode. I am also the youngest elected board member of the SAG-AFTRA Chicago. I would imagine that if I ever get the chance to meet Tyler Perry again, our conversation would be much different. Hopefully, you’re reading this Mr. Perry.
What other industries connect to your career choice?
The media and entertainment industry is so vast that it can encompass a multitude of different industries. Most of the people working on projects are not actors. They are talented artists in their own professions that support the projects from behind the scenes. Writers, producers, directors, camera operators, make up, wardrobe, carpenters, electricians, lawyers, accountants, agents, casting directors, craft services, journalists, broadcasters, ad agencies, advertisers, networks, hey … this list can go on for pages. Large productions can provide many jobs can boost a local economy!
Describe the skill sets that are essential to future business leaders and innovators?
No matter how fast technology develops and grows, we will always need the ability to build fruitful relationships. The way we treat each other will take us much further than many other skills. From that everything else can fall in place. Sure, you’ll need skills specific to your field but what good is having a lot of skills if you can’t work with others?
Define innovative methods you apply to acting.
You should always look for ways to do things better but it’s also wise to pay attention to what already works. I am a student of the game and will always be that so my goal is to be ever observant. Often times we’re in such a rush that we don’t see the answers right in front of our faces. This is one moment of clarity that lead to establishing my own production company. I am an actor, who is constantly learning how to create opportunities to preform. The more savvy I am with producing, contract negotiation, leveraging resources, and surrounding myself with the right people the more opportunities I have to perform. You have to be a great talent scout. Many of the projects I’ve been in front of the camera or on stage with were because I was already working behind the scene developing it.
How do you set goals and evaluate your success?
I write everything down! I mean everything. From my daily goals to weekly, monthly, and long term, it’s written in an organized fashion to be a constant reminder of what I want. It definitely keeps me on track because the likelihood of distractions is extremely high. To evaluate, I simply see if I hit my mark like I planned. I take note of what did and didn’t work, then reformat my game plan. After that I’m much sharper and full speed ahead.
Who do you consider peers in your field? Who is setting a great example of best practices?
It’s such a breath of fresh air to speak the same language with them. This is a very difficult industry. I’ll say that again this stuff is hard! As performers we go through an unnatural amount of rejection, have to soak it in, learn, and got about our day like nothing happened. The average person would go crazy, and has. It’s like waking up everyday unemployed, having to interview for a job over and over again until you get hired, only to work for a moment and then start the interview process over again. Much of this is the same for content creators, who have stacks of scripts, notebooks full of ideas, and balled up sheets of paper on floor. We must become brand builders and not just actors so understanding every level of the business, while perfecting our craft is key. It can be a constant grind but, if you live for it, breath it in every waking moment, and pour your heart into your craft, you are my peers. Great examples are the same guys I mentioned earlier. They not only have the chops but also understand how to market themselves and maintain a strong brand.
Information and increased skill methods you use?
Self-actualization and focus. The most important information one can posses in life is knowledge of self. “Man know thyself” is a phrase that we should all live by. There is power in knowing who you are and what you what out of life. We all have a purpose. Once you discover it, you’ve tapped into a limitless source. Find what you want, set a goal, and execute your plan. Although I have become very good at multitasking my ability to focus is a skill that allows me to succeed. I compare it to that of a heat-seeking missile. Once I’m locked it, it’s wrap. Other than that, I monitor trends, stay in classes, and constantly expand and refine my resources.
Name your favorite role models for success in two industries.
Bruce Lee, Jay Z, Oprah, John H. Johnson, Walt Disney and Muhammad Ali. My fellow Chicago natives, Robert Townsend and Mel Jackson, have been giving me great advice too. Mark Zuckerberg is pretty cool too.
Names four books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others.
The Bible. I grew tired of everyone telling me what it said, so I read it in several versions from cover to cover, along with other text said to have not been included in the modern version. I did the same for the Qur’an and [I’m] working on several other religious texts now.
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. I found an immediate connection with the main character and his journey.
The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene. Knowledge is power and protection.
The Souls of Black Folks, by W.E.B. DuBois
Describe why lifelong learning is important to you?
In order to be a master one must always be a student. I pray that my mind will always be open to learning new ways of thinking and innovative ways of doing things. You never know what you can learn we stop talking and just listen. My great grandfather, Levi Kennedy, an amazing minister, who taught himself the Greek language, was such a proponent of self–education; that there has been college scholarship in his name for over 30 years. His influence has had an amazing impact on my family and many others. If you interview some of my other family members, you may not want to use my interview, but I’ll take this one for now.
Describe the voice of success that you hear in your head.
I am a figment of my own imagination … if you can figure that out, then we can rock!
Technology plays what role in your daily life?
It’s a blessing and a burden. Technology allows me to be exceptionally efficient and stay connected to the world. It also means, I’m glued to my devices at times, which can be draining. I will always be plugged in but it’s good to disconnect at times.
What technology tools have made the biggest difference in your life.
My i-Phone. It’s my mobile office, assistant, notebook, computer, and stereo +! With the addition of my wireless Bluetooth Beats, I’m set.
How does music define your self-identity?
Music is extremely important in my life. I don’t go a day without listening to my music, especially when I’m training. I’ve been athlete for so long and the right music can help take me to another level. I wish I could sing like many of my family members, though. I’ve had family on Apollo and get record deals, so they win on that front.
Define your personal culture?
I’m an introvert, who has learned how to excel as an extrovert in fast-paced world. Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m quiet and very reserved, but when it’s time, I can flip the switch. My motto is “observe, adapt, and conquer,” which you will find on many of my logos. I’m me and try to remain true to that. Not sure how else to define it. And yes, I am from the South Side of Chicago!
Your favorite vacation spot?
Somewhere peaceful and tranquil. I have learned to appreciate the beauty of stillness through viewing much turmoil. I’d also love a place where I can learn something new. I’d love to walk on the moon one day.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Hate. As a human race we have created so many amazing things but because of ignorance, fear, and hatred we cannot always enjoy those blessings. My dream is that we can all party together!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
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