Mustafa Speaks is an actor, writer and producer. Speaks is best known for his role as Messiah in Netflix’s hit limited series, “Seven Seconds,” and as Kevin Gaines in USA’s hit series, “Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.” He also plays Nate Romanowski on the Paramount+ series “Joe Pickett,” and he created, wrote, produced and starred in the series “Shadowboxing – Round 1,” which was just accepted into the American Black Film Festival. If that wasn’t enough Speaks has a recurring role as Kenny Boone on The CW series “All American.”
How did you ready yourself to transition to the role of Nate Romanowski?
It was a lot of preparation … of getting into the space of this guy who is a loner, he’s a survivalist, so he’s only doing his thing by himself. I also had to do a lot of preparation with nature and working with birds. I had a chance to learn about falconry, and I had to master it. I didn’t know this before, but falconry is an ancient sport. Back in Africa, they used to do a lot of this stuff, including in Arab nations.
Learning about the history of falconry and learning the art and the practice of falconry was beautiful. I got to horseback ride, do a little more fight choreography, and do a lot of weapons training, stuff that I love to do. More importantly, I was able to get into the psyche of a man like Nate Romanowski and understand what it is for him to be in this world and form a bond with someone like Joe Pickett. It was really fun to explore.
What led to you to write, produce, and star in “Shadowboxing-Round 1”?
I knew that I had to make things happen and I wasn’t going to keep waiting for a “yes” or a green light. I knew I needed to understand the craft of writing, understand the craft of storytelling, and understand the craft of making things happen. I knew if I wanted to be in a particular position, and I wanted to tell certain types of stories, I needed to own it all and then do it.
With “Shadowboxing-Round 1,” I wanted to tell a story that resonated with me and that I believed in. Then we learn how to write that, and then we [had to] get the people to help execute that vision. I was able to do that, and I was able to do it pretty successfully, which helped get the attention of the American Black Film Festival.