Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelvin Taylor.
Kelvin Taylor is an American Actor Of the International Emmy Nominted film The Golden Hour, Spartacus, Power Rangers, Ash vs Evil Dead, The Shannara Chronicles, James Patterson’s Murder Is Forever & most recently Dick Wolf’s License To Kill.
An acting student of Michael Saccenté, Acting coach of Karl Urban (Thor: Ragnorok, Star Trek, The Born Suprimacy) and Antony Starr (Banshee, American Gothic, The Boys), he now sets his eyes on new territory returning from Asia-Pacific to the Los Angeles sunny shores.
Having recently joined SAG-AFTRA it appears the world is his oyster but his ship has sailed into challenging circumstances only a true international can understand to endure. This is his story.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My mother Rhonda Clark was single mother who was orphaned and thus becoming devote Christian as most African Americans were. My father Kelvin Pitmman was street hustler lost in the influx of Reganomics and the CIA ushering in drugs into the African American community. I was birthed in suspension of chaos that was Urban America at the time and yet found theater as a child amazing. Elementary school is where my love for acting began seeing my twin sister Princess was cast as Cinderella and I myself cast as the Gingerbread Man.
From age 1, I stayed in a Neighbourhood known as Stuart Gardens in Newport News, Virginia til age 11. At age 5, the sky looked like it rained needles and syringes which were riddled all throughout the surrounding government welfare-issued apartment complex. Distinctly remembering a girl in elementary getting AIDS from a needle she stepped on, to a kid in my class family being killed after my family walked me home from school the opposite direction after saying “See you tomorrow”. The area had us dropping on the ground because of gunshots constantly, to a man beaten to death with baseball bats with nails driven through it outside our front porch. Then saw a complex worker cleaning the blood off of our front door & I was numb to what had just happened the night before.
Living in Section 8 housing & welfare as child, my mother gave us great vivid imaginations regarding story telling. Children’s bible books served as a form of escapism. Between a combination of living at the height of the supposed War On Drugs, supposed War on Poverty & the AIDS epidemic, movies in home served as a world away from the chaos outside. The only time I felt safe outside was with my brothers & sisters or seeing Allen Iverson play basketball living in the same neighbourhood before he left to College & the NBA.
One thing I’ll never forget as a child was seeing my cousin hiding drugs in the light above my bed. The next day he comes into our house bleeding out from being jumped and stabbed. My mother grabbed her gun from under her mattress, left her machete and stormed outside asking with the gun pointing who jumped my cousin. She was tough as nails and made me equally resilient. My father also being a distributor and user, helped push me away from any interest in any form of drug narcotics or substance abuse.
My family moved often a little afterwards and settling the longest in Virginia Beach, which was our little Los Angeles in our minds. From high school onwards, I was trickled into improve theater seeing creatives in school like Jay Pharoah. Later I’d see actor Michael Copon of Power Rangers Time Force visit one of the many High Schools I attended in and around Virginia Beach. My uncle who worked on and off Broadway Mike Walker was always a eccentric uplift & watching my uncle and former KTLA news anchor Dave Clark on Scream 2, X-Men and the West Wing certainly moved me.
Ultimately, it would take a modeling start in 2005 with Glamour Modeling Agency. Followed by a trip to Australia in 2008 from friends I made on MySpace to build my confidence even more. I ended up in New Zealand a couple years later which help me find my niche and bring acting into fruition. A model dropped me her agents details my 1st day in New Zealand & I was signed the following day. I picked a desk job & lost it in under 2 months at a telecommunications company 2 months after I arrived while pushing sales wasn’t just the tipping point. Human Resources at the company overhearing my tearful conversations due to a recent heartbreak made me re-access what’s worth working towards. I put all the money I had left after bank transfers to an ex ..onto some headshots. I also decided to take seriously the commercial agent that wanted to sign me. Since then, I’ve booked multiple international commercials, principle and guest roles on American TV Series shot in or around New Zealand. Being cast as Malcolm X in American Playboy The Hugh Hefner Story was excited and wrenching at the same time bc they opted to use archived footage for all the African American characters. But the true defining moment was after attending the International Emmys, something some actors never get to experience in a lifetime.
Moving to Los Angeles was spontaneous last minute decision. I was sitting in Auckland, New Zealand and circumstances timing wise aligned that it felt like now or never. The universe played a practical joke on me that it made sense. I had reached a point in my career that I stopped questioning my readiness. I signed up to LA Casting prior to departing and did some research on buying a car or apartment in which order. I showed up with just my Australian management and plan to hit the ground running dropping into Central Casting the next day. I arrived April 1st and by May 15, I had 3 SAG Vouchers.
I’ve become apart of SAG-AFTRA recently, pulled a new team with agents and managers and only upward from here. I’m thankful I’ve had so much work here that I do not know where to begin to explain how fortunate my life has been. It’s certainly been a movie of sorts that’s led me here in LA. I recently booked a series for Adult Swim that will be revealed soon enough. But to be honest, I couldn’t be more happy with my take and time here.
Since being in Los Angeles what I love most is, that is also super endearing, is that everybody is willing to help everybody. Being in an artistic hub and city built on dreams (By the mafia might I add, lol) ..an idea can put you in Hollywood Hills or Calabasas overnight. Yes, people can have their own agenda and rightfully so. If they scratch your back, perhaps someday they would hope the same. However, I prefer people being willing to help with this spirit and creative willingness believing in themselves as much as believing in you. I’d take that any day over an this environment that can be creatively daunting preferring you lower your joy, so you suit someone else’s lack of self-worth or people will band together to attempt to hinder your progress in insecurity.
New Zealand as beautiful of a place, but it’s still a new country overcoming societal issues and actually doing their best to face them. With acting, some people society wise feel there is not enough light for everyone. For a country that is an island, it’s to be expected that along with a sense of community, you will find equally the amount of doubt you would find in a small town in middle America. An unnamed New Zealand actress at the time who I had a very brief romantic involvement with years ago, asked for our mutual NZ agent not to help me. I had no knowledge of this at the time and surely enough my NZ agent backed out on bridging agents as she had promised. When I asked her about it her backing out, she said your market is the US and it’s good you are heading there, saying that there was no place for in the New Zealand market despite having a residency there for 8 years. Two unconnected sources shared the truth about this later on to my surprise of what really happened. Generally speaking, some agents abroad have another agent they liaise with in Los Angeles, sharing books and representation. So I came to LA with no help but a massive portfolio some would give their left arm for & it helped tremendously.
People fear what you are becoming in environments where people feel “I know you”. It’s the reason why most HipHop artist are killed in their own city. If you move to Canada, Tulsa Oklahoma or Japan ..people can not dislike you bc they do not know you. Strangers are always the people that are gonna get you were you want to go, they meet you with fresh eyes. They have no judgement of a past or idea of a version of you they heard from a blah blah blah. Relatives, “friends”, ex’s or people who feel would support you, generally are prone to supporting you the least. Most of your current doubters or enemies in life are people you once genuinely tried to do good by, if people had the heart to understand this. Their mind can very well be stuck in time capsule in 2009 respect wise. Some see your progression but are afraid to acknowledge it if they feel they can not benefit from it now, on a personal level. It will remind them although you both were in the same 3rd grade class room or seen you when you had not much, that they do not have the same hustle as you. It highlights things they lack and they despise you for it if they are unable to see our paths are individual and are not to be compared. Accountability, which is a hard word for adults to accept and the lack thereof for the choices we can have, makes or breaks most.
My favourite films til this day are Hackers, Breakin 1 & 2, Gleeming the Cube, Airborne, The Fast and The Furious Series. Anything that was multi-ethnic just always gravitated towards me. Most of these films had a Los Angeles setting that displayed a sense of hope for a utopian paradise. These films also are cult classics that started cultural movements, whether that’s Hacking, Breakdancing, Skateboarding or Street Racing. I was birthed in American urban subculture and I saw allot of diverse humanity in those films that was truly reflective of the earth I saw as a child. Children are not born prejudice, they are taught that. A child’s eyes that are pure without the “Johann Freidrich Blumenbach” European assigned colorgrading that’s passed down out of poor knowledge of its origins. A dismissive color categorisation tendency that plagues not only America, but most of the world til this day.
Cinema with Film and Television internationally is littered with colonisation of who gets seen from European influence. From Brazil, Bollywood, Spanish Tele novas and some Asian films hesitant to put their native stories and people who’s pigmentations is darker on the forefront. My goal as an actor is preferably to utilise my talent to help de-colonise television screens. Speaking of, there is a great film about to be released in New Zealand called “Merata: How Mum Decolonised The Screen” in theatres in New Zealand Mother’s Day, May 12 2019. My ultimate goal would be to produce a film on the biggest unacknowledged human rights atrocity with the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
As heart wrenching as some of those stories will will be, the voyage of how Africans ended up in different parts of the world is the exchange of stories we need for humanities growth. Voyaging and trans migration that lead many African Americans in the south to head west to California when they saw little growth in a racially divided area of America. Migration that has many international hopefuls end up here in LA. When a flower does not blossum, you change the environment it is potted in, not the flower.
Thank you Voyage LA for giving me the opportunity to share a bit of my story as selflessly as I can altruistically as this can help another local or foreign national newly to the City of Angels. LA is a beacon of hope for many around the world, people love Dubai but there is nothing like saying you are in LA. I feel for international students and immigrants who come here trying to make it, bc I lived that on the opposite side of the planet. I only hope to offer my story as insight you can come out of a harsh environment and still be grounded, hopeful to surf past the obstacles or trauma’s we all face in some capacity. I love you all for those that are reading this and hopes this hits a soft spot if you are out here trying to make it in LA or the world. Stay just as hopeful, curious and just as imaginative as the same spirit that had you make it here to LA & while others were turned away or may not have the opprotunity. One race, One love.
What were you like growing up?
Oh I was a lightning bolt of energy. My imagination was always bright and I wanted to see every side to that prism. I was excited about the Korean student who joined our class or the Sicilian girl I had a crush on in the back.
I do my best to always keep that bountiful spirit. Children have so much energy bc they have no worries of a past or future ..the live in the moment. As adults we have to relearn being connected and available mindfulness wise to be grateful of what’s in front of us. Being in the moment is what it takes to connect as actors and it resonates with me deeply in how I choose to operate in this life.
My dream is to work within some capacity Vin Diesels production company One Race films, which the name itself is representative of my love for humanity, along with my fingers & eyes crossed New Zealand director Taika Waititi.
- Website: www.kelvintaylor.com
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