Film Courage: What’s your advice for another actor where maybe they don’t have formal training, but know they really want to do this? What would you advise them? What would they be Googling?
LaKeith Stanfield: I don’t know? Now there is probably 900 pages when I Googled acting, probably 9 million now. So there’s much more to weed from. Much more opportunity to get caught up in different things.
I would say stay in school, stay diligent, go through high school, go through college, and try to look through opportunities after having sort of learned all you can learn and situate yourself and be comfortable before you get into acting. Know that there is something else that you could be doing. Know that you have a back-up plan because this is a very difficult, tough game to get into. And it’s tough to maintain even once you’re in. It’s not like just because you booked something you are going to be working forever. So you always have to keep that hustle up and continue to look for new avenues and know that if this doesn’t work, you’ve got something else in the back and if that doesn’t work, you’ve got something else. You have other alternatives, as well.
And don’t focus all of your energy on acting would be my thing.
Film Courage: Did you ever feel pushback from people, even from other actors who maybe were classically trained and they saw you booking more work and were like “Well, you didn’t try this technique…” And you could feel that, maybe it wasn’t even spoken?
LaKeith Stanfield: Oh yeah. Totally. It wasn’t spoken and it was spoken in certain parts. But everybody’s got their particular route. One thing I think is important to being an actor is always keep an open mind, always be willing to learn, and don’t reach a point where you feel like ‘I’ve learned enough and now I don’t need to know anything else.’ Because your talent will take you so far, but you need to be constantly trying to develop skills and learning how to access these characters and analyze these stories and tell them in the most authentic way. And while your talent will take you a long way, it won’t take you to the heights that you want to go because there’s a cap, a moment where you’re like “Well, this is just about my talent.” You need to constantly stretch yourself, travel, meet new people, engage in new experiences (fearlessly) and sort of download that information into creating what you want to create.
Every role is different, so what may work for one role, may not work for another and vice versa. So sometimes your talent will be great for a certain role and then for another role you have to reach outside the boundaries of your natural talent in order to tap into it.
Those are things that I find the most rewarding and the most difficult and they cause me to have to get studious and learn all of these things, you know? And get into these different lifestyles and understanding.
So always keep an open mind and I think you can explore and do whatever you need to do. And realize, remember this game is not a competition. It seems like a competition, but it’s not. The only person you’re in competition with is yourself. If you think you can’t do a certain thing, you can’t. If you think you can, you can. You’ve just got to push yourself.
How I Used Google To Break Into Hollywood by LaKeith Stanfield
Film Courage: LaKeith, I understand you used Google searches to help you break into acting?
LaKeith Stanfield: Yeah. I just got out of high school, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Well…I kind of knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to act in some capacity. So I started Googling acting schools, acting stuff, anything that encompassed acting, trying to find some channel in. So I just Googled everything and pages and pages of things popped up and I just filled everything out. Eventually people started answering. A lot of those were scams and things and I would ultimately end up wasting my time on going back and forth from Los Angeles to Victorville (CA), scrambling up change. One time there was a school for modeling…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
In the spring of 1980, a teenager is gunned down in the streets of Flatbush, Brooklyn. The police pressure a child witness to identify a suspect. As a result, Colin Warner, an 18-year-old kid from nearby Crown Heights, is wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Colin’s childhood friend Carl ‘KC’ King devotes his life to fighting for Colin’s freedom. He works on appeals, takes loans for lawyer fees and becomes a legal courier to learn the court system. This incredible true story is based on the acclaimed This American Life piece and adapted by writer/director Matt Ruskin, with Lakeith Stanfield playing Colin Warner and Nnamdi Asomugha as Carl King. In select theaters August 18.
Nnamdi Asomugha – From Football Star To Acting Star [FULL INTERVIEW]
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