Back in 2004, the world was gripped by a TV show that saw a group of total strangers come together in an effort to survive after finding themselves stranded on an island following a plane crash. That TV show was Lost, and it truly kick-started the career of a young Malcolm David Kelley. Now, more than a decade later and with scores of other TV and film roles under his belt, Kelley is preparing to share his latest project, the film Detroit, with the world.
Based on The Algiers Motel Incident during Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot, a police raid which led to one of the largest citizen uprisings in US history, it’s a hard hitting piece of film-making and testament to just how much Kelley has grown in himself both personally and professionally since first making his first industry appearance aged 5. Here, Kelley chats to ThisIsTheLatest about working with Denzel Washington, his memories of Lost and
TITL: You’ve been a part of the entertainment industry since you were 5 years old and it could be argued that there aren’t many kids who are as ambitious as you were at that age. Do you ever regret getting into the acting world so early or was it something you always knew you wanted to do?
MDK: I was inspired by the kids on TV. I remember it was a McDonald’s commercial that caught my attention, I told my mom I wanted to do it so she found a manager who we took a meeting with and ending up signing with – and is still my manager today. So no, I don’t regret anything it was a great experience and I also didn’t miss out on my childhood.
TITL: You starred alongside Denzel Washington in Antwone Fisher – did he offer/give you any advice about how best to make your way in this ever-competitive industry and what was it like to work so closely with someone who’s regarded as one of the finest actors ever?
MDK: I was so grateful to have the pleasure to work with him. Working and watching him as a director was a great learning and inspiring experience. I didn’t get to speak to him on that but should the opportunity arise again, I will definitely have questions!
TITL: Most people will likely know you for your role of Walt in Lost. What can you recall of your audition for the show and did you ever imagine it’d be as big as it was?
MDK: Playing Walt was a true honor. The Lost fan base is amazing. I remember getting a call about the audition from my team (ESI & AEF). The show was to go out on the ABC network so I did a couple of rounds of auditions and testing for the network. After booking the job, I found myself flying to Oahu, Hawaii for a couple weeks to shoot the pilot. Then we had to see if what we had made was good enough to get picked up for a season, which it turned out to be and the show took off. Working with J.J Abrams and the team was amazing: he had a keen vision and gave that show life.
We did not know it would be something that would have the longevity to see a ten year anniversary and keep growing even now – with streaming, people who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing it before now can. I have a Walt action figure somewhere – I saw it at ComicCon when they had us go. It was a pleasure to work with so many great actors and people while being a part of that show and I learned a lot.
TITL: How did the success of the show impact your career plans/progression?
MDK: It took my career to the next level. I was still fairly young and was on a hit TV show for 2 years portraying a person younger than my actual age. Continuing to work in this industry and still being a young teenager at the time, it still didn’t resonate with me that i was building an uprising track record and a career, i just knew my passion to create and tell stories was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I definitely put in the all different types of work I could including taking acting classes but also just experiencing life I think was important. I was a young man finding myself making a career and sometimes, I realised that I couldn’t do it all on my own, so with my team began planning ahead and a lot of those plans worked out. In the end, getting work in this industry is all about staying persistent and I’m lucky enough to have worked hard, as I continue to do, in order to put my self in positions where opportunities can come my way.
TITL: You’ve appeared in Law & Order: SVU, Glee and Bones among others – any highlights or favourite memories?
MDK: It was a pleasure to be able to work on such great shows. I loved every moment they all were iconic in their own right, but I loved working with Mariska Hargitay on SVU.
TITL: Away from acting, you’re also a performer with your Gigantic co-star Tony Oller as MKTO. For those unfamiliar with your music, what genre would you say you fit into?
MDK: I would say the genre we fit mostly into was and is pop but I obviously brought the rap element to it. We kinda took influence in that sense from BOB & Hayley Williams’ “Airplanes.” We built something great and appreciate all the love and support.
TITL: Which of your songs are you most proud of and why?
MDK: I’m proud of all the songs I’ve gotten to be a part of. Obviously to see “Classic” reach platinum status was amazing. I love the whole first album and the second EP we were able to put out was amazing. Also to have a feature with Ne-Yo on our first album was dope and something I’ll always remember.
TITL: You’re currently on tour – how have the shows been going and are there any plans to bring your music over to Europe?
MDK: We have done press in Europe a couple times. We love Europe and can’t wait to come back and actually perform. I have also taken trips to Europe myself and and I’m excited that my new film, Detroit, directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow, has a U.K. Release so hopefully I can come over there for that.
TITL: If you could play any venue in the world which would it be and why?
MDK: It would have to be the 02 arena in London. That place looks amazing and it’s so iconic; I would love to be on that stage.
MDK: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?
TITL: I’ve another movie due to come out in September and I’m figuring out the next project seeing as how people are now sort of realising I’m back – even though I felt as I never left! Also, there’s new music we want to put out so hopefully that will also be happening very soon.
TITL: To what extent would you say the entertainment industry has changed over the years since you started out and how much of that change do you think is down to the boom in social media? How socially interactive are you as both a person and an actor/musician?
MDK: I think the industry has evolved in a good way, especially with social media; it has created more opportunities to showcase your talents which I think is amazing. I know some people have been frustrated with the rapid rise of social media stars but I love it. To have the control to build your own brand and a fan base and have networks and brands want to buy into your brand just off of your thoughts and creativity is something pretty special. However, everybody has a different story and social media doesn’t work for everyone. I myself try to be as socially active as I can and continue to how to use social media and all it has to offer to my advantage. I think it has been great to have a platform to inform and connect with people that appreciate things I do from acting music producing and other things.
TITL: Finally then, where would you like to see yourself, 5 and then 10 years from now? Are there any career goals you’ve yet to achieve and what would you have to do in order to feel completely fulfilled?
MDK: In the next 5 years I see myself with a lot more knowledge and I want to have directed and produced a couple of projects. Also, I want to still be making music and still being able to tour. I can’t wait to embark on this new chapter in my life. I definitely see some kids with in the ten year part but at the moment, I’m enjoying life and I want to keep working to spread knowledge and, in whatever ways I can, give something back to the community and the kids coming up so that they can have more opportunities.
Check out the trailer for Detroit below and for more information on and to keep up to date with Malcolm David Kelley. follow him on Twitter.