MALCOLM DAVID KELLEY TALKS ‘LOST’ ‘MKTO’ & NEW FILM ‘DETROIT’ 188

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.

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LISA LINKE TALKS CURRENT PROJECTS, DREAM ROLES & FUTURE PLANS 31

With roles in Modern Family and This Is Us among others already under her belt, as well as her regular appearances on the webseries Successful People, Lisa Linke has earned herself praise from fans and critics alike in recent years, and earned every positive word that’s been spoken or written about her. While her career shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Lisa to chat first auditions, dream roles and her advice for aspiring actors.

TITL: When did you first realize that you wanted to make performing a career? Was there any particular show or film you watched that made you think: “That’s who I want to be…that’s what I want to do?”

Lisa Linke: I think I realized I wanted to make it a career after I was already living in Chicago, studying improvisation and seeing people perform on stages and actually make a living doing it. I don’t have any artist role models in my family – everyone is business or education (or both) and so the idea of being an artist was really scary and challenging. So, until I saw people doing it and doing work that I found fun and engaging, then I could allow myself to really entertain that as a possibility. I don’t think it was as much as a particular show or film, but more being surrounded with people that I knew and liked and saw them doing this awesome thing.

TITL: Whose careers are you most inspired and influenced by? How do their careers impact your own?

LL: I’m always inspired by people who create their own content. They really take ahold of their own path and just start making art that demonstrates their style and voice. I like doing that. I think whenever anyone makes a successful series that is specific and authentic, it gives permission for everyone else to try and do that, too. And when it’s successful, it shows studios and networks that people are craving that kind of content, so they go looking for it to buy.

TITL: Can you recall your first audition?

LL: Ever? Nope. I always did plays in school growing up. I can remember my audition to join the improv group in grad school, which made me fall in love with improv. I knew nothing about improv, but I’d seen a show in Atlanta before I moved back to Illinois to go to grad school, and I absolutely loved it and wanted to learn how to do it! We did this warm up game and I was so excited, I physically pushed the person next to me, and the woman leading the exercise jumped in and was like “don’t do that”. But in a nice way, because she hadn’t said we couldn’t, and I was legit so excited.

TITL: Which of your auditions are you most proud of and why?

LL: I’m most proud of auditions where I did what I wanted to do in the room. It’s really easy to get thrown off throughout the day, traffic sucks or you can’t find parking, people are rude or it’s hot or you didn’t get the material as early as you wanted or whatever happens – life happens – but your job is to get in the room and deliver. The job is booking the job, and when I do a good job, and get good feedback in the room, or get a pin or check avail or a booking then I feel really good about what I did. I can feel good about what I did in the room even if I get zero feedback, too. I know what I did in the room and what I wanted to do.

TITL: Prior to auditioning for a part, how much research/background do you do in terms of the broadcast company/the show itself/other members of the cast, and do you find that such research helps?

LL: Oh, it helps immensely! You have to know your stuff. You have to know what show you’re going in for – what network it is on, what tone the show has and what the writer has written before. All that stuff just makes your audition more accurate. I didn’t know any of this before I started studying out here in LA, but I am a real research geek now the minute I get an audition.

TITL: You’ve starred in hit shows including This Is Us, Modern Family and the Netflix series LOVE. Of all the roles and characters you’ve played so far, do you have any particular favourites and do you have any fun memories you can share from time on the sets?

LL: Well, Modern Family was really amazing because it was a special day on set. They were on location, and Chris Martin was on set that day. All the crew was kind of twitterpated with him and it was easy to see why – he is literally the nicest person on earth. He was so cool to talk to in the hair/makeup trailer, and then so kind and funny on set. He entertained everyone in between takes with his guitar. Everyone was having a great time! For me, being on This Is Us was amazing because they moved so fast and it was being directed by Ken Olin and I’ve always been a fan of his, from way back in thirtysomething days. So, to see him direct was just fantastic. LOVE was incredible because Nisha Ganatra, the director, loved to improvise and I got to improvise a ton on set. That was wonderful, and to work with Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Ed Beagley, Jr. and Kathy Baker was a total dream! I love working, period. Everything else on top of that is gravy.

TITL: What’s your dream role and which TV show would you most like to star/guest star in? Are there any actors or actresses you really want to work with?

LL: I do comedy and love it, but I watch a ton of drama! I think I’d love to be on something super tense like The Americans or Homeland. I get so hooked watching it and the acting on those shows is amazing. I love working with everyone because I like learning from everyone – but to work with someone who has made their own content, like Melissa McCarthy, Issa Rae, or Amy Schumer would be amazing.

TITL: What made you want to be a part of the web series Successful People, and do you think there will be many other such series being made in the coming years, due to the boom in and power of technology and the internet?

LL: Yes! There are so many series being made right now, it’s so easy to create content on a small scale.  I did the first season because Artie & Theresa – the creators & stars – asked me to, and then when they invited me back with a series regular role for the second season, I was thrilled! That character is seriously the most obnoxious in the world. I loved playing her!

TITL: You’ve won a number of awards including Lead Actress at LAWebfest and overall web series winner at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. How much do accolades like that mean to you, and would you say you’re more of an individual who cares more strongly about what your fans/followers think and that you can and do take on projects you feel passionate about?

LL: Thank you! It’s always nice to take a piece of work you’ve created and have it be recognized. Festivals are a great part of online content life. I like making content I’m proud of and want to do. It’s a lot of work to do – so usually I have to be really interested in the project and want to make it and get it out there in the world, or be asked to work with people that I adore and have a blast working with.

TITL: The entertainment business is cut-throat and competitive. With that in mind, and given your impressive resume, what advice would you give to those just starting out? What three traits would you say people need in order to survive in this fickle industry?

LL: Ah! You’re very kind. I’ve been told that you need two of the following three: luck, talent and perseverance. You can’t work on luck, but you can work on the other two. I say get your butt in a class and stay there! And create your own content.

TITL: Finally then, are there any projects or plans in the pipeline you can tell me about? What’s next for you and what are your goals for the remainder of the year?

LL: Yes! I just released Dog Therapist with my friend Gwen, and it’s a super short web series – all episodes are under a minute! We had a blast and I hope we do some more like it. I have a guest star on a Disney show coming out sometime this spring/summer, so I can’t wait for that to be announced! And of course, I’m creating more content. Do you sense a theme!?

For more information on Lisa Linke, visit her website or you can follow her on Twitter. Header photo credit: Birdie Thompson.

RJ WORD TALKS “WHAT YOU NEED”, SOCIAL MEDIA & HIS DREAM SHOW LINE-UP 35

Having just released the video to his new single “What You Need”, RJ Word is certainly well on his way to making his mark on the music industry. Currently working on a number of singles, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with RJ to chat all things inspiration, ultimate compliments and what he’d most like to be remembered for.

TITL: Has music always been your ambition, or, growing up, did you consider exploring other avenues? Ultimately, who or what made you realise that music was the right path for you?

RJ Word: Growing up I studied music and acting. I still consider myself an actor, it’s just not my primary focus at the moment. Music gives me more freedom to create. A song can be anywhere from 90 seconds to 10 minutes and can be made considerably faster than a film. Also, you just can’t beat that feeling music gives you. There’s nothing like it.

TITL: Which bands and artists are you most influenced and inspired by and is there one in particular you might say you sound similar to?

RJ: Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake have all influenced me a lot, but hopefully I don’t sound too much like any of them.

TITL: Is there a story behind your new track “What You Need”?

RJ: I wanted to make a disco inspired record with some more modern rhythmic elements. We came up with this.

TITL: Are there any EP/album plans in the works, and if so, what can you tell me about how they’re coming along?

RJ: Just working on more singles at the moment, but that’s going really well. I have a couple songs I’m really excited about.

TITL: How easy or hard do you find the song-writing process? Do you find it often depends on the subject matter and other such issues?

RJ: Some days it can be a little tough to get started. But once you’re in the zone it’s just fun, unless you’re writing something about a heartbreak that just happened.

TITL: In your mind, what makes a song truly great and which song would you say is the greatest ever written?

RJ: It’s half lyrics/melody and half production, so both have to be spot on to make an excellent record. The songs that stand out in my memory are the ones that do something different and unconventional. That’s where the magic happens. It’d be impossible for me to name a favorite.

TITL: Do you have any upcoming performance/tour plans?

RJ: Not right now. I’m mostly focusing on writing and recording for the next couple of months.

TITL: If you could perform with three bands or artists, who can be living or dead, who would they be?

RJ: That’s a tough one. Most of my idols are legendary performers and to be up next to them would be really intimidating. But my dream set would be to do a show with MJ and have Quincy Jones conducting a full orchestra live along with us. Depending on if you count the musicians in the orchestra, that’d be way more or one less than 3 acts.

TITL: What has been the nicest thing someone’s written/posted about you and your music and what would the ultimate compliment be?

RJ: When people say online that one of my songs is the best they’re ever heard it’s always nice. But I’m so critical of my work that it’s hard for me to seriously take that to heart. The ultimate compliment would be for someone I really respect in the industry to just say they liked it.

TITL: Both personally and professionally, how do you feel about social media? What impact is it having on your career and your ability to reach an audience, and do you believe it’s possible for upcoming bands and artists today to achieve success without it?

RJ: It’s been amazing tool for me professionally but something I have never used personally. I like my privacy too much. Being able to share my music with the world and grow a fan base, the way I have, can be directly accredited to it. So yeah, it’s very important to me. I think it’s still possible for an upcoming act to blow up without using it directly. But if their fan base is growing they’ll be using socials to talk about them. So at least indirectly it’ll be used. It’s a big part of how the world today communicates.

TITL: Finally then, five-ten years from now, what do you hope to have achieved from your music career? What bucket list items do you want to have ticked off and if you could be remembered for one thing when it comes to your music, what would it be?

RJ: I’d love to have toured the world, have some records I’m really proud of and have worked with some of my idols. I have no clue what I’ll be remembered for yet. At the moment my goal is to make what’s on the radio musical again. Getting away from all the loop based tracks and repetitive samples. I’d be okay with being remembered for that.

Check out the video for “What You Need” below and to keep up to date with RJ Word, visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.