Actor Keith David is a True Entertainer

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Keith David is more than an actor.  He is truly, a Jack-of-all-Trades.  The 54-year-old performer has been doing so since his diaper days, as well as on-stage work, and voice-acting for a number of films and video games.  His latest role is as the Circus-Ringleader and magician Max Milini, who plays mentor to lead role Vince Faraday in the NBC series The Cape.
Debuting January 9th, The Cape will join the lengthy list of credits that David has on his résumé, which also includes singing, as he prepares to release a Jazz/Hip-Hop album this year.
Parlé caught up with this man on a mission for a talk on the new show, his acting and music careers, and the representation of Blacks in today’s film industry…
PARLÉ: I know you have a lot of acting experience, how did you get involved with The Cape?
I was called in for an audition, and I took it.  I found the script fascinating.
PARLÉ: What did you find most fascinating about the script?  What stood out to you?
I enjoy stories about bonding, great male bonding.  What stood out was how much Vince Faraday, the main character, loves his son and makes sure that he knows one man can make a difference.  Max Milini is a guy that wants to make a difference.  That line, while reading the script, is what stuck out to me.  I have a son, and I want him to know the same thing…
PARLÉ: That’s very cool, interesting…How do you think the public will receive the show once it’s up and running?
They will love it!  That’s what I thought when I read it. I thought, “What’s not to like?”  It has action, adventure, female empowerment; Orwell is a female character with that representation for women.  She stands up for what she believes in, goes after what she wants.  Vince’s wife is very protective; a lawyer fighting to see his name cleared with her work.  He’s been betrayed and framed, very, very well I might add.  Everyone thinks he’s Chess, a multi-millionaire, with the resources to make people think Vince has committed the crimes.
PARLÉ: Cool, cool.  Unfair, but cool…How does your character, relate or reflect off of you in real-life?
Max is a magician, a thief, a showman.  He is a Jack-of-all-Trades.  His experience as a circus ringleader has taken him all over the world, training others in magic and the sorts.  He’s similar to Ira Aldridge [1807-1867] in that sense, one of the famous Black actors who traveled all around Europe, performing and apprenticing magicians through his town, pushing them on.  I see something similar in myself, on-screen as I help The Cape, and off-screen as myself.  I have always been fascinated with magic and slight-of-hand
PARLÉ: Is there a specific trick that you’ve always wanted to try out?
Ah, just a couple of card tricks here and there…
PARLÉ: That’s interesting.  You’re really a Jack-of-all-Trades yourself!  But, with your role as a mentor to Vince, do you guys sometimes get into it with each other?
As with allllll fathers and sons, sometimes you butt heads.  But as long as everything is dealt with respectfully; that’s the main thing!
PARLÉ: Being an actor must be a demanding job.  Series wise, how time-consuming is it?
That’s a very, odd question because…it depends really.  If it’s a half-hour series, an hour…for the actor specifically it depends on the load of the character, but being an actor is a 24-hour job.  You also have people working backstage, writing, editing; I get to see the ultimate collaboration that has to happen.  The ultimate collectivity it takes to make a series work.  But to complete an episode, wholly, it may take from 8-10 days
PARLÉ: Oh, man…We’ve spoke about your extensive film history.  What are the main differences between being on-screen in a film and in a series?
The timing.  With movies, depending on the budget, you may have more time to film, or less time to film.  Everything is done on a budget, there’s a certain amount which allows you to do things in a specific amount of time.
PARLÉ: And the work may not come out as well if it’s rushed, correct?
Definitely, definitely.   And with a series, you have an allotted amount of time to complete a project.
PARLÉ:  Switching topics a bit, before we spoil the show, can you tell me a little about your background in acting?  I know you’ve been in over 150 films!  How long have you been acting to start off?
I have been acting my whollllle life.  I knew I wanted to be an actor since I was about 2-years-old.
PARLÉ: No way!
[Silence] Yes sir.
PARLÉ: Wow…
People have callings, plain and simple.  Early on I did want to be a minister, until I discovered that I could play a minister.  Acting is a calling for me, it’s not a vocation.
PARLÉ: Hmm…And how about experiences, what were some of your favorites, up to this point?  Or favorite people to work with?
I have met some wonderful people.  A dear friend of mine, Ruben Santiago-Hudson is one of them.  We’ve collaborated on Broadway shows.  It’s always a pleasure working with him.
PARLÉ: Any high points and/or low points?
The high points are when I’m working, acting.
PARLÉ: …And when you’re away from the screen or the stage; your work, that’s when your low points take place…
No, because I’m also a singer.  When I’m not acting, it gives me more time to focus on that aspect of my life.
PARLÉ: And how long have you been singing for?
I was a singer before I was an actor!  My grandfather had a social club where I’d perform for troops at that age.
PARLÉ: Did you have a specific song that you enjoyed singing then?  Any influences in that arena?
Nat King Cole.  Nat King Cole is my hero.  I enjoy doing a Valentine’s Day tribute to him around the time of the holiday.  As far as the songs I liked to perform, well…California Here I Come, and –singing- When the red, red robin comes bob-bob-bobbin alonggg…
PARLÉ: Hahaha, that’s great, really!  How about instruments?  Play any?
No! No instruments….although, I am attempting to learn to play a guitar.  Ruben plays, and he also plays a mean, mean harmonica man.
PARLÉ: I’d imagine when you two do get together, it’s a great duo.
Yeah, it is.  It’s good blues…
PARLÉ: Is that your favorite genre of music?
Blues?  Naw, I wouldn’t say so, I’m mostly a Jazz man, but they are very, very closely related.
PARLÉ: I also understand that you have a band with an album coming out this year.  Will you guys be touring anytime soon?
Maybe on my down time.  Last year I sang with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.
PARLÉ: I also wanted to ask you how you feel about Blacks and their representation in film; their portrayal.  Do you think that they’re getting a fair shake?
Do you?
PARLÉ: I do think that we are misrepresented; typecast, in a sense.  I got around to watching Chris Rock’s Good Hair recently, and the scene where he wants to see if he could sell some Black hair really took me.  When he comes into the Korean hair shop with the Black hair in a bag and asks the cashier and owner if he’d like to buy some, the owner’s face was one of disgust, as if to say, “This is terrible!” I think that that’s a small vein in relation to what goes on today, in film, and the job market in general.  But, you have an owl’s-eye view on the topic!
Yeah, everyone has their prejudices and opinions.  Have we made progress?  Yes.  Is the work finished?  No.  But it’s up to us, not to be stereotypical.  I’m lucky enough to not be placed in a position where my character was a specific kind of way because I am Black.  I can’t really speak on the circumstances of other actors. But, I think from a racial aspect, I think that there is a want of a more eclectic representation.
PARLÉ: Have you ever felt like you were being typecast for a role?
Of course!  People call me into playa certain character all the time.  But the thing that people don’t realize is that actors typecast themselves.  If you’re called in to do a specific role a number of times, and you agree to it, then, well, you’re typecasting yourself.  I have tried to make my career so that every role I choose is different from the last…
PARLÉ: Yeah, that’s very, very understandable.  Well, do you have any last words for the people preparing for the show?
Watch it! And stay tuned in every week!!
PARLÉ: Haha…Well, it’s truly been a pleasure Mr. David.  I wish you the best of luck with the show, and your future projects…
Thank you.

Keith David is more than an actor.  He is truly, a Jack-of-all-Trades.  The 54-year-old performer has been doing so since his diaper days, as well as on-stage work, and voice-acting for a number of films and video games.  David has a lengthy résumé that includes film, television and music.  Parlé caught up with this man on a mission for a talk on  his acting and music careers, and the representation of Blacks in today’s film industry…

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Parlé:  Being an actor must be a demanding job.  Series wise, how time-consuming is it?
Keith David:  That’s a very, odd question because…it depends really.  If it’s a half-hour series, an hour…for the actor specifically it depends on the load of the character, but being an actor is a 24-hour job.  You also have people working backstage, writing, editing; I get to see the ultimate collaboration that has to happen.  The ultimate collectivity it takes to make a series work.  But to complete an episode, wholly, it may take from 8-10 days

Parlé:   Oh, man…We’ve spoke about your extensive film history.  What are the main differences between being on-screen in a film and in a series?
Keith David:  The timing.  With movies, depending on the budget, you may have more time to film, or less time to film.  Everything is done on a budget, there’s a certain amount which allows you to do things in a specific amount of time.

Parlé:   And the work may not come out as well if it’s rushed, correct?
Keith David:  Definitely, definitely.   And with a series, you have an allotted amount of time to complete a project.

Parlé:  Switching topics a bit, before we spoil the show, can you tell me a little about your background in acting?  I know you’ve been in over 150 films!  How long have you been acting to start off?
Keith David:  I have been acting my whollllle life.  I knew I wanted to be an actor since I was about 2-years-old.

Parlé:  No way! [Silence]
Keith David:  Yes sir.

Parlé:  Wow…
Keith David:  People have callings, plain and simple.  Early on I did want to be a minister, until I discovered that I could play a minister.  Acting is a calling for me, it’s not a vocation.

Parlé:  Hmm…And how about experiences, what were some of your favorites, up to this point?  Or favorite people to work with?
Keith David:  I have met some wonderful people.  A dear friend of mine, Ruben Santiago-Hudson is one of them.  We’ve collaborated on Broadway shows.  It’s always a pleasure working with him.

Parlé:  Any high points and/or low points?
Keith David:  The high points are when I’m working, acting.

Parlé:  …And when you’re away from the screen or the stage; your work, that’s when your low points take place…
Keith David:  No, because I’m also a singer.  When I’m not acting, it gives me more time to focus on that aspect of my life.

Parlé:  And how long have you been singing for?
Keith David:  I was a singer before I was an actor!  My grandfather had a social club where I’d perform for troops at that age.

Parlé:  Did you have a specific song that you enjoyed singing then?  Any influences in that arena?
Keith David:  Nat King Cole.  Nat King Cole is my hero.  I enjoy doing a Valentine’s Day tribute to him around the time of the holiday.  As far as the songs I liked to perform, well…California Here I Come, and –singing- When the red, red robin comes bob-bob-bobbin alonggg…

Parlé:  Hahaha, that’s great, really!  How about instruments?  Play any?
Keith David:  No! No instruments….although, I am attempting to learn to play a guitar.  Ruben plays, and he also plays a mean, mean harmonica man.

Parlé:  I’d imagine when you two do get together, it’s a great duo.
Keith David:  Yeah, it is.  It’s good blues…

Parlé:  Is that your favorite genre of music? Blues?
Keith David:  Naw, I wouldn’t say so, I’m mostly a Jazz man, but they are very, very closely related.

Parlé:  I also understand that you have a band with an album coming out this year.  Will you guys be touring anytime soon?
Keith David:  Maybe on my down time.  Last year I sang with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.

Parlé:  I also wanted to ask you how you feel about Blacks and their representation in film; their portrayal.  Do you think that they’re getting a fair shake?
Keith David:  Do you?

Parlé: : I do think that we are misrepresented; typecast, in a sense.  I got around to watching Chris Rock’s Good Hair recently, and the scene where he wants to see if he could sell some Black hair really took me.  When he comes into the Korean hair shop with the Black hair in a bag and asks the cashier and owner if he’d like to buy some, the owner’s face was one of disgust, as if to say, “This is terrible!” I think that that’s a small vein in relation to what goes on today, in film, and the job market in general.  But, you have an owl’s-eye view on the topic!
Keith David:  Yeah, everyone has their prejudices and opinions.  Have we made progress?  Yes.  Is the work finished?  No.  But it’s up to us, not to be stereotypical.  I’m lucky enough to not be placed in a position where my character was a specific kind of way because I am Black.  I can’t really speak on the circumstances of other actors. But, I think from a racial aspect, I think that there is a want of a more eclectic representation.

Parlé:  Have you ever felt like you were being typecast for a role?
Keith David:  Of course!  People call me into play a certain character all the time.  But the thing that people don’t realize is that actors typecast themselves.  If you’re called in to do a specific role a number of times, and you agree to it, then, well, you’re typecasting yourself.  I have tried to make my career so that every role I choose is different from the last…

Parlé Magazine: I know you have a lot of acting experience, how did you get involved with The Cape?
Keith David:  I was called in for an audition, and I took it.  I found the script fascinating.

Parlé:  What did you find most fascinating about the script?  What stood out to you?
Keith David:  I enjoy stories about bonding, great male bonding.  What stood out was how much Vince Faraday, the main character, loves his son and makes sure that he knows one man can make a difference.  Max Milini is a guy that wants to make a difference.  That line, while reading the script, is what stuck out to me.  I have a son, and I want him to know the same thing…

Parlé:  That’s very cool, interesting…How do you think the public will receive the show once it’s up and running?
Keith David:  They will love it!  That’s what I thought when I read it. I thought, “What’s not to like?”  It has action, adventure, female empowerment; Orwell is a female character with that representation for women.  She stands up for what she believes in, goes after what she wants.  Vince’s wife is very protective; a lawyer fighting to see his name cleared with her work.  He’s been betrayed and framed, very, very well I might add.  Everyone thinks he’s Chess, a multi-millionaire, with the resources to make people think Vince has committed the crimes.

Parlé:  Cool, cool.  Unfair, but cool…How does your character, relate or reflect off of you in real-life?
Keith David:  Max is a magician, a thief, a showman.  He is a Jack-of-all-Trades.  His experience as a circus ringleader has taken him all over the world, training others in magic and the sorts.  He’s similar to Ira Aldridge [1807-1867] in that sense, one of the famous Black actors who traveled all around Europe, performing and apprenticing magicians through his town, pushing them on.  I see something similar in myself, on-screen as I help The Cape, and off-screen as myself.  I have always been fascinated with magic and slight-of-hand

Parlé:  Is there a specific trick that you’ve always wanted to try out?
Keith David:  Ah, just a couple of card tricks here and there…

Parlé:   That’s interesting.  You’re really a Jack-of-all-Trades yourself!  But, with your role as a mentor to Vince, do you guys sometimes get into it with each other?
Keith David:  As with allllll fathers and sons, sometimes you butt heads.  But as long as everything is dealt with respectfully; that’s the main thing!

Parlé:  Haha…Well, it’s truly been a pleasure Mr. David.  I wish you the best of luck with the show, and your future projects…
Keith David:  Thank you.


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