MR. VERSATILE: Expressing himself through music, theatre and film invigorates this rising star.
Whether you saw him showing his tough side in Ghett’a Life or sprinting from the cops in Destiny, Kadeem Wilson’s movie roles seamlessly blend the dramatic with the comedic. The 28-year-old actor, whose theatre credits include this year’s hilarious comedy Undercover Craziness, has secured yet another big-screen job – in the Storm Saulter-directed, Will Smith-produced Sprinter, which premieres next year. In the meantime, this multitalented star (aka Kenzic) is embracing his musical side, promoting singles like “Lion Heart” and “Brand New” and rocking shows like the recent Fashion Directory at Devon House, where he chatted with us about speaking his mind, getting love from the fans, and being a stylish ragamuffin.
TALLAWAH: We know you as a stage and screen actor with a growing body of work. How long have you been nurturing your musical side?
Kadeem Wilson: From I was around eight. That’s when I started writing songs. I had a producer friend in the Mountain View area, who encouraged me to think about a name if I was going to take the music seriously. So I came up with Kenzic, and the name stuck. Everybody knows me by that name now.
TALLAWAH: The audience here at Fashion Directory was certainly feeling your vibe, especially when GiRL joined you on the catwalk to perform “Fly.”
Kadeem Wilson: The encouragement has been great since I started performing on shows. I think I’m getting a lot more notoriety now, and people are telling me to pursue it as a serious career. But I’m doing it in a rogue way. So far I’ve released four singles, and I’m working on an EP right now. People know me as a movie star, so it’s been really encouraging to have them supporting my music.
TALLAWAH: Since you’ve mentioned your acting career, did the success of Undercover Craziness surprise you?
Kadeem Wilson: No, we knew it would do well because the play touches on issues we don’t normally talk about, like mental illness. For the most part, we don’t like to acknowledge it. So when the idea for the play came up, I felt it was something that would entertain people and also give them something to think about. And it did. We played to full houses several nights, and then it was held over. And we’re planning to bring it back, but no date has been set for that.
TALLAWAH: Judging by your stylish outfit and how you worked the stage during your performance earlier, you seem to be embracing your inner fashion fiend. What’s your personal style?
Kadeem Wilson: Simple and effective. I always go for efficiency. I like to be clean and well put-together. I’m a ragamuffin, but a clean ragamuffin. (Laughs).
TALLAWAH: Let’s talk movies. After noteworthy appearances in Ghett’a Life and Destiny, you’re set to return to the big screen next year in Storm Saulter’s much-anticipated feature Sprinter. What can you tell us about the project?
Kadeem Wilson: Oh it’s going to be an epic film. It’s an organic Jamaican story, but some might think it’s another Usain Bolt story because it surrounds Jamaican sprinting. I play a sprinter in the movie, and it was a wonderful experience. The cast is a mix of local and international actors; some of them you might know. Overbrook Entertainment, the production company owned by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, are backing the film, so it’s definitely something to look forward to.
TALLAWAH: Indeed. So what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve picked up on your artistic journey thus far?
Kadeem Wilson: What I’m learning more and more is to be honest with my opinion and to surround myself with positive people. To be different means having my own opinion and being true to that – and being brave about it. Your opinion might not always be appreciated but it’s all you have.