ALL GROWN UP: “I feel like I’m being pushed to amp it up and realize my full potential,” shares the actor/TV host, now 25.
KEVOY Burton doesn’t back down from a challenge. But nothing could prepare him for tackling the complex role of Glenmore Watson, a born-and-bred country boy who, after spending time in the UK, returns to his native Jamaican village with a British accent, a wife-to-be on his arm and a new attitude. But he took to the role like a trooper and, it’s safe to conclude, he nails it.
“I don’t have much in common with him, so it was hard finding similarities between us,” the 25-year-old actor says of playing the ambitious chap, having a chat with TALLAWAH by the entrance of the Phoenix Theatre in New Kingston, where his new show, Country Wedding, is now playing to packed houses and rave reviews. “In terms of what he’s going through with his family, I’m not used to that. I’ve known my father all my life, and my family life is not as chaotic. So I pretty much had to dig deep to find something to channel to play the role. It’s probably the toughest character I’ve played so far.”
This coming from a performer who hadn’t touched the Kingston stage since 2012’s Back-A-Yard, which also saw him collaborating with writer-director Dahlia Harris (pictured below) and veteran leading lady Deon Silvera. So how was it returning to the stage after a five-year break? “It wasn’t an easy transition,” Burton admits, laughing. “I’ve gotten used to television and the softer kind of expression. Now I can’t whisper anymore. I feel like I’m being pushed to amp it up and realize my full potential as an actor.”
From all appearances, Burton, who is of medium built and stands at five-nine, feels very much at home before the cameras. He has the presence and likeability for it. His lead role on the teen drama series Real Friends aside, audiences have been getting to know him as a member of the Schools’ Challenge Quiz family, co-hosting TV-J’s SCQ Access (a preview show) on Mondays and the review show that airs on Saturdays, opposite his brother-from-another Burchell Gordon (at left).
“We have a lot of fun doing the shows. This is our third season. He’s a very good friend of mine, and we have great chemistry. We both went to Ardenne and NCU, so we’ve known each other for years,” shares Burton, who never tried out for the Quiz team back in high school, opting instead for cricket and later the dramatic arts.
Still, it’s his on-screen work (film included) that established him as a young Jamaican talent to watch. Sure you recall his starring role in 2011 as a young boxer striving against the odds in Chris Browne’s gritty urban flick Ghett’a Life (opposite Chris McFarlane and Kadeem Wilson) and his brief appearance in Jeremy Whittaker’s Destiny as Mystic’s pilot boyfriend.
These days, the multi-talented star shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he’s pressing the accelerator on getting out his dreams. When he’s not headlining TV shows or lighting up the stage, he works as an ad operations executive at digital media house Loop Jamaica and strives to be the best possible father to his one-and-ad-half year-old son, Kaleb. “Everything I do now is for him,” the proud dad admits.
Up next is laying the groundwork for Burgundy Management Limited, the talent agency he and Gordon decided to go into business together to establish. As Burton tells us, they have a big, top-secret project in the works that everyone will hear about in a few months.
In spite of the impressive résumé and the exciting projects he has in the works, Burton wisely opts to play the modesty card. “I wouldn’t say I have achieved a lot. Life is okay. I’m still learning and I’m still growing as a performer,” he says. “I understand theatre a lot more now.” Where does he see himself in the next five, ten years? For one thing, expanding his horizons as an artist. “I want to become one of the best actors locally,” he says, “and one of the best hosts on TV.”