Shannon Wallace is unapologetically carving a lane for himself in Hollywood. While a large percentage of actors settle for any role that’s offered to them, even at the expense of abandoning their values and beliefs, Wallace sits on integrity’s side of the fence.
For the budding talent, having grown up in a crime-infested neighborhood of Long Island, New York, where he lost his younger brother to senseless gun violence, Wallace made a commitment to his late sibling to never portray violent roles much like the criminals who viciously took his life.
Wallace currently stars in the BET original series “American Soul” as Private Nate Barker and took some time out of his schedule to chat with NDLYSS about season 1. He also shares how Larenz Tate, Kelly Price, Michael Ealy and more have played a huge role in the humble beginnings of his acting career.
Check out the interview below.
As a fresh face to the world of acting at what point did you realize you wanted to pursue this as a professional career?
I kind of just fell into it, I think. Right after college, I moved to Las Vegas [and] got a taste of what it’s like being on the other side and got addicted to it. I was living with a friend of mine who’s a boxer (Shane Mosley). Being in his circle piqued my interest and hanging out with one of his best friend’s (Larenz Tate) for a summer changed everything. I figured if [Larenz] could do it then I could do it, too. I went back home to New York and laid out the plan and followed it.
What advice did you take away from Larenz after spending a summer with him?
He told me to record myself as much as I can. The easiest way to learn yourself on camera is to watch yourself on camera. That’s the one that sticks with me the most.
Mentorship is critical in any field, have you had anyone in the business help guide you along the way or watched any actors techniques from a distance as a way to perfect your craft?
Six months ago, I didn’t have anyone; I was alone in this. I’ve followed Michael Ealy’s path and the way he went about things and the choices that he’s made –– I wanted to emulate that. I found a mentor –– Charmin Lee (actress out of Atlanta). She is more of a friend but takes on the mentor role. She’s been in the business for 30 years. Her approach and mindset have definitely helped me.
You’ve previously experienced a tragic loss in your family due to gun violence and made a vow to not play certain roles, how has your decision been received by casting directors?
“Very early on, I told myself that I wouldn’t play a thug or a gangster.”
I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhood. I lost my brother to gun violence and that cemented it for me. I’ve had to turn down opportunities. I’m kind of strict about what I’ll do and what I won’t do. I’m the artist and its kind of up to me.
The roles you’re opting out of playing have prominence in the Black community. Many actors of color start out the early stages of their careers and sometimes veteran years taking on those stereotypical roles, do you feel those narratives do more harm to the community even though some will argue they are portraying truth?
It’s a real thing! I see enough of it on the news but some people do need to see it because not everyone grows up in it. It is telling a story but it’s not my story, it’s too close to home for me.
“In the end, you have a choice and I think people often times forget that.”
Let’s talk about your role in “American Soul” as Private Nate Barker.
I’m a loner by choice and Nate is a loner because he has to be. He didn’t have too much of a backstory when he was given to me so I just filled in the blanks myself. He lost his father so he doesn’t have a family to come back to after serving. Nate is dealing with a lot and is a very emotional person dealing with the traumas of war.
How was your experience working alongside Kelly Price?
Kelly is refreshing! It amazes me that she has this 20-year career in entertainment but she’s brand new to acting and stripped of everything else. She’s just eager and hungry to learn which was amazing to see.
When doing research for the role, what did you discover about the Soul Train era that you didn’t’ know before?
For me, I didn’t really have to dip into Soul Train at all which actually disappointed me a little bit. Regarding the ’70s, I watched “Dead Presidents” with Larenz where he played a soldier coming back from the war. I just wanted to get the feel and look of it so I could play the role as real as I could.
“American Soul” is culturally enriching by its exploration of such a significant time in African American history. What do you think of the show’s timing, considering all that’s happening now?
There’s a storyline in the show that follows the Crips, touching on police brutality and civil rights. It shocked me on how relevant it is today. We’re telling this story in 2019 and it fits in seamlessly.
“American Soul” shows how necessary organizations like the Panthers and the Crips were during that time.”
What advice would you give to upcoming actors with no experience?
Be specific. Whatever your motivations are whether it be money, fame, or the work –– be intentional. I’ve found that saying no in my case has done more good than bad. I am very specific with what I audition for and what I choose to do and it has worked for me.
Check out Shannon Wallace on “American Soul” on Tuesdays @9 p.m. ET on BET.
Showtime picks up Drake-Produced ‘Ready for War’ Docuseries
Mr. Graham has proved he can’t be stopped in the music business time and time again. Now the 32-year-old rap star is taking on Hollywood.
Following the premiere of his HBO series Euphoria, it’s been announced that Drake is producing yet another small-screen production. Showtime has ordered Ready for War, a four-part feature documentary helmed by Drake and his manager Adel “Future” Nur.
Ready for War centers U.S. military veterans and their forced recruitment into Mexican drug cartels. Exploring post-military issues such as PTSD, drug abuse, criminal convictions for combat veterans and bigger consequences for immigrant soldiers.
The docuseries also takes a look at the differences native-born U.S. and immigrant soldiers face when convicted of a crime.
The series examines the lives three green card holding soldiers who are experiencing the cycle in different phases. One soldier is situated in Tijuana attempting to reunite with his family back in America, another one is in ICE detention fighting deportation, and the other is heavily involved with a drug cartel in Ciudad Juarez.
A trailer and premiere date have not yet been released.
Veteran Producer kickstarts $15 Million Campaign To Combat Abortion Bans
It’s no secret Hollywood is outraged over anti-abortion laws being passed on the state level, especially when the industry’s new film capital Georgia followed suit.
Veteran producer Peter Chernin is turning the boycott up several notches. Chernin has reportedly launched a multi-million dollar campaign to combat the new legislation and is calling for major backing.
Chernin is partnering with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero on the fundraising effort. The email seeks $15 million by July 1, according to Deadline.
“I am launching a campaign to contribute to the $15 million that is needed to fund the ACLU’s legal efforts to battle the national anti-abortion effort,” he wrote, according to The New York Times, which first reported the story. “We have a moral responsibility to act immediately.”
“We were conflicted about contributing to the health of an economy and a state that had declared war on the rights and freedom of its women. On one hand, if we chose the boycott route, thousands of jobs would be lost ultimately damaging workers who rely on production for livelihood, including many women. We also know that the only way to fight the massive, now national incursion on women’s rights is through a legal battle, a battle that needs funding and on the ground support via organizations like the ACLU who are powering up to overturn the law. So our choice became pretty clear we will stay in Georgia, stand shoulder to shoulder with the women of that state and the states under attack, and fight to win.”
Alabama, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Utah have implemented the new bill in recent weeks.
Chance the Rapper’s modernized ‘All That’ theme song is incredible
Popular Nickelodeon sketch comedy show, All That is making a comeback this month. Although the release date hasn’t been officially announced of who is performing the new theme, hip-hop star Chance the Rapper just dished out one hell of a hint.
Recently, The Chicago emcee previewed his version of the theme on Instagram. Chance is shown jamming in the clip to the new gospel/hip hop infused theme. It not only features a choir but also a few bars from Chance, suggesting it will be used for the show. Check it out below.
The All That revival will premiere June 15th on Nickelodeon. Original cast members Kel Mitchell, Lori Beth Denberg, and Josh Server will make appearances alongside a new cast of young comedians.
Meanwhile, Chance the Rapper is currently working on his full-length debut album titled OwBum, which is slated for a July release.
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