Last week, I held an interview with Samuel Kelly IV. As an actor, producer and author, he shared some key insights into the entertainment industry. According to Kelly, his time at the Identity School of Acting, as well as growing up in London, greatly shaped him as an artist. As you’ll see below, his talent is matched by a very disciplined work ethic.
After my audio equipment crashed, he was gracious enough to lend me his time for a second interview.
“Most of my own experiences go into my projects. With every project that I do, there’s always a bit of me in it.”
So, what got you into acting in the first place?
I was inspired by movies, which got me into acting heavily. I was invited to screenings by Universal Pictures and Paramount. Film was a part of me, and this was the initial wakeup that told me this is what I need to do for the rest of my life.
What advice would you give for any aspiring actors?
Be yourself, keep working and don’t give up. Even if you’re thrown an obstacle, it’s just a test. It is possible for you to become an actor or producer but first you have to defeat failure.
Who are your role models in the industry?
My role models are Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy and Denzel Washington. They’re all amazing at what they do.
From the selection of projects that you have worked on, is there one in particular that means the most to you? If so, why?
Yes of course! So, Moreland’s Firm (2019) means a lot to me because it was a different project from what I usually do. It expanded my knowledge on the acting industry itself – especially working with some well-known actors from EastEnders and Holby City. It also broadened my abilities as I got to play a British police officer. I’ve played American roles, and when you get into that scenery it’s so hard to draw back. But that challenged me, and we completed the project. Yeah, it was really good.
“Last year I finished my short film, Red Mustang (2019), and now I’m working on its feature adaptation. “
How many of your own experiences go into your projects?
Most of my own experiences go into my projects. With every project that I do, there’s always a bit of me in it. When I have a role, I spend a whole week playing that character. So, when I adopt it and bring it back into the project, I put everything into it. I want it to come across as what the writer or director wants.
Which part of the filmmaking process do you enjoy the most? Why?
I love the producing side, as I can be myself. As an actor on set, you start going through different things. If you transition into becoming a producer, you understand that. You understand how actors feel and what they might need or want. And you understand that it’s easy to adopt something if you have the right team around you.
Your novel, Solomon’s Shadow, was published last year. What was the writing process like? And, are you currently working on any other literary projects?
Yes! So Solomon’s Shadow was a collaboration. The writing on that was more of a learning process, so when I collaborated with Jacob Rundle, we decided to come up with a small story. It was a real story, but we decided to do the Spielberg thing and turn it into a science fiction piece so people would understand it from a more ‘movie’ point of view.
The next book has nothing to do with Solomon’s Shadow. It’s an autobiography of my life. How I’ve achieved what I did, and why I’ve achieved what I did. The purpose of the book is to inspire others. You can do it. Just never stop. You have to fail in order to ultimately achieve. The book is called Turning Point: Hope.
“If you stay ready, you don’t need to get ready. That’s a quote I’ve used from day one.”
While the entire country is in lockdown, I figured it’d be a good time to pick up a couple of hobbies. What are you doing to keep occupied during these odd times?
I’m used to lockdowns anyway. I’ve trained myself to be homebound sometimes, when I’m not on set or I’m not working on scripts. After talking to a lot of people in Identity School of Acting, where I studied, I decided to purchase my own equipment, so that when times like this happen, I have everything I need. I’m a person that likes everything in one circle.
If you’re homebound, you can do voice-overs. If you’re homebound, you can do self takes. If you’re homebound, you can get on your computer and talk to people. In the lockdown process, I can talk to everybody through Zoom, Skype or a phone call. I’ve got a good setup at home.
That’s brilliant. I think it’s important for people in lockdown to realise that life doesn’t completely shut down. You can still be productive.
Of course. I definitely agree.
Which film/films inspired you most?
Recently, Gemini Man. Can’t get enough of that film. I loved Smith’s character, and the idea that if you work hard, no one can stop you. I really loved how they made the leads part of each other. In this industry we have a similar thing. When you’re on set, there’s always someone that mimics what you do.
I love the way Smith breaks it down – if you stay ready, you don’t need to get ready. That’s a quote I’ve used from day one.
Do you have any projects planned for after lockdown? What can you tell us about them?
Yeah, of course! At the moment I can’t really spill the beans on any projects that I’m doing because of NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements). But, when I’m able to, you’ll be the first I tell.
At the moment I’m doing a documentary, which I also can’t say anything about. Last year I finished my short film, Red Mustang (2019), and now I’m working on its feature adaptation. We’ve just secured characters etc. etc. That will be kicking off when lockdown finishes.
I’m excited to see these projects develop. Thank you very much for doing this interview a second time!
You’re very welcome! Stay safe.
Follow Samuel Kelly IV on Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of Chris Bailey. Image use license here.