In Impact’s second interview with actor/ producer/writer Solomon B Taiwo (formally Samuel Kelly IV), we discussed how the arts have changed and adapted to the current pandemic, his recent series Enslaved (now available on BBC iPlayer), and what has inspired him as an actor.
First of all, what has life been like for you since you last interview with Impact – How do you think lockdown has affected your work, whether it be acting or writing?
Lockdown really forced me to back and come up with a strategy. It has definitely impacted how I think about my career. It has given me the resources I need to really focus more at home, and connect more and network more with people. For everybody it was hard, but it really made me focus. This is how I see it – as an entrepreneur, this has given me that motivation I need to carry on working.
Becoming embodied in the character on set is, what I think, makes a really powerful actor
What do you think the future of the arts will be like in the future because of COVID?
Of course it’s different because of the tier system and social distancing. But with the arts it’s all forever changing. With cinema, before COVID I used to go to screenings every day, but now productions are not focused on cinema because the industry has diverted, but I’m sure things will change again when things start getting better. Theatre on the other hand might take longer to bounce back, but ultimately people just can’t live without the arts, and especially cinema.
Last time you mentioned adapting your feature film Red Mustang into a feature adaptation – how is this going?
I’ve got my own production company, and it’s done pretty well on IMDb and has about quite a few reviews. It was a short film where we had the idea of doing a short comedy clip that turned out well especially considering how long it was.
Last year we asked you about your next book Turning Point: Hope – what was the writing process like as an autobiography and what did you hope to convey by writing it?
What I really wanted was for people to understand my perspective of how life is. Sometimes things can be watered down a bit online. I didn’t want people to think my career has always been easy – I have had to grind since I was a kid, especially in school when I couldn’t focus and this was because of wanted to go into the arts, although I didn’t know that at the time.
People can think that if you have to work hard you are a failure, but actually it’s just that your career won’t manifest according to people’s expectations. This is why I called the book ‘Turning point: Hope’ because you have to be the first person in the car to turn that corner – nobody’s going to turn that corner for you. When you turn that corner, people will follow you.
Will you be working on writing anything else?
I am mostly working on film and TV at the moment because that’s where I want to focus right now, but I am working on a book in the future probably around 2022, but my main priority Is the acting.
Turning Point: Hope sounds amazing, and inspirational as well for people that want to go into the arts but are being told they should direct their efforts towards something else.
Yeah, I try to see things completely differently. I see it in a way that if you want something you should fight for it. If not, people will think you are wrong, but if you show people vulnerability and your background, this makes you stronger and helps people relate to you. By doing this, people actually end up following you, they will be inspired to think that they can do that too.
Learning about our history and diving deep in Enslaved, opened my eyes to a new way of thinking. Playing my character really inspired me
Last time we asked you what films have inspired you the most – has this changed?
To be honest this has not changed much – I’m still in love with science fiction, it has my heart. There’s something about the next generation of film and methods like CGI that really captures me. I love the whole idea of the rebellious emotions that directors and producers bring across in their films.
Tell me about the new series Enslaved – how did you get into this and what was it like working on this project?
This taught me a lot actually. Learning about our history and diving deep in Enslaved, opened my eyes to a new way of thinking. Playing my character really inspired me – he was an author who had a role in the abolition of slavery and even signed the document. Samuel L. Jackson was also really inspirational so well known in the industry was telling such an important story. This the reason I love acting. As Denzel Washington said, ‘Everything is acting’. It really changed my mindset when it comes to acting and I really loved everything about the production and experience.
It also gave me insight about how things have changed and what things could be like and reminded me why I do what I do. It was one of those projects that really got me thinking. I felt like I came out of a cocoon and something else blossomed for me in terms of thinking about where my career will go.
I just enjoy the whole atmosphere of being on set and becoming the character and I love all aspects of filming from the producers to the ADs
What do you enjoy most about being part of the industry?
It’s the process of actually playing a character. I love being able to take on something so inspirational. When I receive a script, I feel like I have been given the chance to play the character the way I want to play it. That’s what I love about acting. Everybody adds their own aspects to even the most well known characters like Batman or Superman.
I love that the character is playing me. When you’re playing someone, I feel the character taking over me, but I am also influencing the character. Becoming embodied in the character on set is, what I think, makes a really powerful actor. If the character is good enough in a script, it really affects you. This is why I try and become the character for one or two weeks.
Sounds like you are very much a method actor then?
Yes definitely, and that’s what I really enjoy about it. The character plays you, and this really resonates with me because I am not professionally trained, I’m more of ‘an in the moment’ actor. I just enjoy the whole atmosphere of being on set and becoming the character and I love all aspects of filming from the producers to the AD whether its film or TV. You could definitely call me a fanatic when it comes to film.
Are there any other upcoming projects that you are excited about? Or that we can look forward to seeing you in? – I can from IMDb see new feature film Plastic Toys is in post-production?
Plastic Toys is a police comedy/thriller set in America that is currently in post-production. I play an American police officer, so the project was more geared towards America – as this is where I want to be based eventually. I have also worked recently on Moreland’s Firm (2019), which more closely resembles The Bill. I am lucky enough to be playing a lot of characters and endlessly working in this early point in my career, and am especially lucky that Enslaved did so well. I always have a few projects lined up for the future as well.
And finally, how did you get into the industry and what inspired you to become an actor?
I fell in love with the industry when I was invited to a screening of A Cure of Wellness (2016). We had an interview and Q&A with the director and this was the pivotal moment for me that highlighted that acting is what I wanted to do – it really opened my eyes. My career was less traditional but began by being invited to these screenings and I was very lucky to do that. I fell in love with the whole process.
Thank you very much for speaking to us! Your career is really inspirational, it makes me want to be an actor now!
Haha do it, we need as many people as possible! And you’re welcome.
Follow Samuel Kelly IV on Instagram, Spotify , Facebook and Twitter.
Check out Samuel Kelly’s website and IMDB.
Featured Image courtesy of Maurice Sparrow. No changes made to this image.
Trailer courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes TV via YouTube.
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