I was definitely nervous about this interview because I watched this man change lives, yes change lives before he graduated from Troy University—Mine being one of them. I had not touched a stage during my college career until I met Deric Kennedy, and from watching him act, host, lead, and encourage others through his many gifts he left me inspired to pursue what I love. This Alabama native has remained true to who he is, while consistently pursuing his end goal: to be happy doing what he loves.
As I listened to the playback of the interview I heard many different voices, as I should have…we were in a coffee shop in Atlantic Station. But in Deric’s voice, I heard Harry Belafonte, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Forrest Whitaker, and many other iconic figures. I heard their drive for success, I heard characters that they had played. When asked who motivated him, he spoke of Harry Belafonte’s success as a man contributing to the world rather than just as an actor.
“This may seem or sound a little more romanticized than it actually is, but the truth is I always wanted to give this big profound sentiment about who inspires me…’cause everyone is always giving these big elaborate statements, but honestly, it was as simple as me knowing anything can be done. And it’s a matter of me just doing it.”
I was so captivated by his eloquence and realness. It seemed as if he was born to speak to people, even if he was not doing so on the stage. Now if you met Deric while in college you knew that he could put on a performance that you would be so immersed in that you’d forget the time. He was not only an actor but the President of Troy University Chapter of the NAACP. So when I tell you he was an all around guy please believe me. There was nothing that he couldn’t do (He could fit the role of the Black Panther if you ask me).
Are You Still Acting
In the entertainment industry, there are millions of people trying to break in every day, so of course it is no surprise that often on-lookers will question the progress and success of an actor, director, cinematographer, etc. Kennedy briefly spoke about what he believes to be the most challenging part of pursuing a career in this fast-paced industry.
“The hardest part honestly is… Even though you shouldn’t want to convince anybody….But it’s just as a person who is educated and actually, I understand the perception. I’ll put it that way. Those who aren’t doing something that’s concrete, something that’s giving them right now money. Right now recognition. To the public, they look counter productive. And that’s the hardest part. Convincing my family that what I’m doing is not going in vain.”
He spoke about factors that many ambitious actors have faced as being some of the challenges that may hinder or discourage them from pursuing their fullest potential. Amongst those things, he talked about being broke. A lot. Impromptu meetings and opportunities that would cause you to have a crazy schedule.
So to answer the question for you, YES! He is still acting. But I’ll get a little more into that in a minute.
“I know that I’m making the connections. I know that there is a definite return on investment.”
As I listened to Deric speak I realized more and more that we each go through similar situations on the pursuit of our goals and aspirations. When asked if proving people wrong was gratifying, he made sure to let me know that although that’s not the intention, that it does feel good to complete an interview or earn a role that someone did not believe he could fulfill.
“I never want to come across as if the goal is to prove people wrong. The goal is to live happily. The goal is to be who I envision myself to be based on God’s will for my life.”
Do You Have the X Factor?
“I would say you really have to know your why. Your W-H-Y. If you try to pursue anything just for the money, you’re not going to be satisfied. Once you make the decision that this is what you really want to do, that’s your why.”
As our conversation carried on I inquired about what it takes to be in the acting field. Deric elaborated further on the above statement. He mentioned one of his most proud moments, studying his craft in New York and that the opportunity is something that he could not have imagined passing up.
“They have to study the business!—If you don’t know how to be a union actor, or if you have to be represented by an agent. Headshots. A lot of acting coaches recommend a lot of books..98% of your success as an actor is knowing the business, the how to.”
I lingered for a while, intrigued by the simplicity of the wisdom coming from someone I have admired for a few years now. Of course, I wanted to know more about the defining and character building moments. He detailed that his most liberating moment was when he understood the power of making a decision to do something.
“…It’s not that I was accepted. It was that I had this idea and it manifested. I actually smacked myself in the ass and had the balls to do it. I think that’s like 90% of why people don’t do things. They know what they want to do, but they want to take the risk.”
It could not be more simple. Evolve. Grow. Take Risks.
“I’m just a regular boy from Ozark, AL who told himself that he would win and decided to do just that.”- Deric Kennedy