Published on March 26th, 2013 | by Nathaniel0
Interviews: ‘Keenan and Kel’s’ Kel Mitchell’s Journey (part 2)
Being Encouraged Minute with Kel Mitchell
As promised, here is part 2 of our interview with Keenan and Kel’s, Kel Mitchell. If you missed part 1, check it out here: http://bit.ly/15LVYvi
N: So I want to transition a bit. Did you grow up in a household of believers?
K: Yeah I did. My grandfather- he’s a pastor and that made my mom a preacher’s kid so I constantly went to church. We didn’t miss church whether we were sick or not. Grew up in church; I was in Boy Scouts in the church.
N: No way, I was a Boy Scout too!
K: Hey, “Be prepared.”
N: “Do a good term daily!”
K: (laughing) Yeah! So that helped me out a lot too- being in Boy Scouts and being in church. My parents and their faith molded me into the man I am today.
N: How old were you when you had to make a decision for yourself about your faith?
K: I actually went up on invitation when I was young. My mom was really adamant about making that choice for ourselves. She wanted us to make that choice within our spirit. That was when I was about 10 or 11. But of course, you know, as you get older, there are certain things that you deal with in the world.
K: I always knew Christ, but having a relationship with Christ is a totally different thing. As far as now having a relationship with Him, for the last four years, I’ve been like straight obedient; obedient with the Word and obedient with Him. A lot of things have got me to the point I am now and now I can look back and say that I’m happy that I went through those things because I’ve learned so much. God was there when I used to drink and when I used to be in the wrong types of places and messing around with girls and all that stuff. It’s all about Him now; I don’t need to go back.
N: Was it hard making that choice at the time, 10 or 11? And then entering this industry? I’m sure you had things and opportunities thrown at you left and right, so what was it like then?
K: I didn’t get on TV until I was 14 or 15 so up until then, there were things in Chicago that I could have gotten into. That’s why I’m so grateful for family just praying me through.
N: How would you describe your approach to the industry now? What are you willing to do or not do?
K: As far as my faith and approaching certain roles, where I’m at now- there are certain roles I won’t take if I feel that it compromises my faith. Some people are like I got to pay bills so I’ll take whatever and go to church. You can’t really think of it in that mindset. Jesus gives us our talent and I feel like if you abuse that by hurting others, if they see it, that could really mess someone up. Or some people will be like, I’m just acting. I’m just doing my job. Well, if that’s the case, then why do people run up to soap opera actors and tell them, ‘Why did you do that to that woman and knock her out in that one scene!?’ Everybody doesn’t fully understand that so a lot of people can get misled. And just for me, I feel like I want to do things and allow my children to see it and be like- I want to be like my pops.
N: So what does that look like for you in a more tangible form? Or maybe a recent movie you’ve seen that you would have like to have been a part of?
K: The Pursuit of Happiness– those types of roles. Or Flight, you know. Antwone Fisher story. Or let’s say the character is going through something very sinful, you know, there has to be some type of redemption at the end. I’m not just going to do a pimp character type of role if there’s no redemption at the end of it; if he’s just whilin’ out because. I feel like it’s great to show a story of how someone came out. It needs to have a lesson.
N: I feel like I have the same mindset. And originally I didn’t know what that was. I’d feel bad I got an audition- if it was for something like, I don’t know, Mardi Gras, or overly sexed, just to put it out there. And something in my spirit just didn’t feel right. So it’s great to hear you say that.
K: And us as actors can get into that method state because we want to bring truth to that character.
N: On that tip, Clive (sitting here), is your manager. So how did you go about finding representation that agreed with your values?
K: On the agent aspect, I started bumping heads with my agent, not the one I have now- because I was passing up on certain roles that I just didn’t feel were best for me. And they were like, you can’t pass up on this type of stuff. And I prayed to God for an agent that would understand my values. And it’s just amazing. And I met with the agent I have now. At the meeting, he said I want you to fill out this sheet with your vision and what bible verses you are standing on so we can pray with you over your vision and the talents God has given you.
N: Did they know you were a believer?
K: Yeah, they knew. This is something they do with all their clients. They pray over all their clients before they take them on. And with Clive (Kel’s manager), we started off doing appearances. And before we step into a meeting, we pray over the meeting. You need a team in this business. Your agent, manager, and lawyers- they have to understand you because you might bump heads with your representation if they don’t have the same vision that you have for you. That’s why one of my favorite verses is in Habakkuk- ‘Write the vision and make it plain,’ because you can’t just go into this without a vision. You got to have a goal.
N: So with that said, where do you see yourself now? Especially with your comedic background from Keenan and Kel. Are you still trying to head down that route?
K: I’m not really a comedian. Comedy comes naturally to me. And it’s like literally, Keenan and Kel, was a sitcom which means situational comedy. And once you’re on a sitcom, they deem you as ‘oh, you’re a comedian.’ But I didn’t go the comedic route. I feel like people have many different talents. Like Jamie Foxx. You can’t tell me that people thought that when he was on Living Color that seven years later, he was going to get an Oscar as Ray Charles. But he had that in him, that dramatic part of him. And I started out in theatre. It was always drama. I just love telling good stories, just every part of the entertainment business.
N: What do you believe your purpose is?
K: I feel like I’ve been molded by Christ. I feel like I’ve learned from everything. And now God wants me to work through the Kingdom. I feel like He’s putting me in a spot where He wants me to tell impactful stories.
N: What three words would you use to describe yourself?
K: Creative. Loving. Passionate. You got to love what you do. If not, then you should get out of it. Athletes go through tough times but they get back up. You got to keep going no matter what.
N: (to Clive, Kel’s manager) How would you describe Kel in three words? Not using any of the words he used.
C: Wait, what did he say? I didn’t hear any of them.
C: Driven. Humble. Passionate.
N: (laughing) I think we already used that last one but it’s okay. What did you see in Kel that made you want to work with him?
C: I would say driven and very humble. Driven because of what his calling was. In the world of entertainers, there aren’t many who display their faith publically.
N: What advice would you give to a man or woman of faith who is trying to pursue this industry and still maintain his or her faith?
K: Like I said before, in Habakkuk, your vision. ‘Write your vision and make it plain.’ And after you do that, you have to have patience and obedience and stay focused on it- not wavering. There is going to be temptation and criticism all around you. Your family. Your friends. All things that the devil will try to use. But just take it to Christ first and never stop believing that it’s going to come true. His time. My problem was that I would get a vision from Christ but try to do it on my own time. But you got to know that it’s hard. My wife says this all the time- it’s hard to have faith in your faith. You got to know your faith is going to work. Don’t worry about the outcome at the end.
N: I love that man!
K: Even when it seems like it’s not going to work out, it will. You never know why He puts you in the situations He does.