All Eyes On Keith Powers
After an exciting year, the up-and-coming actor speaks about his upcoming projects, his upbringing in Sacramento, and hopes for the future
If you’re a television series buff, film aficionado, or any other self-proclaimed titles related to the creative industry, then Keith Powers is a face you recognize. Why is that, you ask? Outside of his many television stunts, Powers’ filmography is proof enough, boasting an impressive track record of being involved in multiple influential films. Oh, and did we already mention he’s a model, too? Powers truly does it all.
The 30-year-old’s acting career began with an incredible high after landing his first gig for the 2013 comedy House Party: Tonight’s the Night, with the iconic biographical film, Straight Outta Compton, soon later being his second role (portraying as Dr. Dre’s brother, Tyree Crayton) — and the one that happened to highly revolutionize and project his acting forward. But before the big Hollywood blockbusters, magazine covers, and fame, Powers was raised in California’s cultural hub — Sacramento — and had intentions of pursuing a career in another art form: football. He, evidently, decided to take a chance with acting and modeling instead, but the sport, which he continues to play with a local flag football team, reminds him of the beginnings; the simpler times.
“When I go back home, it just reminds me of where I came from,” he states, thinking about his youth. “…Being young, you just exist and barely have that pressure, or nobody else puts pressure on you, and you realize how content you can be by just existing and being present.”
His humility and admiration for his hometown translates with how he performs. He’s a graceful actor, just as he is individually off-screen, who no longer focuses on societal expectations and doesn’t sell himself short of his potential. It was all through “taking the time to really just learn about who I am and what I like to do,” but this honest awareness had to be self-taught, and only grew as he landed project after project. And when you look at Powers at the start of his career versus now, he’ll agree, too, that he has grown in his confidence (with introverted tendencies) for his direction and future.
“Where I grew up, [acting] was like saying I want to live on Mars,” Powers explains. “That’s how it felt because I never really got to study young. So I told myself, ‘What do I like? What would I like to see myself be, and what will be fun to me?’ And once I start[ed] asking myself those questions, and it’s still happening, this is becoming way easier for me. Because now I’m not trying to be something I’m not.”
His avant-garde approach to acting is exploring genres he has never worked in before (and imagining those he has yet to). He has played Ronnie DeVoe in The New Edition Story, another biographical project of his; Jordan Wilder in the drama series, Famous in Love; his character Todd in thriller What/If; Terry in action film The Tomorrow War across Chris Pratt. Plus, many other roles in-between that are parallel to who he is individually.
“Sometimes, it’s kind of looked down upon in our industry because people will say ‘they only play the same kind of roles,’” Powers explains. “I like playing different versions of myself, and I don’t let that define how good or not I am as an actor—that’s not up to me. I just do the best that I can and just hope people love it.”
For an actor taking on such a broad scope of genres takes great skill, and in our eyes, he is practically untouchable. But in reality, Powers prefers to keep it simple outside of the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. He doesn’t “really need much to be content,” and uses his leisurely time to explore new cities, visit loved ones, and play a video game or two. He even has binged and fallen into the reality TV trap like the rest of us (and enjoys Love Is Blind just as much as you do), inspiring him to one day produce unscripted projects of his own.
This natural charisma and easy-going nature of his is what draws viewers in, and is ultimately what caught the eyes of Netflix producers. Beginning next year, Powers is starring in two upcoming romance films with the streaming service: Uglies, a “dystopia, sci-fi, action, and romance all in one,” as he describes, opposite Joey King, and romantic-comedy, The Perfect Find, alongside Gabrielle Union.
Looking back at the filming of both book adaptations, Powers relates to his characters in different ways. His The Perfect Find persona, Eric, was the first project he felt closest to “who I am in real life” simply because he had the freedom, courtesy of director Numa Perrier, to characterize Eric however he thought he (Eric) should be — even down to the decision of not covering his tattoos. Uglies was a bit different, requiring Powers to work with how the character was written in order to “respect the source material,” but taught him “that I can really come in and leave a stamp on this project by collaborating, having a point of view on set, and having an opinion about certain things — I can help move the story forward.”
And as he was filming those films, Powers took on the challenge and added two other projects to his ever-growing résumé with Avan Jogia’s Door Mouse and the New York indie film On Our Way that viewers have, and certainly will fall in love with.
“Every day, I’m still figuring out who I am as an actor,” says Powers. “But I know I want to do the stuff that I grew up watching and loving. And I want to resonate in so many households and be a fun actor. I want people to watch my films in the future, and hopefully it’s like cult classics.”
What else to expect from Powers? Stay tuned for The Perfect Find and Uglies landing on Netflix in 2023.