Mykell is an actor and writer from Atlanta, GA. He spent his teenage and college years as a singer/songwriter and was given the opportunity to perform on stages from Los Angeles to Bangkok Thailand. He released an acoustic EP, which included his first single New Stage. This song and the music video (shot with a single hand cam by director, Justin Patten) got Mykell a starring role alongside Mike The Situation in a web series called New Stage (titled after his single of the same name). The track was also the theme song for the series. After this experience, Mykell released a full length album, and moved to Los Angeles California to put all his effort into making his dreams a reality. He finished 6th in the reality show called Take The Stage, where the contestants are mentored by super music manager Johnny Wright (manager of Justin Timberlake, Jonas, Ciara, Akon, Janet Jackson) and Grammy winning songwriter/producer Rodney “Dark Child” Jerkins. Mykell began taking workshops, writing classes, and experiencing various opportunities to write and perform. He has written short films, web series, TV pilots, and he is currently developing a feature film. He recently created a web series called 202, with each episode written entirely by him. New episodes air online every Thursday.
Hi, Mykell! Thank you for granting us an interview. You’re an actor, singer, writer, and philanthropist. Impressive resume. How do you balance it all?
I have been involved in the arts and entertainment as far back as I can remember, so it’s woven into the fabric of my being. Everything aspect of my career is connected to the other. Music lends itself to filmmaking. My songwriting evolved into screenwriting. All of my creative endeavors feel like one big party so the balance comes organically. Ultimately though, I strive to enjoy my journey and not focus so much on the destination. That keeps me sane.
Let’s talk 202. It’s a successful web series written entirely by you! Amazing. Tell us more.
I had written a few short films and series pilots with lofty production budgets. I wanted to write something that would be easy to pull off financially. I started brainstorming and outlining the initial script. Malynda Hale, who plays Nya in the series, contacted me about working together on a project and I knew 202 would be perfect. We met for coffee and the next thing I know we were in production for the show.
The series itself follows 3 roommates, who are struggling to make their dream careers come true all while struggling to pay their bills. It is very relatable and true to form for any body who has ever dared to go after their dreams. We are nearing the end of the first season with just a few episodes left. New episodes air every Thursday at www.youtube.com/202theseries.
You have written several short films, web series, and TV pilots. What motivates your writing?
In short, my writing is fully motivated by the characters. I spend a lot of time getting to know the characters before I even begin writing the script. I want to tell the stories they want to share. My job as a writer becomes more of a conduit between the characters stories and the audience. My greatest ambition with my writing is to cultivate empathy in our culture by shedding light on the humanity of the marginalized and dehumanized communities of the world.
You’re also a singer. You finished 6th place in a reality show called Take The Stage. Did appearing in the show fuel your desire to act?
I got my start in entertainment as a singer/songwriter and through that I was given a lot of fun opportunities. Take The Stage was one of those life changing experiences. I spent 2 weeks being mentored by Johnny Wright (manager for Justin Timberlake, Nick Jonas, Janet Jackson) and Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (Grammy winning writer/producer, who is currently music producer for the hit TV show Empire). I can say, without hesitation, the things I learned and the intensity of the experience transformed the trajectory of my career forever
Let’s talk about the production of 202. You’re filming on a limited budget, and manage to pull off a great cast. How did you manage this?
The thing about creating your own content is most of the time it is a no budget situation. Thankful my fellow producers (Malynda Hale and Justin Patten), who were able to bring together our resources to make a great show. We have talented friends, who donate their time and skills to help us pull off this project. I am proud of the work we are doing. It’s definitely not always easy, but with some patience and flexibility we make it work.
Let’s talk about 202’s soundtrack. We are loving the music.
Music is my foundation so it’s important to have great music showcased on the show. Throughout my career I have met and worked with remarkable talented artists and it is my pleasure to give their art a platform. That will always be a goal with any of my work. Malynda Hale is an incredible singer/songwriter with a extensive catalog of work that is showcased. My friends from Take The Stage, Luke James Shaffer and Gabrielle Taryn have songs in the series. The series outro song, Settle Down, is by my dear friend Tebby Burrows, who is also extremely talented. It’s wonderful to have talented and generous friends.
Tebby – Settle Down [Official Video]
Can the soundtrack be purchased?
We are in the process of putting together a Spotify playlist of all the music featured in the first season. We are also discussing making a compilation soundtrack album once the season is finished. This soundtrack would be a donations only gift to our viewers. In the meantime, each episode has links to where you can find the featured artists’ work.
Thus far, what has been the best experience working in the industry?
As an actor my favorite experience was playing a naked host android on a couple episodes of Westworld, and, yes, I was full frontal nude. It was quite liberating as an actor to be that vulnerable.
As a writer, 202 has been the best experience to date. Watching stories and characters, that started as thoughts in my head, be brought to life by such talented people is both humbling and intoxicating.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we haven’t mentioned?
The production company I started with Justin Patten (director of 202) called A GREAT ADVENTURE PRODUCTIONS, will be producing 2 new pilots in the next few months, as well as another brand new web series that I have written called Skids. There is also at least two short films in the works as well. We will be very busy for the rest of the year which I love.
You also do philanthropy. Tell us more.
During college and post college, I spent a years volunteering as a mentor to underprivileged youth and young adults. That continues to be something I hope to invest my time and efforts to. There is something powerful in helping a person see they are fully capable of anything, especially when society continues to tell them they are not.
Complete this sentence, if I had an opportunity to do anything I want, I would do ___________.
Exactly what I am doing, but, perhaps, on a larger scale. Having a network or streaming service backing the series and films I write and produce is the dream.
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