EXCLUSIVE: Keith Powers’ career is exploding.
The 24-year old has been doing his thing in Hollywood for the past several years, but his major break came when he slid onto the scene in 2015’s mega hit, Straight Outta Compton. In the film, he starred as Dr. Dre’s late younger brother Tyree. Since then, Powers has gone on to star in several TV series including Faking It and Recovery Road.
However, it was his stellar performance as New Edition icon Ronnie DeVoe in BET’s The New Edition Story that catapulted him to new heights. With that role, the Sacramento native proved he can literally do anything.
Currently, the former football player is heating up our screens as Jordan Wilder on Freeform’s Famous In Love. From the mind of Pretty Little Liar‘s Rebecca Serle and showrunner I. Marlene King, Famous In Love follows an ordinary college student Paige Townsen (Bella Thorne) who gets her big break in Hollywood and is catapulted into the spotlight. On the series, Powers stars as the sexy, stoic movie star Jordan Wilder who is trying to manage his personal life along with fame.
Recently, JETmag.com caught up with Keith Powers to chat about Famous in Love, his career aspirations and the TV shows that he’s currently obsessed with.
JET: Hi Keith, thank you so much for chatting with me today.
Keith Powers: Thanks for having me.
JET: Of course. Let’s talk about Freeform’s Famous in Love, which is your newest series. I’m loving it so far. It’s very different especially coming off of The New Edition Story. What drew you to this specific project and this script?
Keith Powers: Honestly, what really drew me in is the fact that Marlene [King] was doing it, and I saw what she did with Pretty Little Lairs. When the showrunner is very confident, it makes you very confident in that project. Also, who doesn’t want to be a part of that teenage drama ensemble, like 90210, Gossip Girl, or The O.C.?
JET: Oh of course!
Keith Powers: I actually read the book once I booked the show. Rebecca Serle, the creator, did an amazing job with portraying and showing how it really is in the acting world, and I think that helps too, in how realistic it was.
JET: For sure. So has your experience in Hollywood been as messy and complicated as the ones of the characters in Famous in Love?
Keith Powers: It’s messy to a certain extent. The messiness is something that even you probably don’t even see all the time even when you’re in behind the scenes. But, Famous in Love it does not exaggerate it, that’s what I love.
Keith Powers: That’s how it really goes down in the industry. Shady stuff goes down, messy stuff goes down, and it’s dope because I feel like when Rebecca or Marlene write things in the script, it’s like, we get to learn from it being actors ourselves.
JET: Yeah, for sure. One thing I really love about Jordan is the fact that, though he’s in the spotlight, he really tries to take the time to protect himself. He’s also never truly, intentionally malicious. Do you relate to him at all? Do you try and protect your inner circle and protect yourself while still interacting with your fans?
Keith Powers: Well, now I’m starting to learn in real life that I’m the type of guy that loves to engage. My whole thing is to engage with all the fans and supporters. I want them to all feel close to me and relate to me and support me for a long time. That’s the person I am; I think humility and everything is so important. However, with the fame coming in now, I have to do it more strategically and calculated. I can’t just do it and then it’s a moment, it passed.
Keith Powers: Everything I do is recorded, saved or shared. So it’s like dang if that’s the case if I know that every little thing is being recorded, shared or saved then I have to be mindful of exactly what I put out there. That’s how I deal with that. Dealing with the fans and dealing with my personal life and trying to still let my fans see that, but at the same time keep some things to myself.
JET: How did you prepare for your role as Jordan?
Keith Powers: Well one, you’ve gotta know your material, you gotta know your lines. It’s always good to take extra time and dissect your character. It’s important to create a backstory for them so that everything has more intention and everything is more truthful. So I think it’s always good to sit back and think about all the characters that are in the film or whatever. What do they mean to your character?
JET: So what is it about Jordan that you can learn from as Keith, and what are some of the things that he does that you would never do as Keith?
Keith Powers; One thing I can learn is that and I already know this, but he loves his craft so much. He puts it first. He’s serious about it, and that’s what I love. He reminds me that it’s all about the craft at the end of the day. However, he does get into things, and then he’ll say, “I’ll just deal with it later.” He handles it, but he just puts himself in more trouble, and I learned that I would never do that because when you put yourself into trouble like that, it affects your work. In the series, he’s supposed to be shooting this big film, but he’s going through all this stuff. You forget that he’s even doing the film because he has all of this stuff going on. So I learn from that.
JET: In recent years you’ve done, Straight Outta Compton, The New Edition Story, Before I Fall, and Recovery Road among others. As a black male actor, you’ve really chosen these really great diverse projects. Why is that important to you?
Keith Powers: I just feel like as an actor, you want to be able to relate to everybody. You want to touch all these different types of demographics. You want to be able to have other people of different races, different cultures relate to who you are. I think that’s important for me to pick these roles that are so different, especially different from who I am. Just so people can see that and be like, “Man, I can see his range.” That’s why New Edition was so important to me because you see me dance, you see me do different accents, you see me have all these different wigs on. I was totally a different person.
JET: I know that before getting into acting and even before you got into modeling you loved to play football, so what else do you do when you’re not on set?
Keith Powers: I’m gonna tell you, I’m not really a complicated guy. I just like to kick it, play video games, I hit the gym, I love going to the movies a lot.
JET: Is there one film that you’ve seen this year, or television series that you’re really obsessed with?
Keith Powers: One film that I really liked was La La Land. I liked Get Out too. I really love La La Land though, some people, a lot of people actually don’t get it, but I don’t know what people could not like about it, I really liked it. I’m also a big Game of Thrones fan and Insecure and Atlanta. Those are my shows.
JET: Oh perfect, yes, Game Of Thrones finally coming back! We’ve been waiting forever. Atlanta is not coming back until 2018, but at least we have Insecure to look forward to soon.
Keith Powers: Yeah, it’ll be dope.
JET: So have you met one celeb or a musician or anyone yet in Hollywood that has left you starstruck?
Keith Powers: Yeah, Dr. Dre.
JET: So dope. I know that you played his younger brother in Straight Outta Compton. Did you get a chance to speak with him a lot?
Keith Powers: It would just be stuff about his brother mainly, just to help with the character, ’cause I just knew that my main focus was to just to make him feel happy about it, before anybody else because that’s his brother.
JET: For sure, so what are your ultimate goals as an actor? Do you want to do a Marvel franchise? Are you looking to win an Oscar?
Keith Powers: I want to be able to inspire people with my roles, and also I want to start producing my own films. Of course, anybody wants an Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, stuff like that, but you know that’s something I feel like is out of my control. All I can do is be the best actor that I can be because all that stuff is politics. But if I ever to win an Oscar, or Golden Globe, Emmy, it’ll be the best feeling in the world. That would be dope.
JET: So what’s next for you?
Keith Powers: I’ve got #REALITYHIGH coming out on Netflix. It’s a comedy. Other than that, I’m just working on booking more movies. I might be booking something very soon; I don’t want to say it yet, But, if everything goes through, it’ll be huge.
JET: Fantastic, and congratulations and thank you so much for speaking with me, Keith, I really appreciate it.
Keith Powers: I really appreciate it too.
All episodes of Famous In Love are now available to binge on Freeform.
Photo Credit: FreeForm