Kamil McFadden talks about growing up as a Disney child star and how it taught him to live his life to the fullest by going beyond expectations.
Living a happy and successful life means not limiting yourself to what others think or what is currently happening in today's society. Going beyond expectations offers a straight path in becoming bigger than your goals. In episode 31, I have a #CreativeConversation with my pal, Kamil McFadden, an actor who's most notably known for his role as Ernie in Disney's K.C. Undercover. His acting credits also include Tyler Perry's House of Payne, Grown Ups 2, and Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors.
In this episode, Kamil talks about:
· His mother's impact on his life and career (12:50)
· COVID-19 takeaways and shift to video poetry (14:54)
· What it takes to live without expectations (26:00)
· The acronym of SERVE (32:29)
· Most memorable auditions and acting roles (50:15)
· Passion for photography and other hobbies (55:05)
In this episode, I have a creative conversation with my pal, Kamil McFadden. He’s an actor most notably known for his role as Ernie in Disney's KC Undercover but his acting credits also include Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Grown Ups 2, and Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors. In this episode, Kamil talks about what it's like growing up as a Disney child star. Trust me, Kamil does not hold back. He also talks about why he's trying to live his life via the motto of SERVE, which you'll find out what it stands for later in the episode. Lastly, we talk about the effect that the pandemic add on him and how he had to realize that he's more than an actor. It helped him to pursue other aspects of his creativity, such as bringing his poetry to life via visuals and also exploring his interest in photography. Also, only after you finished this full interview, head over to the Pol and Pals Newsletter to read a breakdown of a key aspect from this episode, in addition to helpful resources to help you on your journey to creating the life that you want to live. Without any further ado, let's get creative.
When I do my research and see the history and stuff, it’s like watching you grow up in all these different interviews and appearances. It’s funny seeing you right now fully grown.
I know it is. I think a lot of people feel the same way. That’s life. You knew me as not being me right now.
When I think about child stars, Disney gets this weird wrap of like, “These kids are not growing up.” First of all, I want to start like, “Blink twice if you’re good.”
We don’t have those shenanigans in my family. I don’t have to worry about that.
I usually start with how we met or whatever. Interestingly enough, I interviewed JoJoe Earley and the moment we ended the interview, he was like, “You got to talk to my boy, Kamil.” He sent me to you at that moment. Shout out to him because I love talking to JoJoe. I'm sure you'll bring some of the same energy. It was funny, I asked him one question and he just took over. He started saying his story. It was an easy interview. He's a real dude. You were in Atlanta wrapping up a movie. How was it? Can you tell us what you're working on right now or is it low-key?
The last time I was in Atlanta was to visit family. I’m in talks to work on a project. I got something that I’m filming down there. I got to keep that under wraps for this because we haven't finalized quite a bit of info, but I’m working on coming back to the movie screen. It is a movie and the story is very familiar. It's a hot topic. It’s an Atlanta-based film story. The main character is something that is best known in the South.
One thing I learned about Atlanta is that the film industry is growing up there. I had somebody randomly reach out to me on LinkedIn because he saw my tagline. He was telling me like, “I want to become an actor.” I know you grew up in Atlanta for the most part. Can you share a little bit about how the film industry is changing out there?
To be honest, I transitioned to California right before Atlanta became what it is. Either from me growing up there and going back there is a whole new world. Tyler Perry owns all of Fort McPherson, so it’s the biggest studio in the country. Everybody shoots everything there, from Fast and Furious to anything Marvel. He has a monopoly on the industry down there. To see the growth from the outside has been wild like the Black Hollywood. That's cool to see. I haven't had a chance to experience it because I transitioned out here. I've been in Cali for ten years, so I had two stages of growing up. I was raised in Atlanta from a kid to fifteen and then I moved out here when I was fifteen. From 15 to 25, I was in the crowd. What Atlanta is doing is great and it's giving opportunities for a lot of the people I know that are still down there grinding. It’s giving them those opportunities because of how close it is. Before, the industry used to be like, “You had to move out here in order to take that next step.” Now you don't have to do that. If you're in Atlanta and you know the right people, you’re good. That's a beautiful thing.
Speaking of opportunities, when you're younger, you have this written goal of wanting to meet or at least to work with Tyler Perry and he gave you that opportunity with House of Payne. I heard that you were in that and I was trying to find the episode because I used to watch that heavy with my mom. Tell us about that. How did that even opportunity come to be?
It was networking and auditioning. I was with an agency down there called J Pervis and I auditioned for them. They loved me. I met Roger Bob, who was the casting director at that time. He loves me. My ability to follow instructions was always super sharp. That's one of the things that he loved. I ended up getting that role. The week before I even got the opportunity to audition, I had written it down in a journal like, “These are my goals and what I want to do,” and then a week later, I got it. It was an eye-opening thing for me. At that time, I still probably didn't understand the gravity of the manifestation. Once you write it, it becomes tangible. I didn't realize those things. Now at this age, looking back, it was a powerful thing. That was the first step in me realizing the power that I have, like life and death and the power of the tongue, being able to speak that and then it happened a week later. I have been working on maintaining and keeping that, but it was a great experience. I never got a chance to actually meet Mr. Perry but they love me enough to bring me back for the second episode before the first episode was even done. I got to work with China, who I have worked with three times in my career at different times, but we always love interests. Also, the last time that we worked together, which wasn't the first fine moment. I love working with her on Grown Ups 2 years later.
She was part of all these things. I used to watch Growing Ups. That's dope. That's China McClain for people that might not be familiar. I want to go back to when you talk about manifestation and goals. Do you remember how old you were when you wrote that down?
I know I was double digits, but I wasn't too far. Probably between 10 and 12 when I wrote that.
I didn't know about the organization aspect of writing down my goals. I'm turning 26 on September 8th, 2021.
I’m September 10th.
What do you get up for your big 25?
Content creation success only comes when you detach yourself from the numbers and its overall outcome.
I'm trying to work. COVID has changed the dynamic of my work environment. I haven't been able to work because it spikes every other week. They don't have it under control. It's been a little difficult to be sitting around. I'm writing my own stuff. I’m still staying active and creative. Having that big network behind you to push you, make you visible, having that exposure and stuff like that have been difficult to adjust to. I would love to work on my birthday, to be honest. I haven't done that. I would enjoy that to get me back in the mindset outside. It's like it's open but it's not open. I was trying to go to Puerto Rico for my birthday, but I’m making sure I make the right decisions and then finances as well. COVID hit a lot of people hard and if it wasn't already on, then you’re trying to stay afloat and maintain. That's mostly what my decision came from. I'm trying to maintain. I'm not trying to do anything too crazy. I'm trying to get back on course when it comes to my career, and we can have all that fun stuff later. That's where I'm at with mind. What about you? What are you going to do?
I'm going back to Michigan with my girls. It is going to be their first time. I know you were born in Michigan, right?
I went to the University of Michigan. I'm going back to Michigan with my girl. I'm in Houston right now, so we’re going up there. She's going to meet the family for the first time. Officially, since January of 2020, it's been serious. We're both Nigerian, so I’m like, “I'm going to show you my family.”
I feel like I'm an honorary Nigerian because that is the main African that I'm around, especially out here in Cali. Most of my experiences have been Nigerians, a few Haitians and 1 or 2 Jamaicans, but the Nigerians and the Haitians are starting to make me think I got to be Nigerian or Haitian or something. We rock and we mesh too well.
I'm the head leader. I accept you. You’re one of us now.
I appreciate it.
Come down to Houston.
My brother is in Houston. We used to stay there, so that's easy.It's deep out here. I got one on the tangible. One thing that I was thinking about when you mentioned the whole goal setting and you're young. Growing up, your mom had a huge impact in your life, especially when it comes to acting. Was she the blueprint for how you go about what you do when you stay to it? Where did you get that energy to be like, “Let me write down my goals. Let me manifest all that stuff?” That was definitely her because I was always one of those people’s kids where I'll be like, “I don't need to write this stuff down. There is a vault up here. It's locked.” She was like, “Write it down, make it tangible, and then you create the steps under that.” Once I did that, I saw that and for some reason, I’d be like, “I should do that more often.” She was the blueprint for my work ethic and going after the things that I want. She always reinforced and instilled in me that I can do whatever I put my mind to. She is a superwoman superhero to me. I wouldn't be anywhere without her because she's the one who came out here with me to California. We took that leap of faith together. She believed in me so much and that speaks to Black women in general. I feel like it's a superpower when you're with Black women and they got this belief in you. It makes you want to go extra hard. Having that as my backup is easy. I can do whatever. She is the key to it all, honestly.
You mentioned your brother. I know he is in his own right doing his own thing with football. I don't know if he is still playing for Toronto.
He's not anymore. He is working on training again and getting himself back to being in the league. His path has definitely been in a very unique way. He still has the capability and this is about getting his body right in order to do what he got to do. We always keep each other sharp as far as our journey and goals. We’re keeping each other accountable like, “If you want this, you are doing everything that you need to in order to get there.”
I’m glad you say that. I honestly think that we’re all in that rebuilding and figuring out who the hell we are because we all know what happened. We don’t get to rehash it. It’s very interesting just to see everybody figuring out like, “I got to do more work on myself.” I want to ask you, what’s a big thing that you have taken away from the pandemic and COVID so far?
Everything that you said like, “Who am I?” I've been doing this since I was eight years old and I'll be 25 in September 2021. For more than half of my life, I've been a part of an industry that tells you what to do, who you are, who to be, what to wear, and what's your interests should be. I didn't have that knowledge for myself. Having a world being put on pause, not just me but a lot of people that I speak to who went through it as well, realizing we are human beings outside of this industry and career. If I never show up on a TV screen or a movie screen ever again, I still know that I'm worthy and valuable. For me, the main thing was realizing who I am without the actor title to me. I'm all these things. It’s so much more. An actor is only one sliver of everything that I have to offer. It was an uncomfortable thing because one of the main quotes of the industry is “fake it until you make it.” I let that become a lifestyle that was everything. The pandemic happened and then it was like, “This ‘fake it until you make it’ lifestyle is not it because you’re lying to yourself. If you’re not honest with yourself, you can't be honest with anybody.” I had moments like depression because I identified myself only when I was working. I saw my value in myself when I was working. When I wasn't, I was like, “What's going on? This is foreign to me. I've not worked before for this long. What is up?” Now, I start questioning myself like, “Is it me? What's going on?” It pushed me to develop my relationship with God even further and realize that he's not going to bring me this far to only let me get this far, number one.Number two, to not seek outside validation. The only validation that I need is from him. Three, I am who I am because of him. I got to the point and developed that part of the relationship with God to where I was explaining how Black women make me feel about believing in me that’s superpowered. It’s the same thing with God, who can be against me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Those are the three main things that I did to develop and move past that temporary feeling of unworthiness and view myself with low self-esteem. I blew up my foundation of what I thought was confidence and built it with the most solid foundation than it's ever been.
I interviewed somebody and she's a comedian. That's what she did growing up. She’s a screenwriter now. One thing that you spoke a lot about is that she struggled early on with depression. A lot of failures and even at times, suicidal ideation. One of the things was, as a comedian, your whole career is based on that instant validation. I like to interview content creators because 1) I relate to a lot of them. 2) I find them as the new entrepreneur. Outside of creating content, I feel that content creators are also creating this life that they want to live. You've mentioned that God is your foundation right now. Do you have any advice on how do we maintain our creativity and still create content for others to enjoy but not rest our full gratification based on the validation we get from it? How do you work on that for yourself?
One of the main things to do to achieve that is to detach yourself from the outcome. If you're creating content, it’s not attaching to the numbers. If I put out a video, and this is maybe my 1st or 2nd video, I'm not going to put an expectation on how well that video should do. If I put the video out and it only gets 50 views, I'm not going to feel bad about the 50 people who watched it because when you're attached to the outcome, you're like, “I expected maybe 100, 200 or 1,000.” That's an unrealistic expectation because, at the end of the day, you have to set a standard and then continue to be consistent in order to grow, but you've got to start somewhere. It’s starting with that 50 followers than starting it with 14 or 15. The main thing that I would say is detaching from the outcome, doing and putting out the content, whatever speaks to you, you put that out and from that audience, you'll find your audience instead of trying to tailor it to what you think people would like. Be you and the right people will gravitate to you.
Sometimes, you need to be the person people hate to get to the level you need to get to.
That's good advice. Even me, I still struggle with what I'm getting better at because when you're working on something, you have an idea like, “This shit fire.” When I dropped this, it's about to go up and then when you don't get that reaction, you're like, “These people are not fucking with it. They don't see the vision.” For me, I've looked at it in terms of what I can do to improve on it. Obviously, you can get down, but you have to think about it more like, “I could have done this intro scene better. I could have asked this question.”
I agree with don't be so set on, “I have to get this much views and likes,” but use it as a learning experience to grow. I know you're going through that because I've seen some of the work you've been working on with Purpose Media. Can you explain what you're currently working on? You dropped three short videos right now of poetry. You’re getting it in your bag. What are you up to?
I connected with Purpose. I'm not going to give her government because that's what she goes by. I met her through some people and we instantly connected. I saw the mind she has. I knew that bringing her along on this journey would help put a visual to my words. As I said, I've always known that I have these multiple talents like being a writer and poetry is one of them. I came up with this idea over the course of the pandemic. I was like, “What can I do in order to show people another side of myself?” I looked at the thing that I'm most comfortable with writing my poetry. I was like, “I should do visuals to them, almost like a music video because I don't see that often.” I'm sure you could find it, but for me, if you go through Instagram or Twitter, you don't see that often. I was like, “That could be my new little lane for people to see me in and view me in because they only see me as the characters that I've played, which are goofy, funny, and in the surface because there's so much more depth to me.” In the conversations that I had with Purpose, she understood the assignment. She was like, “This is perfect. This makes sense.” We wrote our storyboards and stuff like that. I read her the poem and then we will brainstorm the storyboard like what each scene would look, film it, and then I would go and record the audio to it. She would do the video, send it to me and then send me the cut. There was never a cut that she sent that I was like, “Can you add this for the visual instead of this.” It was always perfect. She did her thing, I did my thing and when it came together, it was magic. I'm super grateful for her. I tell her that all the time. She's super talented. I'm glad that she believed in me in this project enough to give her talent because she's worked with Justin Bieber, Megan Thee Stallion, and Cardi B. She's up there. She's doing her own thing. She had all these things going on throughout these visuals, which she still had the time. I feel the respect as well to get it to me in a timely manner. Of course, I wasn't putting any type of stipulations on it like, “Can I have this done by a certain time?” She was always checking in and letting me know like, “I haven't worked on the edits yet because I got this, but I'm going to get back to you.” It was a synchronicity to it that I haven't experienced before. It was great for that to be my first experience with her and her first experience with me as well because BPing at that stage and what we created is something that she hasn't experienced before. For her to co-direct, edit as well, put the music to it, and all of those things are something that she hasn't experienced yet. Having that film aspect to it with a hint of music video is a space that she hasn't been in before. For her to be comfortable enough to do that with me, I definitely don't take that lightly or for granted, so I appreciate her. She's fire.
You mentioned that you get into your poetry bag. One of the ones that stood out to me was the Life video. You had a quote about expectations. It’s something like, “Without expectation, one can truly live.” I would love for you to go into that a little bit more because I had a thought when you said that, but I would like to know what inspired that.
To give you a little backstory, I wrote Life right after Kobe passed away, maybe a week after. Why it resonated with me so much? I never liked Kobe but I always respected Kobe, the Mamba mentality and that whole thing. It was like, “That makes sense.” Why didn’t you like him?I don't know. I have always been a LeBron fan, so I think that has something to do with it, too. Also, I didn't understand like sometimes you can't be nice. Being nice gets you nowhere. Sometimes, you got to be an adult. Sometimes, you got to be the person that they hate in order to get to the level that you need to get to. Right before he passed away, I was watching quotes and interviews from him. I was like, “It’s starting to make sense.” This is crazy. How quickly life can pass you by. I was watching interviews and seeing that he won his Emmy or Oscar for his basketball project and then he's gone the next day. The whole living life without expectations thing came from. I feel like when we grow up, we have that space at the beginning of our lives where we're free to do whatever we do and explore. We get to school and that's where we start to be molded into things that maybe we don't necessarily want to be, but they want us to be, and then after school, it's like, “When are you getting married? When are you having kids? What do you want to be when you grow up?” It's cool at the beginning, but then once you get past those high school years, your life is formed before you like, “These are the things you need to have in order to have a successful life.” For me, that line is like, “Let it be what it is.” If at 25, you're engaged with somebody and you realize, “I'm not wrapping with this person anymore. They're not fulfilling me.” It's okay to cut it instead of being like, “Now we’re already engaged, we might as well go through with it.” It’s because you want it to cookie-cutter this perfect life. There's no such thing as a perfect life. Your journey is never going to be my journey. My journey is never going to be yours. That's what I mean with the expectation. I feel like marrying, job, six-figure lifestyle or whatever is a blanket thing. Not everybody wants that and that's okay. That's basically what I was saying with that. Mine is to figure out what you want your life to be and what you define success as, not this overall general generic definition because that'll force you to be living a life that's not you and chasing after something that you actually don't know. It was like, “I'm going to get this six-figure job that I hate. I want it because now I can say I'm a six-figure earner.” If you are not happy and you don't have joy in it, what's the point?
That's very relatable and it's weird too because what you just said is very good information and very good advice, but you wouldn't have got to that point of reason unless you had gone through those experiences and expected things. I've realized, even for me, I love financial literacy. I love to tell everybody like, “You should do this. Invest in that.” I realized that when somebody gets it is when they've gone through some shit, then they come to me like, “What were you saying about taxes again?” Now, they're invigorated. I feel like it's good to have these words of advice and all that stuff, but it seems like experience is what you can't teach. Everybody got to go through it. It's good to have the preferences, the words, the signs and posters but sometimes you got to let people go through it and figure it out.
That's a hard lesson to learn, but it is the truth. My mom always told me, “Experience is the best teacher.” Her philosophy is she needs to go through, so it makes sense. I've been in close contact with that, so I know that. My approach is more of a balance. If I know somebody has been through a situation that I haven't been in and they're trying to give me advice in order to not bump my head and go through that same thing, I'm going to listen. My mom is on the flip side. If you say the stove is hot, she’s not going to believe you until she touched her for herself. There are some people like that. On the flip side, you tell somebody the stove is hot and be like, “Thanks for letting me know.” It's that balance. You've got to figure out when it works for you and when it doesn't because there are certain situations where it's like, “I hear what you're saying, but I still want to see because I'm different.” I know that my journey is not your journey, but if you do, don't do the same thing like, “Basically, I needed to see for myself if that was going to be the same outcome or not, because I might have a different grace than you. I might be able to get that six-figure job that I actually love. Whereas you, he tried to tell me no, because it's not fulfilling.”
It's different because you can be making six figures and telling somebody that hasn't made that yet like, “You don't want this.” It's good to keep sharing the message. At the same time, let the people go through the experiences. I have a younger brother, six years younger than me, and he's going to the University of Michigan as well. I could have told him like, “Do this and that. Don't do this.” I do give him advice, but it's also some things that I have to add to hold back and be like, “I got to let Peter go through this.”
It’s just finding that balance.
That balance is key. I love that you're speaking like this because I’m trying to do my research on you throughout the years. As I said, you grew up in front of everybody's eyes. You've always had the same mentality. I even remember learning about Melanin Mondays back in the day where you were doing that show love and positivity. I saw your tweet about the acronym for SERVE.
I've tweeted it not too long ago. This is my mentor, who taught me the acronym for SERVE. It is Surrender, Energy, Relax, Victorious, Excellence. Surrender to whatever moment you're in. You have to bring good Energy, be Relaxed, already know that you're Victorious and you're going to do it in Excellence. If you have those things, there's nothing that anybody could say, no matter what position you're in, even as a janitor. If you remember those five things, those five letters, the acronyms to those, there's no way that anybody could make you feel bad about the image or anything like that because you remember those five points. Again, removing people's opinion of you, not letting whatever they think or feel validate or invalidate you despite, “This is my journey. This is what I'm supposed to do.” Figuring out what lesson you need to learn from being in that position.
Figure out what you want your success to be and not simply pursue a generic definition of it.
It's funny because, in the age of social media, that gets harder and harder. I wanted to ask you, growing up as a child, they had you on the internet early on. Is there one moment that sticks out where you had to go through a lot of invalidation or clockwise the validation? Do you have anything that sticks out to you?
For sure. Once I got on KC Undercover, that first three months, they were trying to invalidate me like, “Look at your teeth.” For a second, it was like, “That's crazy.” It hurts my feelings a little bit, but then on the flip side, you're trying to point out something that I have to see every single day. You're trying to make me feel a way about something that I've already come to terms with. What you see is a flaw is what makes me unique. When I smile, people know exactly who I am. It's my calling card and trademark. You're trying to make me feel bad about that makes me stand out from the crowd. This is coming from somebody who would rather fit in. For me, I had to learn and I always had to extend, but this is a different level because I'm going to a different level. This was right after one of the videos of that day with Zee and she ended up reposting it. I started getting tens of thousands of followers every day. It would jump. I went from 13,000 to 100,000 in a month and then 200,000 a month after. To get all of these new people coming to me and then having these comments, that's crazy how quickly they turn on you. Again, that's a part of it. It was definitely a character builder for sure. As I said, they're pointing out something that I've already come to terms with. It didn't hurt me as much as it would have if it was something new. If my hairline was messed up with something and I'm like, “This happened. I had a bad haircut one time and now, I won't go back.” Now, they're pointing to it. That's something that's new. Even me, I would have been in my infant stage of accepting that, but I've had this since I was a teen. They were saying crooked teeth and all of this stuff. It's not factual. My teeth aren't crooked. They got spaces in them. I go to the dentist every six months. My teeth are healthy. You're saying this but it's not adding up because when I go to the doctor, they're not saying that, “At one point, they were crooked. They are no longer teeth.” It's crazy because they were seeing that I was getting Invisalign. You may have been right at one point but you are no longer correct. Again, it's how I look at people who go out of their day or go out of their way to say things like that. I know that their life was as bad because why would you go to somebody else's page and project negativity like that unless you are experiencing that yourself and need a way to feel better about yourself, “I'm putting somebody else down.” That's the type of mind frame that I had. It's like, “I can't even be more because you probably hate your life. I'm sorry.” I'm sorry that I didn't think that this is going to make it better. That isn't the type of response that I have to make them think about the actions that they're taking. That's not going to help. That's not good for you. This is not good for anybody. I definitely had those moments and now I'm getting the flip side. I cut my hair. I cut the beard. I'm getting into being the grown man that I've known that I am and now keep for the fun started to see it. It's a little weird for me being like, “You’re fine.” For me, it's weird only because in my mind, I'm like, “You’re all being late because I've been new.” It's like, “You’re late to the game.” It doesn't hit me the way it would have because of what I've been through on this journey to get to where I am now. It's like, “The complements are cool. Thank you, but you're not telling me anything that I don't know.” Don't hit the same as if I was still trying to figure out who I am and everything that I am, flaws and all. I’m accepting all of that. Before, I would've been like, “They finally starting to know who I am.” We'll need that. If you tell me that I'm fine or not, it doesn't matter because I already know what I am. If you say it, cool, thank you. If you don't, cool, thank you. The show doesn't stop. We keep pushing it. I feel like this has given me an opportunity to speak on those things that I don't get a chance to speak on. I don't speak on them because it gives more light to that negative situation. Because you asked it, now I'm able to fully say it because people get the misconception that when you're a “celebrity” and I put quotation on that because the only thing that makes me that is because of the exposure that I have, not even a blue check makes you that, it's the separation of a celebrity from a regular person. We’re all humans in the day. I just so happen to make a little bit more money than you. That is it. That was the only thing that separates us. You see so much value in that you then placed me on this pedestal. Now, you feel like you have the ability or the right to speak on anything and everything that I do, regardless of if I want to hear it or not. You expect me to be okay with that and not bite back. It's like, “I'm a human. I don't want to hear what you got to say. You take that elsewhere.” People will, “When these celebrities pop that, F off,” but it's like, “I'm not about to sit here and take this because, at the end of the day, I'm a human being too. I have feelings as well. I may not show them. I may act like I don't care.” Best believe when the camera is off and I'm chilling in my bed. They’re only thinking about the comment that somebody made where they got me F up. That was like, “You thought that she was puffy. Get away with talking to me crazy.” That is why I went on that a little bit of a tangent. It was to let people know that it's not sweet over here. I'm trying to be positive, but we can get real. I don't like to do that because then that's them taking me out of myself. Everything was a choice. I choose to be joyful and positive. I could choose to be negative but that's going out of the choice that I to make because what you put out is what you get back. If I put out negative energy, then I'm getting negative. If I put out positive energy, I'm getting that back. That's why I always choose to respond positively because at the end of the day, how you feel, that's a projection. You're not a microchip that make me change how I feel about whatever.
Fame is different. I don’t want to be in your shoes, to be honest, because what's so weird is it's so common to comment on somebody's life that you don't know. Me, I have a regular profile. It's just people that know me that follow me. People aren't going through my comments like, “Paul, you fucking ugly as fuck.” Nobody is doing that because that's weird. I understand that you guys are going through that, but I also understand that you guys are responding. You can't beat the internet. No matter how nice the videos, no matter how long your comment is, no matter how respectful you are, you're not going to win.
It's crazy because even you’re saying that, the quote that popped into my head is something that I've been saying to quite a few people. Somebody is always going to have something to say, whether it's good or bad, regardless. That's what the internet is. It gives people the false right to believe that they can comment on whoever's life whenever, wherever. If you come with that mentality, it starts to phase you less and less the more you do it. Do you understand that Instagram and social media is a highlight reel? Nine times out of ten, you're never going to show the moments when you're down to that. Who wants to see that? Even though I feel like that would make more people realize like, “This man go through the same thing I go through.” Instead, be quick to make a meme and laugh about it and all that other stuff. Again, it's a way to invalidate us as human beings as well by making us feel like circus animals. You want us when you want us and when you don't, you can leave.
When you were starting this talk, you mentioned being on KC Undercover. What's funny about that is your TikTok bio is, “Don't ask me about what's her name.” I'm not even going to say her name because it's fun to just not say it, but I was more curious about how often do you even get asked about what's her name? Is it that crazy?
Every single day. It never fails. I used to get a lot of so often on Instagram like, “Where is it? Where was it?” “I don't know.” That's why I have this video. I'm like, “You’re asking me like I’m the fly on her freaking windows.” I don't keep tabs on this woman. Why would you think that I do? We're cool. That's my sister. Do you talk to your mom every day? Do you know where she is at all times of the day? No. Why don't you apply that logic to me? He asked dumb questions like, “What does her hair taste like?” Number one, it doesn't have a taste.
Social media never highlights people's low points. But most of the time, these are the things that truly matter.
Don't waste your time. What I want to get at is the show you were on with her, she produced. I'm assuming you learned a lot. You saw what the experience she had and I'm curious that inspired you to get into the producing bag. I don't know if you've done that or if you're working on something, but what did you take from there?
Most definitely, just seeing the way that she moves as a producer. She had a lot of creative control in the process. If there were any things that I didn't necessarily agree with, I run it by her and be like, “Do you think that you actually do this?” She would take it to them and then we either get changed or wouldn’t, but seeing how a producer works and also realizing that a TV producer is different from a film producer. I’m learning that difference as well. It definitely helped encourage me. I knew that was something that I would always want to do. It’s to step into all of the facets of the industry. My mindset is to take it one at a time. It’s to focus on one specific area at a time instead of trying to put my hand in different stuff because I've never been a good multitasker. I've learned that multitasking is fake. It's not a real thing. That helps my case because I've always been like, “Let me do this thing first. Once I get done with this thing, then I'll move on to the next thing.” Writing, directing, and producing have always been something that I wanted to do from an early age. My mom even was like, “You never thought about this or that now.” “I have mom, but I'm not there yet.” Now, I'm at that place where it's cool. Even the project that you were asking about that Atlanta project, I’m a co-producer on that. I'm taking the necessary steps in order to point myself and expand because how I see it is like an umbrella. You got the main thing and then you got all of the things that fall from under. For me, I feel acting is the main thing from it. It’s music, writing, standup, producing, and directing. There are so many different things within this umbrella that people don't know about and haven't experienced yet. This is about picking the right time to show that talent.
I agree with that because even me right now, I'm podcasting. If they first meet me, they might know me as a podcaster, but to me, podcasting is more of an outlet to have a conversation. Because of it, I'm also learning how to get better at things that I like. For example, we're doing this with video and audio. Since I edit all of my stuff, I've had to learn how to edit video, and it's fun. I want to start editing other types of things like vlogs and, potentially music videos.
I definitely relate to the fact that sometimes, you got to work on that one skill and the opportunities that come from it, you got to take that chance and see what happened. You might be trashed but see what happens and go from there. Speaking of being trashed, going back to KC Undercover, you mentioned that your first audition for it, you bombed it. You had the opportunity to come back and audition. Obviously, you got the part. I want to ask you, what was that experience like and what gave you the confidence to come back and change it all up?
That experience was so crazy because I had never bombed an audition like that before. Actually, that's not true. I had bombed it once before but it was different. With this one, the reason I say I bombed it is because one of my main gifts is the ability to take direction and redirection very well. This is a casting director who I have been in front of for years, so we had this rapport. I knew that she was rooting for me, pulling for me, and all of these things. I was calm when I went in the room with the things that she was saying, but for some reason, they were not hitting. It was like doing this is weird. This is so odd. I went out of it with no confidence like, “Who was that in there? That wasn't me. Who is this?” It's crazy because I ended up praying right after like, “God, even if I don't get this, give me the opportunity to show them that was a fluke. That never happened before and never will happen again,” A week and a half later, they were like, “You got a callback.” I said, “I already know what time it is.” Everything that she had told me during that when the second audition murdered so much so that the producer was like, “Who is this person? This is not who I worked the first time.” “I know. Tell me about it.” For me, it was knowing the amount of work that I put into it and that was not me. Again, I don't know what was happening there because I had never experienced something that before. I'm not able to understand the direction that you're trying to give me. That doesn't happen. It was foreign to me but it stretched me and it made me go harder. For that next audition, I was like, “I killed that thing.”
You said you haven't had any other bad auditions, but are there some notable roles that you might have auditioned for that we might be aware of, but you didn't get that? Do you want to share with us?
The Equalizer 2. The role that Ashton played. Fear Street on Netflix, the role that Benjamin Flores plays. That was the trilogy horror flick. BMS, I auditioned for that. I'm trying to think what else. It's crazy because you put me on the spot on how I operate when I audition for something. After an audition for it, I let it go. I won't harp on it. Euphoria asked me to audition for it. They asked me to audition for you Euphoria for McKay, but I couldn't do it. That's a heavy show. I am not going to lie. I'm there now, but at that time, when they asked me, I wasn't ready. Those are quite a few of the projects that I've auditioned for. I'm sure there's definitely more, but again, it doesn’t bother me because when I see it, I'd be like, “That was meant for that person. That makes sense.”
Outside of acting, I want to ask you about some of the other interests you have. Obviously, your name is Kamil and with cam, I saw that you have needing artistic minds. I see you get into your photography bag. You're bringing your own stuff to life. Have you always had that interest in that stuff? Did you get to a point of like, “Let me try this out?”
I feel I've always had an interest in it. It's about me actually getting behind whatever that tool, resource, and doing it. Me being an actor, I get photoshoots all the time. I'm asking questions about the camera, looking at the different angles, the textures and things like that. It got to a point where I was like, “I should do this too.” I pick up my phone and start taking pictures. From there, I saw the natural tab that I had. It's about honing that talent now. It’s the same thing with writing. I've been writing since I started in the theater group that I was in Atlanta, Youth Ensemble of Atlanta. They honed a lot of the skills that I have now. I have to attribute a lot of that to them. Shout out YEA. I appreciate you always. YEA forever. I always knew that I had these gifts. Again, it's about timing and when to release them. I'm very in-tune with that stuff. As I said, my relationship with God is everything and I put him first. I see the things that he's put in me and the different opportunities that arise in order for me to showcase that time.
We’ve been talking about your acting and your creative excursions, but I was curious, what else do you like to do for fun? What are your other hobbies and interests that somebody doesn't know that might not know about?
I love video games. Video games are definitely up there. I love bowling, and roller skating is fire to me. I like eating, even though this time, it’s not a hobby but I enjoy trying new foods. I realized I'm a culture fanatic. I love learning about new cultures. I guess infusing that with travel would be a big thing. Again, outside is not open. I can't travel the way that I want to, but I want to visit everywhere, honestly, like, “I liked this country. This country was cool, but I probably wouldn't come back.” Those are my main hobbies. Reading, as we come, is a very big hobby of mine. It’s a way to relax. I'm all about learning something new. New information to either applies to my life or skill to have. Languages always interest me. I'm still working on trying to be fluent in freaking Spanish because I took four years of that and I'm still not fluent. That's one of the ones that I would want to want to be fluent in. How are you trying to learn it? What are you, what are you doing to learn it? I was doing Duolingo. I have tested the whole thing and it takes me forever.
I’d be feeling trapped. That'd be like, “It's 50 days straight. Are you sure you don’t want to do it again?” If you miss a day, it's emailing you. I felt like a victim.
Create your own support system. Going through life is a task you cannot do all alone.
Learning Spanish, ASL is such a beautiful language to me. I want to learn that. I learned about this new language on TikTok called Tutnese, which is a language that Black-African-Americans enslave. They use it in order to communicate. When you realize what this language is, it sounds like gibberish. It makes sense that they were speaking this in the enslavers where they weren’t paying attention because they like, “This is gibberish,” but it is crazy. I haven't even dove into it the way that I want to, but we finally got something that we can connect to. That's one thing I want to say about TikTok. TikTok will bless you with all kinds of new information. Learning about that, I reached out to somebody, and they were like, “Here's the information. Keep it under wraps when you're trying to let a whole bunch of people. Learn this because in our culture, they take it and they replicate it.” It blows up when they replicate it. The original was like, "I've been doing this.” It's one of those things but languages, culture, food, rollerskating, and video games. I love basketball. It’s one of my favorites. I wish I was as good as my infatuation for it, but it's a practice thing. I don't put in the time, so I'm not that good at it. Those are the main hobbies and the things that I do in order to relax and reset.
I'd like to ask that because I think I'm very focused on creative creativity and creative content, but it's also good to know what makes a person whole. They're not just the actor or the poetry person. It does a lot to them. I'm glad you were open to share that. I don't want to take too much of your time too. You've definitely shared a lot with us. Before I let you go, one thing I would love to ask everybody and you probably already shared yours, if anybody doesn’t want to listen to a whole hour-long episode and they're reading my episode titles, I would like to know if you had to share a snippet or a word of advice based on your experience, what word of advice would you give for somebody on how to best create the life that they want to live?
The first thing that came to mind is your journey to create the best life that you want to live is that it's unique to you. Going back to this quote that I put in the Falling Life, “Live your life without the expectation of others. Don't go after whatever it is you want in order or in response to somebody’s validation or invalidation.” I'm going to do this because they don't want me to do it or I'm going to do it because they do want me to do it. It’s removing them and only looking at what do you want. Identifying that and then figuring out and collecting the people who will support you along this journey. You can't do it alone. Those would be the two things. Figuring out what you want to do that's unique to you and then collecting your team or support system because you can't do it alone.
I don't know why but that living without any expectations got to me. That's why I remembered it as I was talking about that. I really like that advice. I appreciate you sharing that. The reason I ask this thing is because words of advice are cool but 1) You need to keep hearing it, but then 2) They have been actionable. Somebody needs to be able to hear something that I talked about with the guests and be like, “The episode is over. Let me go do something.”
I'm glad that you're doing that. Obviously, you're doing the best that you can. I do hope that you're able to work in a couple of weeks so we can turn off our birthday. We try to be outside. That's another thing I was going to ask. People might be familiar with you, but I'm going to ask, do you have any things you want to promote right now, share your socials or anything that we can support you with?
All platforms, @Kamil_ McFadden. That's Instagram and Twitter. My YouTube is @KamilMcFadden. That's where I'm doing my visuals. Check it out. Like, comment, and subscribe. I'm trying to get better at doing YouTube videos and stuff again because me and my brother got a YouTube channel as well. Again, we're moving but the main socials are Instagram and Twitter. Like, comment, and share or whatever. Do what you do. Nobody is obligated to. Even if I’m like, “Let me promote this.” You're going to follow and if you're not, you’re not. That's who I am. Now, I'm using social media as a way to show more of my authentic self because, in this industry, it's all about image and brand. It's like, “This is a brand. This is the image. I have flaws just like you.” That's what it is and you got to take it.
When I first started out, I used to be like, “I don't know if I should say this or that.” I still try to be wise about the stuff that I do share, but people relate to people that are willing to be them. That's one of the reasons that obviously TikTok is blowing up while we can talk to people you and me. It's facts. I will let you go, but I do want to ask if somebody had to go check out a piece of your work, what would you recommend?
That's tough because my most notable thing, which would be KC Undercover, but I'd honestly say to go watch the first poem that I did, Soulmate because I felt that you get a full understanding of who I am. I would say if I could, I would say those two together. Watch KC Undercover and then watch that poem. You'll see, it's like, “That goofiness is in there, but I could be real. I could be down to Earth. I have some depth to me as well.”
To anybody reading, all my pals out there, always remember to stay creative. Peace.