Melbourne based actor Kelvin Taylor’s Australian Film debut with Gen-Z

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New Zealand- American actor and comedian Kelvin Taylor has had quite the eclectic background in entertainment. Being donned as The Fresh Prince of New Zealand by WBA Oceania Heavyweight Champion and Chef Julius Long, Kelvin’s voyage placed him from being a local icon to having a role in an Emmy Nominated production that would solidify a preview of success to come.

Kelvin understood the power of branding gaining a following on social media giant MySpace through the breakdance and Street dancing community. After being pictured with Pharrell Williams at a local mall, mid-Atlantic fashion designer Todd Askins recruited Kelvin for runway event for Shmack Clothing. Shmacks joint collaboration with Billionaire Boys solidified the beginning of the urban fashion explosion of the mid-2000’s reflected in HBO’s cult classic How To Make It In America”

These sequence of events lead him from chatting to a young Tyler The Creator as Ace The Creator, Tila Tequila and pushing him to build bonds that lead to working in the music industry in Australia and later New Zealand. Diversifying substantially in art, he would eventually sign to modeling agency and shine at the 41st Annual International Emmy’s solidifying his place in entertainment.

Kelvin with countless credits and accolades to his name, at the height of the 2020 global pandemic he decided to develop other aspects of community outreach. His charity The Pacific African TV and Film Collective was birthed out of a need for more African inclusion for both diverse programming and opportunities in local film in Asia-Pacific. New Zealand incorporates ESG but seemingly for commercial reasons and this prompted Taylor to help Africans from being a after thought.

Today, with an invaluable amount of credits to his name, Kelvin find himself in his first overseas home in Australia. Fresh off from working as a stuntman in Taika Waititi’s upcoming Apple TV / Paramount + production of Time Bandits, he prepping for his Australian Indie film debut. Having recently signed with Hansen Management in Melbourne, Australia , his International Team in New Zealand and The United States are all geared up for things to come.

Navigating a world predicated on someone else selecting you has to be challenging. How has sustainability played a part in keeping opportunities advantageous?

I’ve had a passion to connect people be that in Film or Music. Life is about people more so than perceived independence. There is no achievement without the gratefulness to understand the fruit of life with love and business is in partnerships. Nurturing relationships is key component and being a spark of energy or comedy wherever I am placed because that optimism has served me well. There are Jewish principles I admire to make all arrangements lucrative for all parties involved beyond myself. If I can help 5 people consecutively, why not.

African Americans unless they are a Military GI or Athlete hardly ever get the chance to live abroad, has social challenges played apart in your journey to success?

Professionally, I’ve been grateful for being a working actor for 13 years. Throughout this journey, the craft forces you to self improve not only in technique but in your personal development. It’s hard to be empathetic when it is not apart of your lexicon. So as all things do, you evolve which innately causes you to examine your closet and gifts. Shapeshifting is something African American’s are indirectly trained to do to be embraced on a planet where we must speak English to survive. One day I am Stuntman training with Dayna Grant, next day studying with Dame Miranda Harcourt or being a comedic YouTuber on Dudes Brewing Podcast, so growth is a must. Aspects of your humanity are constantly tested for relatability and authenticity for an audience.

In the Post-Me Too Era, some say there is an over correction in pop culture. As a male, has your ability for expression been stifled for yourself or others performers?

In Hollywood, there tends to be allot of group think, instead of individual thought. This keeps entertainer on edge to follow whatever is most popular to be “chosen”. Those that are chosen, like to remind people “they are chosen”, it’s a bizarre thing. Due to this, many self-censor to not state how they truly feel. I went from dealing with inclusion, to someone telling me I have an advantage due to the patriarchy. Then I’m taken back thinking, does this person not see I am African? It feels like the Oppression Olympics for privileged people. And for some, it seeming being manufactured. Through division, people in power can pass policies unbeknownst on our behalf.

Has the industry become more tribal because of diversity?

Diversity is a beautiful thing, however in New Zealand for example, Africans are not treated as locals. MMA Champion Israel Adesanya spoke of his treatment and I can attest to this. For example, the Pan-Asian community in Film have a voice But there is little effort for diverse inclusion. The inclusion caps off at being of Asian descent or your sexuality. In contrast, African Americans have a base but they are not actively disregarding other ethnic groups. On an island, insecurity is present and peoplefeel it’s not enough light for everyone. think it’s better if people recognising were all in the same boat, help one another by building a table for everyone. Casting lack of inclusion was not nefariously done in America but is reflective of fraternal orders that established it. Despite the brochure America sold the world, having historical context on systems makes things less offensive.

Race-swapping as of late has been a big topic. What are your thoughts?

Race swapping in reverse is honestly I think a step backwards for community and common unity. Actors want opportunities but with race-swapping, actors face the brunt of the backlash. Studios ultimately control what is put out, not the actors. Polarisation around genders or race can create profit but does divisive division serve our already fractured planet? Are we telling a vision that helps? Diverse programming is ideal instead of universal homogeneity that is formulaic. If an original Polynesian IP like Moana can be made by Disney, then there is no excuse for not telling original stories. African America fans feel cheapened by this or receiving hand-me-downs of someone else’s culture. We may not have been written for Harry Potter, but that’s excitement for a new IP that people will support how Pasifika people did for Moana. Otherwise you can’t blame anyone forstating the obvious of exploitative issues around race, that is reminiscent of African Americans being exploited in the 1970’s. Yearly, my people are exploited for outrage with police shootings and doing so I’d like to see humankind finally able to unpack the trauma and the armour.

How do you navigate trends?

Trends can sometime equally predicability, formulaic and in the end produce mediocrity.With social media, fans have a voice and you can not demonise your paying customer. In every business model, the customer is always right except in entertainment, lol. That aside, Performers are now pressured to be activist or avoid matters all together. It’s a strange world to navigate bc actors are now politicised. However your authenticity at-least means you are reliable. It’s served Tom Cruise well.

What’s the best advice you’ve gathered over 13 years in the Entertainment Business?

Maintaining your own personal branding is important. Anyone can frame and paint you however they like, if you are not the person telling or documenting your story. Personhood, being an effective communicator plays an important asset to your bankability and so does valuing your audience.

These topics are apart of Generation Z, is this helping you prepare for your Australian Film debut?

Certainly, this project helps examine the effects of social media, social systems, social engineering, mobile systems that has us all in a social experiment. Weather this is causing longterm neurosis on us, our children or in fact enhancing our ability to adjust cognitively remains to be seen. The hope is for the latter of the two but we are being inundated with content, augmented reality, virtual reality, AI voice, art, writing with Chat GBT and deepfakes. Presenting who you are authentically has become more vital than ever. Obtaining information in its original state for evidential purposes will become key. Not giving an algorithm, software or a group incentivised to control the narrative to much authority. Needless to say, this film is a thrilling topic. Actually my first short film was called “The Pick Up” through Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia in 2009 so this project is a homecoming for me. What keeps me grounded is remembering the only thing between the sun and the soil is you and I, so always stay connected.

Photo Credits – Mark Leedom

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