Multi-talented actor, model, and athlete, Kelsey Caesar has made an impact in the film industry for over a decade, starring in a variety of notable films. From his debut screen role in the 2008 biopic, The American Dream, to his latest film directed by Bill Posley which was featured at SXSW this past March, his career has been going from strength to strength. He made his box office debut starring alongside Chris Staples, Michael Irvin, and Jose Canseco in the 2017 film Slamma Jamma, and recently worked with director David Katzenburg on his new Disney+ series Just Beyond. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Caesar was ranked as one of the top track and field athletes in his school days prior to his career working as an actor. Read our exclusive interview with Kelsey Caesar to learn more about his journey.
You are from Houston, Texas – can you share a bit about your childhood growing up there? We understand you were a champion track and field athlete in school?
My upbringing has shaped my life in so many ways. I grew up in a traditional middle-class family with my mom, dad, and older brother. My family structure made me feel like I could relate to the families I watched in ’90’s sitcoms. I was involved in competitive sports at an early age, participating in baseball, football, and track, which facilitated my drive to be successful. In track and field, I did it all! High school, USATF Junior Olympics, on the collegiate level and professionally. My specialty was the open 400m, 200m, and the relays!
How did you get into acting and modeling? Did you always also want to be a performer?
I started gaining acting interest in jr. high, participating in some acting and theater arts activities. I started pursuing the TV/film aspect when I was in high school. While focusing on track and field in high school, I managed to score a couple of local commercials and TV/film projects during my off-season. That’s pretty much when it started.
How did your background in athletics influence your career as a performer? Do you find it gave you the discipline required to make it in the entertainment industry?
I think it gives me some edge because in both instances it requires total discipline and dedication to be good at what you do. In the world of competition, you are always in the process of development and improvement. Both activities require confidence, believing in yourself and your abilities. I used all these attributes to help me navigate through the entertainment aspect and it hasn’t failed me.
You have been acting for over 10 years with several major networks, can you share some of your most memorable experiences along the way? Any projects that really resonated with you?
I remember my first film, which was the Houston rapper Mike Jones’s story, American Dream which aired on BET. That was a great experience because I got to see how the day-to-day movie set worked. I’ll never forget that experience because it was my first gig ever and it confirmed to me that this is something I really wanted to pursue.
You made your box office debut starring alongside Chris Staples, Michael Irvin, and Jose Canseco in the 2017 film Slamma Jamma – can you tell us about your role in that film?
In this film, I played Taye who was Michael (Chris Staples)’s younger brother. Michael, a potential NBA lottery pick was wrongfully accused and sent to prison. After serving time in prison, Michael finds his little brother Taye heading down the wrong track. Michael makes amends and gets Taye back on track. Chris Staples and the other basketball athletes were amazing. It was great working with the other castmates, especially Michael Irvine. My dad used to take me and my older brother to Austin every summer to watch the cowboys practice when Michael Irvine was still playing. Felt like a full-circle moment for me.
You recently worked with director David Katzenburgon on his new series: Just Beyond on Disney +. How did you get cast on that project? Can you share some experiences working on that production?
I auditioned for it and booked it. I thought working with David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame Smith was great and I had so much fun. As I mentioned earlier, it’s about having confidence and believing in yourself and your abilities. One experience I’ll never forget is getting on set and having to learn a full cheer dance routine in 10 min. before shooting, while everyone else had previously practiced the routine. I nailed it! That made the experience memorable.
In March your highly anticipated all-Black cast slasher film “Bitch Ass” was screened at SXSW Film Festival? Did you attend the festival? Can you tell us about the movie and your role in the film?
Yes, I went to SXSW! It was an amazing experience, especially being from Texas, it felt like a bit of a homecoming for me with a real accomplishment. The community in Austin was so fun and friendly at the festival. Bitch Ass is about a gang initiation that goes wrong when a group of four recruits breaks into a house of horror, as they’re all forced to play deadly games for their lives. Win and you live – lose and you die. In the movie, I play Tuck, the young gang member who is also the nephew of Spade, the gang leader, played by Sheaun McKinney (CBS: The Neighbors). I lead the group of teens that break into the game house. Noted others in the movie were Tunde Laleye, Bitch Ass (Marvel: Black Panther) and Legend, Tony Todd (Candyman).
What was it like working with director Bill Posley?
Working with Bill was awesome. He and Jonathan Colomb who also co-wrote and produced the film were an awesome team. Bill had a specific vision; he knew what he wanted and allowed us to deliver. I really enjoyed working with both Bill and Jon. There is an appreciation and respect towards his work that aspires you to deliver.
What are some of your favorite films that have inspired you along the way?
Oh I have so many. Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean and Natalie Woods. Jim Carrey’s Ace Venture Pet Detective. I loved Alfred Hitchcock movies also, his odd and creepy films always kept me interested. I feel like Jordan Peele is very similar.
If you could work with your dream cast, who would it be?
I’d love to work with Viola Davis, Leo DiCaprio, Michael B Jordan, Jessica Chastain, Zendaya, and Denzel Washington.
When you aren’t performing, what do you like to do in your free time?
I still maintain a physical training regimen. I go to the gym 4 days a week and run 3 days a week. I love watching animal documentaries. Currently watching President Obama’s Netflix series called Our Great National Parks. I love it!
Tell us about your passion for the environment? Are there any foundations you are supporting at the moment?
I have always been passionate about the environment and animals! As I mentioned before, I watch so many animal documentaries and environmental documentaries. My dad and I love nature. When he lived in Alaska, we would go hiking and fishing for halibut and salmon. Alaska is a beautiful place and it was so cool to see everything as nature intends it to be. One foundation I’m still currently a part of (although I haven’t had any time to foster due to my schedule) is Best Friends LA. In 2020, I fostered a beautiful pup named Gemma. She had such a beautiful and kind spirit. Luckily she was able to be adopted by an amazing family. A real happy ending for Gemma.
Do you have words of wisdom or a motto you live by?
“I’ll never forget where I’m from. It’s essential to remain humble and evolving.” I love this quote because no matter how far you have gone in life, everything you’ve worked for and achieved started because of where you came from. Your home, family, and all the people who have impacted your life in some way. All of those things live with you. What else can we look forward to from you in 2022? Any other exciting projects on the radar you can share?
I have another film coming out later this year with the legendary Tony Todd. Stay tuned for that!
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