On the Move with Kendrick Cross By Ca ro l Bada r acco Padge t t
T he road from Louisville, KY, to Atlanta is roughly 420 miles long. But for Louisville- born actor Kendrick Cross, the trip took much longer. Between the Bluegrass State and the Peach State, Cross’s family lived in Germany, Japan, and Columbia, SC. He reminisces, “I started over 20 years ago. I always wanted to act, but never knew how to get into it.” During the time he called Columbia, SC, home, Cross appeared in his first play. A mentor, director Darian McCloud (one acting influence among “too many to name”), taught Cross a great deal. “I ‘hated’ him during that run, but in a good way, because he really pushed me and taught me how to act,” he remembers. “Needless to say we sold out all the shows and, for that reason, I love doing theatre to this day and wish I could do more.” Cross’s time in the Carolinas proved pivotal once again when a friend introduced him to an agent in Charlotte, NC. “I took a few of his acting classes and booked my first TV commercial for Harris Teeter straight out of them,” he says. “And then I booked my first TV show, Dawson’s Creek , immediately after that.” Perseverance has paid off for Cross. Because once his TV work began, the rest of his acting career took off like a Derby thoroughbred. Current work includes playing the character Titus Hughes in Will Packer’s Ambitions , alongside actresses Essence Atkins and Robin Givens. “I love playing Titus, as he and I are very similar in the whole good guy thing,” Cross notes of the character. And yet he admits having to work hard in the role. “The biggest challenge, especially in the beginning, was the sheer amount of studying I had to do,” he says. “Transitioning from guest star, co-star, day player to series regular is not an easy task.” When he first came to the set of Ambitions , there were nerves to contend with, too. As Cross says, “Even being on set with acting greats like Essence and Robin, I wanted to make sure I could keep up with their greatness and not hold the scene back by being unprepared.” In addition to his work on Ambitions , Cross appears in 2019’s Richard Jewell , directed and produced by Clint Eastwood; CW’s Black Lightning series; Overcomer , a Christian film produced by Georgia’s Kendrick Brothers; the 1995 horror-comedy-drama anthology, Tales from the
Actors Kendrick Cross, Essence Atkins and Robin Givens
Photo courtesy of OWN
Hood 2 , executive-produced by Spike Lee; Mr. Mercedes , a crime drama TV series based on a trilogy by Stephen King; the 2018 political drama The Front Runner ; and primetime series Dynasty , to name a few. Along with noting the discipline and hard work that goes into creating a successful acting career, Cross offers practical advice for up-and-coming talent. “Training is critical,” he says. “A well trained actor is a working actor. And have fun. Don’t overthink everything. Just be a human on camera and you’ll be fine.” Once an actor begins working in the industry, Cross says it’s important to cultivate an approach to the craft that works for them. “My process is simple … I break down the script first—finding the who, what, why, and when of a scene—determining my state of being and circumstance,” he shares. “I stick with it unless a director says ‘let’s try it another way.’ Then I put my ‘Kenny’ on it—I make it mine and go from there.”
Downtime, too, is essential for a working actor to keep in the mix, Cross notes. “I work out a lot, and I enjoy going to the movies every week. I also like calling up close friends to hike, ride bikes, or meet up and hang out. Life is so short that I want to enjoy all aspects of it.” He’s also mindful to give back to others, including the towns on his journey since childhood that have been so important to him. “I was recognized with the key to the city in my hometown of Louisville, KY, and also in Columbia, SC,” he notes. “And I hope to earn more of them.” What does Cross see as the next moves in his acting career? “I want to continue with Ambitions , and I definitely want more leads in feature films. And I would love to be a superhero in one… don’t we all?” he smiles.
Follow Cross on Instagram and Twitter: @kennythepoet.
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