Malcolm David Kelley began his acting career at the young age of five, since then, he has appeared in numerous commercials and made guest appearances on various TV series including “Lost,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Girlfriends,” “Bones,” and the “Closer.” However, most fans may recognize Kelley from the film, “Antwoine Fisher,” where he played the title character as a child or his role as Lil’ Saint in the 2004 film “You Got Served.” Fast forward 20 years later, the L.A. native is all grown up and is in the 2017 film, “Detroit” as Michael Clark. The film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, takes the audience back to the 1967 Civil Unrest in Detroit, where a police raid breaks out resulting in what is known as one of the largest race riots in U.S. history. The plot is centered on the Algiers Motel incident and involves the death as well as brutal beatings of Black men. The cast of “Detroit” includes John Boyega, Algee Smith, Anthony Mackie, Will Poulter, and many more.
Kelley describes this role as one of the most challenging to prepare for.
“Also with it being a time piece in ’67, you just try to tap into that mind state and understand this character and some of the things he was going through, that I necessarily didn’t have to go through. I tried to put myself in his situations,” he said.
The actor goes on to say he would like audience members to takeaway a piece of history.
“I think this is really important and [an event] I think we should all have the knowledge on and I can’t wait to see where this movie can go. I want to see it end up in some schools and have kids learn about certain situations,” he said.
Although Kelley enjoys acting, he is just as passionate about his music career. In 2013, he and actor Tony Oller created the music pop group MKTO. The two met while working together on set of the Teen Nick TV series “Gigantic” and formed a brotherhood.
“[With] us being actors [we] understand [that] we kind of have to start from the bottom, just introducing ourselves as musicians now and trying to gain that respect for being artist,” said Kelley.
The pop duo went from opening up shows to headlining their own tours. Kelley describes the last couple of years of MKTO’s music career as a “world wind” and a dream that he got to see and live. Since then, Kelley and Oller have been focusing on building an “organic fan base.” Aside from working with Oller, Kelley is also the executive producer and writer for the rap group, “America’s Most Hated.” Currently, Kelley is focusing on passing along the knowledge he has learned to help others create great music.
As a young Black entertainer, Kelley has remained humble throughout his career and gives all credit to his support system.
“Honestly I think it’s all about having a good support system around me. My family, my team, my agent, my manager, and just my friends,” he said. “I remember growing up, nobody really treated me any different. Looking back, being in the lime light, or doing movies and stuff, it never really felt too industry to me. I didn’t look at myself as a movie star or a superstar, even though that was some of the stuff I was doing. I just wanted to be able to keep reaching people and touching people on a certain level with film. [I am]getting older and experiencing new roles and just entering that adulthood as well.”
Next on the horizon for the busy entertainer involves a new mini-series and a role in the film, “True to the Game,” working along co-stars Erica Peeples and Vivica A. Fox. The film is set to release in September. The entertainer will also make an appearance on Issa Rae’s HBO series “Insecure.”
He hasn’t forgotten about his MKTO fans, new music is definitely on the way! Stay up to date with Kelley’s latest projects by following him on Instagram and Twitter @therealmalcolm. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets to the film, “Detroit” when it hits theaters August 4.