Keith Powers Talks ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ Leaving Football Behind and Playing the Villain
Biopics can often be nerve-wracking experiences for all of those involved. Paying homage to actual people and portraying their lives in a real and fair way can certainly put a lot of pressure on the actors involved with the project. Hence, it goes without saying that expectations often run high, especially from fans and those who knew (or know) the person being depicted — and sometimes even the person themselves. However, if the actor is fearless, the experience can be one of the best that he or she has ever had. Take, for example, Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Ray Charles in Ray (2004). He was so extraordinary that it earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Likewise, Angela Bassett’s depiction of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It? (1993) is still one of the best performances I have ever seen by any actor on screen. With only a few years of acting under his belt, 22-year-old Keith Powers is already making a name for himself in the entertainment industry. A former football player turned model/actor, Powers is best known for his role as the charismatic “new kid,” Theo (aka Anthony), in MTV’s groundbreaking series Faking It. However, after this summer’s premiere of the highly-anticipated N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton, a film that chronicles the rise and fall of the pioneering hip-hop group, everyone will see how fearless he really is. In fact, he’s got the real makings of a leading man. In the film, Powers portrays Dr. Dre’s younger brother, Tyree Crayon, who died in 1990 while Dr. Dre was on tour with N.W.A.
With the media mogul’s blessing, Powers was able to pay homage to a man long gone, but one that is still tremendously important to Dr. Dre’s life. This certainly was no easy feat, embodying a loved one of a powerful cultural figure has to be mind-boggling. However, it sounds like Powers really nailed the role. “He gave me all of these amazing things, and now I get to give him his little brother on film, in front of everybody. And from what I heard, he really liked my performance,” he tells us.
Taking time out of his increasingly busy schedule, Powers chatted with us about the buzz surrounding the upcoming biopic, his move from the sports world into entertainment, and his “man crush” on Brad Pitt, all while showing us just how diverse and talented he truly is.
GALO: I’ve been really looking forward to chatting with you about your upcoming projects and all of the great things that you’ve been working on.
Keith Powers: Thanks.
GALO: I read that you ended your football career and turned to acting and modeling. How different are these two worlds for you? Do you have any regrets about leaving the sporting world behind?
KP: First of all, yes, they are totally different worlds. Football is a competitive sport. I come from Sacramento, California, and how I was raised [was that] either you were playing sports or you were a scholar — or you were both. The area of Sacramento that I [grew] up in was the type of environment where you feel like there isn’t too much else to do. You’re going to have a regular nine to five [job], you’re going to be a lawyer or a doctor, or you’re going to be in the streets.
It’s two different worlds because when you get the opportunity to be a model and travel the world, you meet these photographers, these beautiful women, and these other models. Of course, you have the other side of that. You have to deal with the people in the industry who act bourgeoisie, but that’s any aspect of life, you’re [always] going to run into those types of people.
GALO: Of course, they are everywhere.
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Image: Keith Powers/Marc Cartwright.