INTERVIEW: Skylan Brooks on His New Action Thriller ‘Archenemy,’ Newest Album, Favorite Television Role, and Future Projects
Catch up with actor Skylan Brooks and his newest action-thriller, Archenemy.
Skylan Brooks isn’t new to the big screen and working alongside heavy-hitting legends as he now co-stars alongside Joe Manganiello in the upcoming 2020 action thriller Archenemy, which had its world premiere at Beyond Fest in October and is scheduled to be released nationwide in theaters and on-demand on December 11.
Archenemy was directed and written by Adam Egypt Mortimer. The film follows Max Fist (Manganiello), a tough bearded guy claiming to be a hero from another dimension who fell through time and space to Earth, where he has no powers. No one believes his stories except for a local teen named Hamster, played by Brooks. Together, they take to the streets to wipe out the local drug syndicate and its vicious crime boss known as The Manager, played by Glenn Howerton.
Skylan is best known for his role in the 20th Century Fox film The Darkest Minds starring opposite names such as Bradley Whitford, Gwendoline Christie, Amandla Stenberg, and many more. He also starred as Ra-Ra Kiping in Netflix’s original series The Get Down as well as Our Family Wedding, opposite Regina King, Forest Whitaker, and America Ferrera, and Southpaw opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomie Harris, and Rita Ora.
Brooks’ first big break in acting was in the Sundance 2013 film The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, which was a coming-of-age story about two inner-city boys who are left to fend for themselves for the summer after their mothers are taken away by authorities. This role earned him a nomination for the Young Artist Award “Best Performance in a Feature Film.”
Read our exclusive interview with Skylan Brooks below to find out more about his newest film, ideal role, new music, isolation, and his thoughts on diversity and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
GLITTER: What made you want to pursue acting?
SKYLAN: When I was a kid, I was put into different types of activities and some sports. One of those activities included acting and theatre classes, just to keep me busy. Over time, I began to genuinely enjoy the craft. Eventually, I decided to pursue it full time.
GLITTER: You will be starring in the 2020 action thriller Archenemy as Hamster; what attracted you to the role, and what was your reaction to reading the script for the film?
SKYLAN: My first reaction to reading the script was feeling intrigued. I immediately thought of a damned superhero who seeks to belong again. I also liked that there was a role that displayed a young black teen who has an edge to him but follows his heart. His strong and honest desire to tell stories made him fearless when it comes to finding the truth in Max Fist’s story.
GLITTER: What do you think fans will love about the film?
SKYLAN: I think they’ll love the action for sure, from start to finish. But most of all, the performances drive and make the risk and reward for all characters worth watching.
GLITTER: You starred alongside Amandla Stenberg in the 20th Century Fox film The Darkest Minds; are there any stories from the set you can share?
SKYLAN: One of the funniest moments we had as a cast was playing a little makeshift song between takes in the forest where we were shooting. All we had were just some props and whatever we could find, like sticks and rocks in the forest around us. Amandla actually had her violin with her, so it was dope to see her incorporate it with our little improv ensemble for the crew. It’s probably in the bloopers somewhere.
GLITTER: Was there anything particularly challenging that you had to do for that movie?
SKYLAN: If I had to say anything was challenging was just trying to execute his sarcasm and sense of humor without overdoing it and attempting to bring some balance between the both definitely.
GLITTER: What was your favorite moment about your experience in Netflix’s The Get Down?
SKYLAN: Between all the musical elements, there are many favorite moments. But my most favorite experience would have to be performing the live shows. I loved performing on stage, and I got to do it with a great group of people.
GLITTER: You were nominated for the Young Artist Award “Best Performance in a Feature Film” for your role in the Sundance 2013 film The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete; what was your reaction when you heard the news?
SKYLAN: I couldn’t believe it. I was happy to hear that my performance, along with my co-star Ethan Dizon, was recognized. I worked really hard and put everything I had into the character. I always look back and am thankful for the opportunity to do something that would impact lives across the world, and change lives to this day.
GLITTER: What was it like working with Jennifer Hudson and Anthony Mackie?
SKYLAN: It was really nice to work with Jennifer Hudson. She was a down to earth person. She was nice and even apologetic when she had to slap me several times for a scene. It actually hurt, but I never told her. Anthony Mackie was nothing short of epic. Watching him stay in his character and command such a strong presence was something I looked up to.
GLITTER: What do you love most about being in a comedy film like Our Family Wedding?
SKYLAN: I was so young then, and high energy. It was the first role ever where I was getting told to have fun and just be a kid. It was also one of the first times I worked with Forest Whitaker, which whom I would work with again later.
GLITTER: You worked with Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker for Southpaw, was there any advice you got from them about acting or the industry?
SKYLAN: I remember Forest took a moment to tell me to continue to stay focused and be humble. If I love and enjoy it, then I won’t take it for granted. Jake looked out for me. We shared a lot of laughs but really didn’t give any advice. I admire his dedication to his characters and his chase to nail down what ties him and the role together.
GLITTER: What is your favorite role you’ve done for television, and why?
SKYLAN: I’ve been so blessed to do quite a lot. But the one role that I appreciated the most would have to be my character Ra-Ra from The Get Down. I got to do everything and anything on that show. I put my sweat, tears, and Baz always brought the pressure to bring our “A” game everyday. I wouldn’t change the experience for anything.
GLITTER: What genre do you watch when you want to relax, and is it usually a movie or show?
SKYLAN: I rarely get a chance to relax, but when I do, I watch some anime. I cycle between fighting animes like Baki, or detective shows like Hero Mask.
GLITTER: What would be your ideal role, and who would you love to work with?
SKYLAN: Right now, I would like to play a superhero with powers. I heard that Static Shock is in the pipeline, and eventually, the live-action Miles Morales will be made one day. I’ve got a lot of fans saying that they could see me as either one, so I’m game.
GLITTER: Top five binge-worthy shows?
SKYLAN: I don’t get a chance to watch much tv, but these are some good shows: Shooter Series, The Umbrella Academy, Ip Man Series, Castlevania, and Taken Series.
GLITTER: What is one hip-hop or jazz song you never get tired of listening to?
SKYLAN: Uyama Hiroto Album: Freeform Jazz
GLITTER: Can you name a few of your playlist favs?
SKYLAN: SABA is an artist that is constant in my playlist. His song “Calligraphy” in particular is a song I truly appreciate. Overall, he’s just a versatile artist and very symphonic, in my opinion. Mick Jenkins album Pieces of a Man. His single called “Carefree” is one of my favorite songs to just ride to when I’m in transit. J. Cole and “A Tale of Two Cities” is a staple. Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, MAAD City album, in general, is always somewhere in the playlist. Specifically the “Art of Peer Pressure’s” intro.
GLITTER: What usually inspires you to write?
SKYLAN: The state of the world, my neighborhood, talking with friends, or made-up scenarios in my head. Nature is also a big influencer for me and nightlife as well.
GLITTER: What started your love for photography?
SKYLAN: Just following my imagination and trying to achieve the shot I see in my head. I like exploring all kinds of ways to match the idea I’m looking for. Hanging with my friends always sparks an idea. At the end of the day, I just chalk it up to my deep passion for differentiation with aesthetics.
GLITTER: Which photographer’s work do you enjoy most and why?
SKYLAN: If I’m being honest I couldn’t tell you a name off the top of my head for anything, but I kind of find the art in everything if it’s there and just appreciate it regardless of the photographer or artist.
GLITTER: Anything you can tease about your newest album? What should fans expect?
SKYLAN: It’s an experimental fuse of hip hop and jazz sounds. It embodies moments and experiences from my life. In my head, it’s just an EP. I’ve got some features here and there I can’t wait for everyone to hear. As I speak, I’m shooting the music video for the first song on my EP called “Like Dat” which sets precedence for the rest of the songs after it.
GLITTER: What’s a day in isolation like for you?
SKYLAN: Writing scripts, writing songs, studying how to invest, and occasionally watching some new stand-up comedians. Also, when I get spare time (which is rare), a little video gaming.
GLITTER: How important is voting to you?
SKYLAN: It’s one of the best ways to create change in our inner cities, individual states, and overall country. It’s important to take charge and produce the environment you want to see in our counties and neighborhoods.
GLITTER: What do you feel young people can do to make a difference in the world?
SKYLAN: Expand their minds and research everything. I’ve learned that you can’t take everything for face value, and if you keep digging and learning why things are the way they are, you’ll eventually find a way to make a difference.
GLITTER: What are your thoughts on the current state of our nation and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement?
SKYLAN: It’s a shame to me that our nation is collectively just seeing the systemic racism after hundreds of years and disregard that Black people face on an everyday basis. At the same time, it’s good that the country is coming to the realization of it. I do feel that there is more that we can do individually as well rather than just one organization like BLM. That could make a huge difference during this challenging climate.
GLITTER: How can others get involved to either be an ally or to support BLM?
SKYLAN: Any organization or movement that is for the betterment of all people and assist in efforts to educate everyone is a good way to start, for example, getting out into their communities and volunteering. Also, advocating for positive change and being an example of being the change they want to see because the younger generation is watching.
GLITTER: How do you use your voice for change, and what advice do you have for anyone wanting to help make a change?
SKYLAN: Putting it simply, we have to slow down and understand one another. Why do people say or do things? We process and move so fast in this society; we forget to take our time and access things as they happen. If everyone could reach a consensus and come together in a genuine way, without ulterior motives, it would be a start towards a better world. That’s what I want to generate in people’s minds.
GLITTER: What is your biggest motivation?
SKYLAN: Life itself. The idea that things don’t have to be the way they are. That’s what motivates me.
GLITTER: One highlight of your career so far?
SKYLAN: Traveling to different places for work.
GLITTER: Glitter has a celebrity #SelfLoveCampaign. What does self-love mean to you?
SKYLAN: What it means to me is being able to appreciate and take care of yourself.
GLITTER: Any new projects that you can share?
SKYLAN: A Sci-Fi film that I star in coming to you in 2021, called No Running. Also, a TV show I’m executive producing and starring in called Dope Dealer. A story about a dynamic but troubled family of Black men bonding together to work the system profiting from the American opioid epidemic.
GLITTER: Favorite and latest fashion choices?
SKYLAN: I’m kinda low key, but I’m seeing some cool things from Fear of God, Off-White, and Prada.
GLITTER: What are your thoughts on Biden being named the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election as well as our first Black Female VP, Kamala Harris?
SKYLAN: I think Biden was chosen to be the contrast to Trump. Also, Kamala is making history similar to how Obama did. I think they both have their work cut out for them on the world’s stage. If they do what the American people need and expect them to do, and hold them accountable for the things that they say they would do, then it’d be great. As Biden said, “We’re all in this together.”
GLITTER: What are the best social media platforms for fans to follow you?
SKYLAN: I’m on Instagram more nowadays, so you can catch me there. @skylan_b