It was the late 2010s in Los Angeles, California, and then-professional dancer Skyh Black was auditioning for a hip-hop role. Maybe it’s for Rihanna, Beyoncé or Mariah – he worked with them all despite a complete lack of training in the genre. The casting of the part is Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Debbie Allen, a former dancer herself, and after selecting Black for the job, she takes him aside. “She said, ‘Honey, I’m going to make you an actor. That’s what I see from you, ”Black, from his home in Los Angeles, told The Manual.
“I said ‘No you are not,'” the 33-year-old continued. “‘It is not me.'”
September 9, Tyler Perry Studios’ All the queen’s men debuted on BET +, and in it, Black, completely transformed into the actor Allen had envisioned, plays Addition Anthony, a stripper with a mysterious past. (In our conversation, Black was low-key about spoilers, so you’ll have to be careful on your own.) The role is only his newest: appearing in BET’s sisters, Showtime’s Black monday, and AMC’s next legal drama Lace, it’s fair to say that Black, a former dancer who told a multiple Emmy winner she was wrong, has found her rhythm.
Back then, Black couldn’t understand leaving the dance behind. It was the only thing he had ever done. Raised by his Alabamian grandparents in Miami, Florida, he was a dancer, he says, for longer than he remembered, breaking his leg at the age of two after an unsuccessful attempt in the dance. kitchen to recreate the bright tile scene from Michael Jackson’s “Billie”. Jeans. When he was old enough, his grandparents signed him up for classes, intending to study tap – grandma was a fan of Gregory Hines. But only ballet was available, which won’t exactly get you a letterman jacket. And yet, he flourished. Years later, in a high school for the performing arts, his instructor almost told him he would never make it to the pro ranks – he didn’t have the right proportions, inherent flexibility, or required whiteness (not ironically, because the instructor himself was a black). “It’s not the right thing to tell me,” said Black. “Anything in life, if you tell me ‘no’ good luck because you just made me succeed. Sure enough, two years later, Black was in New York City, employed as a professional ballet dancer.
Despite all of this, when Allen prophesied over him, Black was the unusual Thomas Doubting: “I never knew I was going to be an actor,” he says. And then he repeats it, emphatically. “I always thought it was the hardest discipline to do.”
Whether Black thought about it at the time, he was in the same pipeline as many other prominent male dancers. A Brief History: Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire. “Sammy Davis Jr. too,” Black adds as we riffle back and forth. For modern examples, look no further than Channing Tatum, who rocked it in Ricky Martin’s She hits video clip and the like long before stealing the screen in Intensify, Magic mike, and Hello, Caesar!. Hell, Oscar-bait La La Land is essentially a self-referential recognition of Hollywood’s free past.
Could Allen somehow see into the hazy future, in which Black would score role after role? Or was it an instinct to see yourself a little dark? (Allen, coming out of his Governors Award at the 2021 Emmy Awards, did not respond to the comments.) Maybe she just saw a young man who had the driving to park cars from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. to sleep in the morning and audition in the afternoon like a West Coast vampire.
It doesn’t matter who knew what, when, one thing is for sure: Allen, after absorbing Black’s outright rejection, was not disheartened. “It’s not me,” he said, and Allen hit back, “Honey, you don’t know who you are yet.”
So who is Skyh Black?
In 2021, Black is a man of faith, although he does not assign any specific denomination or belief. Try to corner it, and it will become as specific as saying, “What was more important than religion and the rules?” [is] a strong individual relationship with God. Rather than cathedrals or benches, he walks many of the trails in Los Angeles, where he speaks with the Divine as if they were old friends.
Black is a man of classics, of tradition, despite the fact that he lives in a fully modern world. “When you learn the classicism of any craft, you can easily move on to other areas of that same discipline,” he says. He took acting lessons, of course, but one of his greatest strengths as an actor comes from his spatial awareness and ultimate control over his body learned in ballet and on stage. It goes without saying that when it comes to blocking, it always hits the mark.
And Black, despite his newcomer status (he was still a valet and living his nightlife style as late as last year), has yet to contract impostor syndrome. “Sometimes as an actor you can go into this race in pursuit of your own momentum. You are in this competition with yourself, ”he says. “But it’s something I’m learning to let go. I feel like I’m living for my purpose.
It doesn’t hurt that one of its guiding lights was the Tyler Perry Method, an expression that we have just invented but that his followers know intimately. The director is legendary for his fast and intense filming, and for a man like Black who just cut his teeth, a Perry project is akin to Marine Corps training camp. Even Black, to describe his harshness, resorts to militaristic verbiage: “I always say, if you’re successful in Tyler Perry’s country, you can do anything, anywhere.” I love the training ground it offers.
April 23, 2020: This is the date Black was told he had landed his role in sisters, and which he remembers because it had been two years since he returned to acting class. Allen’s prediction came true. “My life has completely changed,” he says.
While Black doesn’t mention whether he saw Allen again or even had the chance to thank her, he speaks unabashedly about his impact. “She opened up this world where my imagination became limitless, she opened up this world where I felt like I could escape, and she opened this world that requires you to empathize with others even. if you don’t agree. ” he says. “[Acting] became the biggest obsession of my life.
But who Skyh Black is now, however, could only be possible because of what he once was. “If I didn’t have my previous life as a dancer, the discipline, knowing the camera,” he says. The implication is clear: who he is now is what he always has been. “Everything worked in tandem,” he says, “and it was completely necessary for who I am today.”