In a world where talent takes you far, Keith Robinson is ahead of the game. He’s a true triple threat -- having already mastered acting and songwriting, he’s now positioning himself to take over the music world with a velvety voice.
Before he made his way to Tinseltown, the Kentucky native set his sights on music, and attended the University of Georgia. Upon coming to Los Angeles, Keith had a chance meeting with a talent manager who jumpstarted his acting career. Since then, he’s thrived, landing an incredible 50+ projects in television and film while continuing to pursue his musical career-- often placing songs in the acting projects he stars in.
Keith may be best known for his critically acclaimed performance as “C.C. White” in the Academy Award-winning feature film, Dreamgirls. His big solo in the musical, “Patience,” which he also performed live at the Academy Awards, earned an Oscar nomination in the Best Song category.
After Dreamgirls, he released his debut album, Utopia. On the acting side, he subsequently starred in This Christmas, Dear John, 35 and Ticking, and Hopelessly in June. .
Here, Keith talks about his new film, the James Brown biopic Get on Up, where he co-stars opposite Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott and Dan Aykroyd.
Kam Williams: Hi Keith, thanks for the interview.
Keith Robinson: Thanks for having me.
KW: What interested you in Get on Up?
KR: As a musician, I was heavily influenced by James Brown's music.
KW: What was it like working with Tate Taylor and such a star-studded cast?
KR: Tate is a really cool director because he has a clear vision of what he wants but still gives his actors freedom to collaborate in the process. That's rare. Working with a cast where everyone is really talented puts you at ease, actually.
KW: How would you describe your character, Baby Roy?
KR: Baby Roy is the young exuberant one who just really loves to perform and be on stage as much as possible. He's what I like to think as the artist who still has those stars in his eyes and believes it's all about the music and hasn't been tainted yet. [LOL]
KW: What message do you think people will take away from the film?
KR: That James Brown is the epitome of perseverance. You can never underestimate the magnetic power of self belief.
KW: Are you a James Brown fan? What’s your favorite song of his?
KR: Absolutely. "I'll Go Crazy," which I recently remade.
And "It’s a Man's World," of course.
KW: Your big break was when you landed the role on TV as the Green Ranger on the Power Rangers. Did you have a martial arts background?
KR: Not at all. I was just a good athlete and I had been in a few fights.
KW: You were signed by Motown while you were still a student at the University of Georgia. What prompted your move from music to acting?
KR: I never really made a "move" from one to the other. Acting came second once I moved to Hollywood on a chance audition for the "Power Rangers." I've been doing both ever since.
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
KR: Hmmm... I think I've heard them all at this point. [Laughs]
KW: Would you mind saying something controversial that would get this interview tweeted?
KR: [LOL] Reality shows disgust me. Specifically, the ones that make black people look trifling and super melodramatic. You know who you are.
KW: Have you ever had a near-death experience?
KR: Only in my sleep, thank God.
KW: Have you ever accidentally uncovered a deep secret?
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
KR: Yeah, I've been afraid--usually right before a movie drops. [Laughs some more]
KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
KR: Twizzlers and naked body surfing.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
KR: Fifty Shades of Grey. I had to see what all the fuss was about… and learn a few new tips.
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?
KR: "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper. It's on in the background right now.
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
KR: A handsome dude that's come a long way with a long way to go.
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
KR: Permanent financial security.
KW: Let's say you’re throwing your dream dinner party—who’s invited… and what would you serve?
KR: Too many to name but it would be the fifty most influential people in the world. It'd be a potluck. I got the salmon and Twizzlers.
KW: The Jamie Foxx question: If you only had 24 hours to live, how would you spend the time?
KR: Eating with family, making love to my girl, and praying.
KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
KR: A derby horse or a dolphin. Everybody loves them.
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
KR: Me and my brother locking the babysitter outside. Still not sure how we did it.
KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
KR: It made me never underestimate the physical power a heartbreak can have on you.
KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
KR: I have on nicer clothes.
KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
KR: Reading minds. I would always get what I want.
KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
KR: Uptown Saturday Night.
KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
KR: Consistency, discipline, and self-belief.
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
KR: Consistency, discipline, and self-belief.
KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
KR: Boys and Girls Club.
KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
KR: As an amazing multi-talented artist who told the truth, and as a humble brother who loved his friends and family unconditionally.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Keith, and best of luck with the film.
KR: Appreciate it, Kam.