‘Queen Sugar’ star Timon Kyle Durrett talks the OWN hit & his passion for writing

Timon Kyle Durrett is captivating audiences this fall on “Queen Sugar, the Ava Duvernay and Oprah Winfrey produced series on OWN and we caught up with the actor to talk about his first “pinch-me” moment and how this show has challenged him as an actor.

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Photos by Oleg Bogdan

When were you first bit by the acting bug?

The acting bug bit me long before I actually began my acting career. Watching movies and television was so enthralling to me. I wanted to be on television or in a movie so badly, especially action series and features. I couldn’t get enough of them.  As I got older, my desire to act became more concrete, more meaningful. I just didn’t know how to actually get on TV or in a movie. Then, my mother handed me a piece of paper with instructions on how to audition to be an extra in a made-for-television movie called “There Are No Children Here,” which starred Oprah Winfrey. I booked the role and that bug bit me the entire time I was on set, as it still does to this day.

What was the first “pinch-me” moment you had as an actor, when you knew you were doing what you were meant to be doing?

My first “pinch me” moment had to be during the premiere of the Twentieth Century FOX film “Like Mike,” in which I played a professional basketball player named Henderson. It was the first time I’d seen myself on the big screen. I was so nervous, one of the other actors sitting next me whispered, “Dude, relax.” I hadn’t realized that I’d sunk down into my seat and was gripping the armrests as though I was about to take off. But the feeling was exhilarating. I wanted to feel it again and again.

How has “Queen Sugar” challenged you as an actor?

“Queen Sugar” has evoked more from me than I’d ever imagined. All these things bubbling forth from within were either new, or suppressed and forgotten. I had to learn and relearn how to use them and insert them into the life of my character, Davis West. But that type of work, self-discover and rediscovery, and self-study is the type of challenge I relish in. I welcome it. To be enmeshed in such work is, in no small part, why I do this.

What have you learned about yourself throughout the process of the show so far?

I’ve learned that I delight in being more receptive to the unexpected, and the unplanned. Taking in the sights and sounds, the energy and direction, the suddenness of things that life on set can bring. I learned that being kept on my toes is very enjoyable. I look forward to every day, on and off set, hoping to experience something new and surprising.

You’re a writer as well!  What was the impetus for your self-help book?

The impetus for my book (Who The Hell Do I Think I Am), believe it or not, was me.  I always tell people, “I am under constant complex construction.” There are many layers to me that, at one point, I either ignored or didn’t recognize. When I peeled back those layers – before writing the book – I wasn’t very pleased with what was underneath. It was at that point I decided to write down how I truly saw and felt about myself. Then it hit me: Timon, write the book. So I did. I go back and read it from time to time, re-familiarizing myself, with myself; if you know what I mean.

What other artistic goals have you set for yourself over the next year or so?

Storytelling is a long-time passion of mine. My imagination is so wild and constant, that I have to share some of these stories with the world. I’m in the midst of completing my graphic sci-fi novel, the title and plot of which will remain a secret for now. I’m also completing a final edit on a dramatic feature length screenplay I’ve written.

What’s next?

As we say in the film & television industry: stay tuned.

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