Tuesday, December 8, 2015


We've been following the career of Malachi Kirby for 4 or 5 years now as he's risen from a young, unknown student actor in London to very popular presence on UK stages and screens, big and small. His upcoming journey to the shores of American consciousness will be via a project of great import and historical significance in African-American film history.  He has been cast in the iconic role of young Kunte Kinte in the reboot of "Roots" (the role that launched LaVar Burton's career with an Emmy nod and secured the name Kunte Kinte as part of the cultural lexicon of our country.) Malachi stars along side a huge cast including Laurence Fishburn, Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Anika Noni Rose, Derek Luke, Mekhi Phifer, Jonathan Rhys Meyers & T.I. to name just a few.       Our UK fam are already familiar with him and can see him currently on the hit BBC show Jeckyll & Hyde as the shapeshifting murderer Spring-Heeled Jack Burton.

I've had to do some spring-heeled jumping of my own through lots of hoops in order to get my hands on Malachi's UK-based work over the past 4 years, hahaha, but its the rewarding kind of hoop-jumping I'm always down for.   To whet your appetite as we await the "Roots" premiere, here's a taste of this brother's wide range of skills: from comedy, to drama, to action, to leading man.  I know we'll be seeing much, much more of Malachi Kirby on US screens in the coming years!   You heard it here, folks!  Check him out!

HERE'S THE BACKSTORY of how we first stumbled on the talented Mr. Kirby:
It was back in 2011 when we first began working on a project designed to showcase some of the best Street Dancers through a strongly-structured narrative.   Street Dance-centered narratives were practically nonexistent at the time, and when they did make it to the screen the stories were largely lacking in substance. We were anxious to combine the story craft we were learning from Stephen Schwartz and other great Broadway/Hollywood story men with our love of Street Dance culture (which was having its own renaissance.) The resulting project was a series entitled STORY GOT NEXT (http://www.lojowerkz.com/p/story-got-next.html)

One of the key components of Story Got Next was a strongly structured story written to be carried by a cast of talented actors with the dancers in roles that wouldn't require acting skills beyond their reach. In short, a great story that allowed great actors to act and great dancers to dance and kept the emphasis on engaging entertainment.   The lead character "Story" is a former Street Dancer who suffers a debilitating stroke (see the link to the plot above.)   So the casting breakdown for the lead actor looked something like this:

Male, mid 20s, with the athletic build of a Street Dancer but who, for the majority of the story, would be wheelchair-bound with limited muscle control and an inability to speak for the first half of the series. He also needed to be a romantic lead.  This meant the search was on for an actor who could express a broad range of emotions with just his face, even with limited facial movement; a gravitas and street swag with a combination of vulnerability and strength; AND a strong sense of comic timing. It required an actor with an intriguing face and piercing, expressive eyes  that would look great in extreme close-up.   For a small, indie web-series this is a very, very tall bill to fill.

After months of searching everywhere… Long story short, I saw a still photo of Malachi through my TuTchT work with male models of color. My first thought was, "'Story' needs to look like THIS guy!" I was completely unaware that Malachi was an actor.  Then for the next few hours and days, everything snowballed in a series of thrilling eureka moments as I learned more about his award-winning skills as an actor and was able to dig up some footage. At the time (2012) he was a relatively unknown young actor working on stages in London with just a couple tv movies and short film credits to his name, (along with another outstanding young brother named John Boyega…yeah.  Both were products of Femi Ogun's amazing Identity School of Acting in London.  Nothing more thrilling than seeing the birth of superstars!) 

So the nature of "show biz" is such that we don't know if the stars will align in a way that allows "Story Got Next" to go into production, or if we'll be able to work with the talented Mr. Kirby, especially since his path will likely follow the successful progression that John Boyega has experienced.  But it's still amazing to be in the position to watch his career blossom in the US as we've seen in the UK. We'll forever be supporters of Malachi Kirby and you should jump on that bandwagon too!!!

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