“Get into a good Class!” — When I got to LA I swore I was a natural and you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t the next Will Smith! But you have to study the craft and make connections. Also, do your best to remember everyone’s name. It goes a long way and people like to feel memorable. Lastly, Chill! Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Reggie Watkins.
Reggie Watkins is creating systematic change as an Actor, Sports Enthusiast and Civil Rights Activist. Reggie will soon portray the lead role of ‘Sgt. Lawrence Sims’ in Activision’s new Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (releasing Nov 13th). Reggie plays one of only two actors whose likeness and voice are used as a character in the new game. Reggie can also be seen as a Host of The Digital Podcast Network’s “Brothas On Football”, which provides an in-depth breakdown of all things football from a Black man’s perspective.
Outside of the spotlight, Reggie recently Co-Founded the San Fernando Valley based non-profit organization The Valley Of Change along with Latora Green — in reaction to the Black Lives Matter Movement and civil unrest surrounding the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The non-profit strives to accelerate social change and sustainably construct a fair, equitable society by advocating for policy solutions, community representation, widespread education, and narrative change.
Reggie is originally from San Jose, CA and has always had a passion for acting and athletics. He began his young acting career in theater productions, and eventually went on to play collegiate football as a Wide Receiver, until a torn ACL ended his career at 21-years old. No longer able to pursue football, he moved to LA to fully commit to acting. His first ‘Hollywood’ job was a doorman at the world famous The Comedy Store, where he eventually earned his stripes performing stand up with the likes of Dave Chappelle and Dane Cook. He has since booked numerous TV roles on popular shows such as ABC Family’s “Lincoln Heights” (co-starring opposite the late Chadwick Boseman), Amazon’s “Bosch,” NBC’s “This Is Us,” and ABC’s “The Rookie.” Reggie currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and children.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
My pleasure! Thanks for the interest. I grew up the oldest of 3 to a young, single mother. We didn’t have money but I didn’t know! My mom always made it seem like we were straight. I was born in San Jose, CA. Then, moved to Denver, CO when I was 9. One of my favorite movies growing up was “White Christmas”, so my siblings and I were so excited to be living in the snow — until I learned you had to shovel the snow. At that point we began to hate the snow! Lol! I moved back to live with my dad in San Jose when I was 13. I didn’t really know him, so we were like roommates. It was dope. I had almost no rules! I stayed there until I graduated high school and then went on to college.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a kid I became enthralled with the movie biz after watching “Commando”. There’s a scene where they have a car chase and the cars keep ramming into each other, but in some of the shots the cars look brand new! I was like “What is happening?!!” — and that got me to find out about film editing. I was 6. From then on I wanted to be in the movies, or be Theo Huxtable. Lol.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Well, the most interesting thing is how I got started. I was always a football player and thought I was going to the NFL, but one summer, when I was 12, I decided I wanted to be in a play. So I scoured the Denver newspapers for audition notices and I found the Kidskits Theater. They were doing a production about a lion and some kids, or something. My sister and I auditioned but only I got a role, and from there they got me my first agent and I started doing local commercials and hosting kids shows on local tv.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
It’s kinda timely. My 1st TV job was as a co-star on “Lincoln Heights”. I played an escaped convict who assaulted a kid at a burger joint. The cop who hunts me down was played by the late, great Chadwick Boseman. So we have this scene where I’m running through a tunnel to get away, and on every take I’m blazing down this tunnel. After the 2nd take Chad comes up out of breath and says “Yo, you gotta slow down! You’re not just outrunning me, you’re outrunning the camera!” He was a cool dude.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Well the most interesting and exciting is the current project, “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War”. As a kid I dreamed about being in video games, and now my face and voice are actually in maybe the biggest game in the world! It’s surreal.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Well, #1: Diversity humanizes people you don’t know. Maybe you don’t have Black friends, but you might be encouraged to seek some out if you see a cool Black character in your fav show. #2: Diversity increases the richness of storytelling. Everyone in this world is different. We all have different experiences and POV’s. Let’s see all of it! #3: Diversity pushes the culture forward by showing people that their experiences matter, and gives people who otherwise wouldn’t aspire to certain heights, that extra push they need to conquer a fear and dream the impossible.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Don’t know if I have 5, but a major one is “Get into a good Class!” When I got to LA I swore I was a natural and you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t the next Will Smith! But you have to study the craft and make connections. Also, do your best to remember everyone’s name. It goes a long way and people like to feel memorable. Lastly, Chill! Everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Do some Yoga, take some edibles, do some mushrooms under the stars with dope people. Don’t take everything so seriously. You only get one life, enjoy it.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂 Well, since the civil unrest that swept the nation during the pandemic as a result of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, I co-founded a non-profit called ‘The Valley of Change’. We are a community outreach organization that believes Black Lives Matter, Homelessness should and will be eradicated, and We the People have the power to change our communities by Doing Something Everyday.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My family. My mom raised me through childhood by herself and allowed me to fantasize about the NFL and movies! As an adult my dad made up for his absence by helping every way he could with my dreams. My siblings always supported and never doubted me. My wife is the dopest person on the planet. I’m lucky.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready”. The best jobs/people that have come into my life always came when I was prepared mentally for the situation.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I’m not really a fan of anyone like that. But I guess it would be cool to smoke a joint with Dave Chappelle.
How can our readers follow you online?
Hit me up on IG: @CoachWithReg and Twitter: @ReggieWatkinsJr