I wish someone told me about being organized. There is so much that can happen in a year, month, or even a week, so missed opportunities can arise and it can keep you unfocused. Being organized keeps the train moving, as they say, so things don’t become confusing.
As a part of our series about rising stars, I had the pleasure to interview King Vader. Born Dominique Barrett, King is an innovative content creator and YouTuber who writes, directs, produces and edits all his own videos, and has a goal to be the “greatest director of [his] generation.” He hopped into the film Industry at 11 years old, and starred in his own YouTube series for more than 4 years. Seasoned by his older cousin and manager, Vader began branching off and creating his own image as a filmmaker in the social media industry. Vader really took off at 17 years old on Vine with his creative dance moves, anime expressions and explosive personality. He gained more than 500,000 followers and garnered more than a million views per video. He soon transitioned to Instagram and continued setting trends and breaking down barriers. King has directed multiple short films and commercials for Burger King, Netflix and others. He has more than 2.5 million followers across all platforms, with a quarter of a billion impressions. He continues to parody music videos that place many familiar characters from anime and superhero movies in dance-off scenarios, and his distinct Black rewriting of those characters on his YouTube channel.
Thank you so much for joining us King! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in Chicago, and raised in Maryland. My brother’s and I were raised by a single mother, who spent most of her time working, along with my older brother. To pass the time, my younger brother and I would let creativity take over as our entertainment until our mother got home from a long day of work. We would draw various pictures, make stories with toys and create crafts out of paper at a very young age.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I moved from Chicago to Maryland when I was 11 years old, and I met my older cousin, Brandon who asked me to be in some short films. We would make home videos in our spare time. After that summer of that year, I realized the most fun I ever had was in front of the camera, which started my career path.
In high school, I decided to download the VINE app, where I started to make creative videos that were only 6–7 seconds long. People loved and reacted to them, so they began to spread around.
As word traveled about my videos, I reached an astounding 500k followers until the app’s shut down, which forced me to start all over. I transitioned to Instagram, which helped push me even harder creatively, since I was brand new to the app and out of my element.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One day I received a call from my manager, Brandon, about getting booked for an interview for Fox 5 News. I was really nervous but extremely excited for the opportunity because I have never had an interview on live television and wanted people to take me seriously as not only myself but as King Vader as a whole.
It was very emotional. The greatest thing about the experience was that it wasn’t just me who was showcased, it was my entire team that I’ve worked so hard and filmed with. It wasn’t just a major victory for me but it was one for the entire team. I was able to show the world how I demonstrated my work flow alongside my team inside a space provided for me through my platform.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A funny mistake I made was when I was learning how to use my first camera. I almost formatted the entire SD card, nearly erasing all the footage I had captured that day on accident.
I was trying to figure out how to create more space on the card, and as soon as I pushed the button I asked what the word format meant and my friend yelled out “No don’t touch that button, you’ll delete all of the footage!” I guess format means delete and I thought it was something far less.
So the lesson I learned is to always be cautious before jumping into things.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
The most interesting and exciting project I am currently working on is my adaptation of The Matrix — a King Vader revision of it. It’s one that is going to bring people in and amaze them — it’s going to be a mixture of fight choreography and dancing mixed and infused together providing a huge visionary outlook.
I also have an original super hero film that is going to be mind-blowing and something I believe the world currently needs.
And lastly, I have an upcoming horror film — my first one from the series Don’t Disrespect Halloween. Every year for Halloween, I create short films that take you on a journey with different scary characters. They are stories filled with dancing, suspense and horror with a little twist. This time it will be a movie that I hope my fans are ready for.
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?
Diversity is important because without diversity, it leaves a lot of the youth blind to the possibility of what is possible. If the industry is dominated by one race, it comes down to people not having inspiration due to them only seeing that one particular race. By showing diversity, it makes them feel like we can do anything because seeing is believing.
Diversity and inclusion shines the light on actors portraying different elements that can inspire kids to be anything they want in life, such as the next president, future teacher and doctors. It can change how they view the world in a positive way and is very impactful.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish someone told me the importance of taking a break. Consistency and hard work goes hand and hand when you’re truly invested in your craft. It can also become draining at times, so for me, being able to take a step back to become refreshed and have a breather are essential toward excelling within your craft.
- I wish someone told me about being organized. There is so much that can happen in a year, month, or even a week, so missed opportunities can arise and it can keep you unfocused. Being organized keeps the train moving, as they say, so things don’t become confusing.
- Elevating in anything takes a great amount of investment in yourself and investing into your craft. If we don’t make self-investments, there will be no improvement and it makes you take the extra step toward that commitment of reaching your goals and dreams.
- I wish someone told me to set your own limits.The only person who can do that is yourself. If you are focused on what everyone else is doing, you will never move ahead. You have to know your own limits so that you are able to not only overcome them but to break through them. It is an important part of the creative process. The main message I have gained is to never allow anyone to set any type of limit for you and that you have to live limitless in life as well break boundaries.
- I wish someone to me to dream BIG. Dreaming big is a very important element to me because the world we live in tells us to dream logically and realistically and not outside the box, so thinking that way will only present those negative results and you will be unhappy. When you dream big you have something to work toward and dreaming small puts you in a small box. My thing is to never put your mind in a box, never be afraid to take big steps, and remember to always think about the final destination and what you’re moving toward. Thinking small won’t get you where you want to go.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
- Be true
- Be yourself
- Stay consistent
- Be creative
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If I could inspire a movement, it would be called “smile more.“ “Smile More” would be a movement about how critical it is to smile and to make others smile no matter what the cost is. Our job is to make others happy and smiling is something universal that all humans can relate to. I want to spread happiness to the world and impact the youth because everyone needs to smile. There is so much depression in the world and we can change that just by smiling, which is empowering. It inspires people more than you will ever know. If you are going through so much and are able to smile through it all, it’s a testament of how it can inspire others to do the same no matter what they are going through.
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?
I’m most grateful for my cousin and manager, Writer Boy, AKA Brandon. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
He has instilled so many things into me and has helped me become a leader. He is super inspiring and is the main reason as to why I make films and videos. He has taught me that I can live my dreams and for that, I am forever grateful.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Never give up! Not giving up is an important message that can resonate with so many. I learned it from the show Naruto. It’s hard chasing your dreams and making it become a reality, but it puts you closer to your dreams.
It has taught me how to be relentless and to become a force that can’t be stopped. No matter what you say or do, you will get better at it.
That quote has shaped my entire life and where I am headed, I believe it will get me to my dream because I never gave up.
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?
I would love to have a private breakfast with Will Smith to thank him for being who he is and being motivational to the world. I’d tell him that the words he’s spoken has ignited a fire in me that makes me want to become a better actor and director and I want to be just like him.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Twitter : https://twitter.com/kingvader