Back by popular demand on VH1’s shamelessly addicting hit show “Hit The Floor,” filled with shocking betrayals, bold confrontations, and petty grudges, break-out star McKinley Freeman hypnotizes viewers as the conflicted captain of the L.A. Devils basketball team. His character continues to heat up this season as the show returns to VH1 as lead Derek Roman.(Photo by Brooke Mason)
A Chicago native, McKinley played basketball while obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Finance at the University of Illinois and was quickly recruited by IBM upon graduation for their worldwide marketing and business development program until a chance audition landed him a role on ABC’s “All My Children.” He’s since appeared on award-winning shows including “Switched at Birth, “Major Crimes,” “Bones,” “General Hospital,” “Days of our Lives,” as well as the feature film END OF WATCH alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.
Let’s get up close and personal with this emerging Hollywood celebrity to find out more about his road to Hollywood success.
Beverly Hills Magazine: How do you prepare for a new role?
McKinley Freeman: I start by really absorbing the material. In my acting classes I was taught how to use this tool, myself, in ways that I have never used it before. So I have been trained with various tools that allow me to be prepared for each new role. The most important thing for me is to remember that I have a great responsibility to the material. The thoughts are not mine, but the characters.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What is your opinion of “Hollywood”?
McKinley Freeman: First, I think Hollywood is a beautiful place…It never snows here, like it does in Chicago. It’s also an opportunity. I think Hollywood gets a bad rap. I think at times there’s no accountability for our own actions so it’s easier to blame it on “the city.” It’s not the “Hollywood machine” that’s evil, but people. I’ve also realized that in Hollywood you have to have the courage to be yourself. It’s difficult to be yourself when we live in a culture, when everything around us is telling you to be somebody else.
(Photo by Brooke Mason)
Beverly Hills Magazine: What is the best part of the business?
McKinley Freeman: The people and the process. I have so much fun when I work. I introduce myself to everyone, and I’m like, “Let’s make a movie!” Hahaha. Of course, some days are better than others.
Beverly Hills Magazine: What is your dream role?
McKinley Freeman: I’ve always wanted to play Martin Luther King. He’s always been a personal hero of mine.
Beverly Hills Magazine: You play basketball in real life, why are sports an important part of life?
McKinley Freeman: Sports force you to get along with others whom you otherwise wouldn’t interact with. When you’re on a team, there’s no skin color, no religion, none of that matters. You all share the same goals. The sports experience, specifically the team experience, changes your perspective in a good way, on how we see each other and our differences.
(Photo by Brooke Mason)
Beverly Hills Magazine: What advice would you give to actors looking for success in the entertainment business?
McKinley Freeman: Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons, because it requires a lot of work. When you hear “No” a thousand times, know that it’s just a delayed “Yes.” We’re all at different points in our lives, trying to find out who we are. In each of us is an irreplaceable original, and as individual’s it is our job is to make sure we don’t inspire copies. That’s why the “WHY” you do this, must first be defined by who you are as an individual It’s important to strive, and it’s most important to be who you are.
When he’s not on screen or producing films, McKinley enjoys playing basketball, cooking and staying fit with various forms of boxing, kickboxing and martial arts including Bojuka, Jeet Kune Do, and Muay Thai. A poet at heart, he often finds himself writing whenever he feels inspired which led to his first self-published e-book. Additionally, he is involved with Covenant House and the Boys & Girls Club of America, seeking to use his basketball skills to help children.