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  • Kaitlin Popow

Akeem Mair: Acting His Way to the Top

Lets face it: we are all watching a few more movies then normal these days. So, we can respect a good independent film with actors trying to pave their way into coveted Hollywood. We touched base with Akeem Mair, an actor who recently joined Commercial Talent Agency under agent Sarah Angeli. Mair is using his inspiration and talent to work his way to the top.

You have appeared in numerous independent films! Can you tell us a bit about them  and what is it like being apart of an independent project and how does it vary from other jobs you have had? 

It was amazing! Those numerous independent films were all valuable learning experiences I’ll cherish for life! The most memorable one was my very first acting gig I booked, “Good Will Hunting” remake for the Los Angeles Film School. Talk about my nerves shooting through the roof, I was about to learn a powerful lesson. The director tells me to take my shirt off and lay next to actress Alexandra Gurskaya. Now I’m still nervous and the professor/director yells, “Action!!!” So I place my right hand on her arm and deliver my lines in a shaky tone, “yeah but how do you kno——“ He yells “stop!!!!!!!!!!” He says to Alexandra “you’re doing a fine job sweetheart, keep it up! But you” as he points to me with his finger  “come here!” He guides me to the director screen and says, “Now look at yourself, is your character suppose to be nervous or confident?” I said, “confident!” He then says, “then why are you messing up my scene by being nervous, forget about everybody in this room. You came to entertain us and deliver a great performance because that’s what you do. Don’t let us ruin this moment for you! Don’t ruin this moment for yourself either.”

That message was so powerful! In the back of my mind, I hear his voice telling me that over and over, don’t ruin this moment! 

You mention you are named after one of Eddie Murphy's characters... Can you explain that a bit and what that means to you? 

It’s still crazy to me because I always thought I would be a “James” since I looked so much like my father. When people would see us, they would assume that we are identical twins. I remember my grandma always saying, when I see you I automatically think of your dad. My dad said, “he didn’t expect me to look so much like him as I grew up or I would of ended up making you a junior.” But it caught him off guard and I’m still pretty lucky to be named after one of my favorite actor’s characters. One Sunday evening my dad decided to take my out on a movie date to see “Coming to America” on June 26,  1988. She was about 6 months pregnant with me at the time and they still were in the process of selecting a perfect name for me. Then here’s come Akeem, his radiant personality bursted out of the screen and into my parent’s eyes. The humility he displayed when it came to money and working a job he knows he’s too good for. How he stands up for his values and morals, or protects his dreams in front of his own parents. It would mean the world to me to meet Eddie Murphy one day. I want tell him thank you for inspiring my parents and how I would honor his character’s name throughout my own career. 

What other passions do you have other than acting?

Poetry is my second love! I write at least one or two poems a week! It started from listening to 2pac’s songs and reading his lyrics as a kid. Love the way he put all his emotions into it and I’ve leaned to do the same as a way for me to vent...

He even wrote us a poem! *Insert heart eyes here!*

KB Pop Culture 

I embrace the KB Pop Culture 

I truly appreciate the love and extra exposure 

A culture built to influence new artists

To follow our dreams is where our hearts is 

Yes success is hard, but we all can reach this 

Don’t quit, because who can deal with regret?

You only get one life, so don’t you spoil it 

By making the wrong decisions too quick 

What’s a wrong decision? Nothing that benefit

Cherish time and it will make you magnificent 

Work hard so your gifts can be heaven sent 

Don’t follow friends if they lead to the lions den

You can’t win if all you do all day is pretend 

And not grind on your goals everyday amen?

So choose everyday to give it your best 

To follow our passions Is life’s quest 

And don’t take no for answer, the final test 

So thank you Kaitlin Popow and Brandon West

I appreciate you guys, much love and respect 

We have to ask- what is your favorite project you have done so far? 

By far it’s the Ellen show!! (Check it out Below!) Now I am grateful and love all of the projects I’ve ever been blessed to be apart of. But Ellen’s show brought so many blessings out of it. Now i am in class and my friends and family kept blowing up my phone every 5 mins with texts like, “what??? you were on The Ellen Show??? You gotta call me!!” Everybody was so excited for me to be on her segment show, “Speak The Lyrics.” A show where one of Ellen’s writers walks up to a complete stranger and begins speaking to them in song lyrics...See a couple months back, I wanted to go check out some books at  Barnes and Noble in Burbank. As I approached the building I notice a bunch of film crew just standing outside. I asked one of them, “What’s going on?” But they all pretended to be confused. Alright so I go inside to look around and didn’t find anything interesting. I was able to walkout when I notice my favorite rapper 2pac’s record “All Eyes On Me,” in the record section. As I’m looking at it I swear Lauren literally came out of nowhere! My acting coach, Mike is always telling us actors to be prepared for a moment and to never let those moments to take you out of what’s happening now. So I played to what she says and all of sudden I’m signing my approval of the whole moment. It airs on TV and Ellen calling it, “The best episode she’s ever seen!” I’m speechless. 

It was generating over 5 million views on Instagram and for some miracle it landed in my future agent, Sarah Angeli from Commercial Talent Agency, Instagram feed. Unbelievable! Funny thing is I just sent her my head shots and resume with the help of my good friend and mentor Mike Dolphy. So when I walked into her office for my agent meeting, boom!! She already had me up on her computer. When she said, “I just saw this yesterday and here you are,” I just felt the power of Jesus. She played it again and we both smiled and laughed. I’ll never forget those moments! 

When you are booking gigs, what are three traits you try to convey? 

Number #1 is always that I am grateful for just the opportunity. I don’t care if I book the gig or not but that I appreciate you just allowing me the chance to audition and show you what I can do. Selfishness is all over Hollywood, and they say everybody wants to become a star. To shine and grab all of the glory but all to often the people behind the camera doesn’t get the appreciation they deserve. They seem to always get stepped on and unrecognized. To me they are the star! Because without them putting that role out there for me and given the chance to blow them away, it would be nearly impossible to become a star without booking anything.

Number #2 has to be reliability and trust! They gotta trust you to do the audition if they send it your way. They gotta trust in you to hit “confirm” to let them know that you are coming and not going to flake on them. Too many actors don’t show up or even call to say that they need to reschedule. This makes your agent look really bad in front of the casting office if you have one or you look really bad. I’ve heard stories of actors getting back-balled by casting agencies and this makes it nearly impossible to find work.

Number #3 is that you are extremely serious! Casting directors need to see that you take acting very seriously and that you are well prepared! Well prepared with your scripts and with your acting materials. Does he or she have an Instagram account? Does he or she have an agent? Does he or she have professional headshots? Are they well connected to people we know? Does he or she have a professional demo reel? Does he or she have a great background credits or taken plenty of classes? Whether big money is involved or not, everyone wants an actor who is serious!!

Can you tell us about any projects you are working on now? We can keep a secret!

Haha yeah it’s top secret!! They even made me sign an NDA so I can’t tell you much about it but it has a lot to do with my dad. If someone was tell me, “hey, when you start this acting journey of yours you’re going to come across a project that you and your dad is going to be apart of and it’s going to break you down!” I’ll be like, what are you talking about?? Stop playing with me!” Now my dad is not an actor so he didn’t get hired to take my call and say a bunch of words to his son so it can be a real fake moment. No! It was very real for me! So real I forgot about all of the camera operators, the lights, the producers, the other actor, the director, everything! I literally broke down in front of all of them. Real emotions, real tears! Afterwards the owner came rushing down to hug me because he too had a similar experience with his dad. I held on to that deep love and emotions and it finally cracked. You should of seen the other actor...He had this face of a person who don’t sign up to be a therapist. This project definitely brought me closer to my dad and I’ll always be grateful for it.

Since the pandemic hit your plans for 2020 must have changed. How have you adapted and continued to build your brand? 

The plans for 2020 never changes! Covid-19 is not getting in my way, I’m a freight train coming down a hill with no breaks! I’m running this year and this virus over, period!! What does change however is the way I will execute my plans!

My 2020 Plans:

  1. Get a theatrical agent 

  2. Demo Reel (Theatrical)  

  3. Book more Commercial roles

  4. Book more TV/Film roles 

  5. Knock out more classes 

  6. Expand my brand’s awareness 

Well, we are extremely excited to see where Akeem takes his brand next! Follow the actor on Instagram to keep up!


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