By Noah Washington, NNPA Newswire Contributor
The BlerdBinder covers nerdy news for the Black nerds of the world. We welcome all as we talk about subjects ranging from music and tech to toys.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Demetrius Grosse, an actor and producer born and raised in Washington, D.C. We sat down with him to discuss his life, career and ambitions.
Grosse graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and has appeared in major feature films and television productions, including: “Straight Outta Compton,” “Banshee,” “The Brave,” “13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” “Heroes,” “Westworld,” “Lovecraft Country” and, most recently, in the AMC drama, “Fear The Walking Dead.”
Grosse studied drama in prestigious institutions such as Oxford’s British American Drama Academy and Howard University College of Arts.
NNPA: Great! So let’s start with my first question. Are you a big sci-fi fan?
Demetrius: I would consider myself a little more of a sci-fi reader than a fan. I’ve read short stories by Octavia Butler. Some of my most favorite books of all time are “Ender’s Game” and “Fahrenheit 451.” So, I am more of a science fiction novella, reader. I don’t watch a lot of science fiction. However, recently, I’ve been blessed to be able to be a part of a lot of science fiction which has been really interesting.
NNPA: Yeah. So what type of stories are you interested in?
Demetrius: I love relationship-driven stories–stories that highlight our culture, and historical narratives. But you know I have been able to be in very innovative and forward-thinking sci-fi projects. I’m getting more into the genre.
NNPA: You have a heavy theatre background. Tell me what first got you interested in theatre.
Demetrius: [It’s] just the ability to tell story and history, to learn narrative through performance, and through visual mediums. The first [play] I ever saw was in South Carolina at [a] Soldiers Home and it was about the Buffalo Soldiers, the heralded brigades of WWII. It was like I saw history come alive a little bit.
I had heard about the Buffalo Soldiers, as my grandfather was a Buffalo Soldier, but looking at stories in textbooks kind of left… It was a little flat.
When I saw these brothers portraying it, it really inspired me to want to delve into more of what it means to be a performer. I saw the impact that it could have, I was just a young kid going to my first play. Who knew years later that it would inspire me to pursue it as a profession and as a career.
NNPA: That’s when you knew that you wanted to be an actor? When you saw those stories and the power?
Demetrius: I saw that it was a tool to be used to highlight and to show our stories. Like reading something is one thing, but seeing it with all the other artistry that goes into it. It’s something else.
There’s he literary part when you have the writer, but then there’s production design, the sound design and the performances. It was just exciting to me and I’m still fascinated by it. Like a Rubix cube you never really quite have it figured out.
It’s a craft and a profession where you are always learning. There is always a new challenge and the moment you think you’ve got it, somebody says, “Hey can you play this character or “Can you delve into this world, and “Can you make this real.”
So, you go back into your tool box, you consult your muse, and you go into it. It is always brand new and that’s the real exciting part. It’s always new ,and it’s always fresh. You know your tool kit and then you are always finding new ways and innovative ways to use those to tell a story and to create an experience that’s worthwhile.
NNPA: So can you tell me who is your favorite actor to work with?
Demetrius: Man, I really have to think about that. That is a stumper. You had that question loaded up and you didn’t tell me.
NNPA: That’s what we do here. Try to keep you on your toes.
Demetrius: I don’t know who my favorite actor to share a scene with is. I recently did a scene with Elise Neal in this movie called, “Survival” that’s about to come out. It’s produced by Henry and Leah Daniels-Butler.
Maybe that’s because it was recent. She is an amazing actress. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with her.
I don’t know who’s my favorite. You know my favorite actor is the one that is willing to play and create in a collaborative way. Everybody is going to bring their flavor. Everybody is gonna bring their sauce.
It would be preposterous for me to say one person is my favorite. I mentioned Elise because it was recent and she a phenomenal actress, but I’ve been blessed to work with so many phenomenal people. I find that when people come to work and they can play, and they are the most fascinating and fun to work with. That can be anyone on any given Sunday.
NNPA: What is a role that you’ve auditioned for that you didn’t get, but that you really wanted to play?
Demetrius: I’ve wanted to play? I don’t think about those as much. If it doesn’t happen for me, say I’ll like a script and it doesn’t go my way, I’ll really let that monkey off my back and just enjoy the performances.
I don’t have a ton of those that I’ve sorta looked back and wished, “I should have done that.” I’ve always had the philosophy of the best is yet to come and that the things are meant for you will find you. I’m a big believer in divine order, even destiny.
That might have not been the answer you were looking for, but I don’t have it ostensibly off the top of my head. There are roles that I hope I get to play and projects I want to be a part of.
NNPA: Recently, I have noticed that HBO likes to cast a lot of the same actors. They are making a Green Lantern TV series and you know there is a role out there that some people might have heard of, John Stewart. Are there any auditions?
Demetrius: There’s been talks. There is some talks online. I’ve looked at some of the blog sites and I’ve been nominated to be considered.
NNPA: We are putting it out there. Would you want to be a Green Lantern?
Demetrius: I want to do anything that stretches me. I haven’t done anything in the comic-verse. I’m curious to what type of journey that would be, so yes.
NNPA: I have to disagree to an extent on comic universes. You were a part of “Heroes”!
NNPA: For anybody out there listening, [Heroes] was the precursor for superhero television. When people say, “What made superhero television popular?” I often point to “Heroes,” which redefined the genre. What was that like?
Demetrius: That was me fresh out of the gate of school. It’s literally when I was first coming to L.A. Heroes was the biggest show on television at the time. I got a chance to play a Haitian revolutionary and that was bananas.
Just learning the patois and the creole and getting an opportunity to learn French and put that up on the screen was profound.
I remember going into that audition and wearing an eye patch and it was funny because the director was like, “We saw you come in with the eye patch and we thought this guy was crazy.” But somehow, I got the role. From that I learned (and this is what I pass on to actors) in your process, make bold choices in any profession, make bold choices.
There is always gonna be criticisms and critiques, but when you make a choice that really resonates with you and it’s something that you really believe in, especially if it’s coming from the right space of wanting to add and serve the story, you’ll be surprised at how it comes back around even. Even if it’s not what people initially thought the way the role was going to go. “Heroes’ ‘ was a lot of fun and it still comes up over a decade later.
NNPA: What does your character study consist of?
Demetrius: My character study is literature. I like “The Empty Space,” by Peter Brook, “Truth,” by Susan Batson. I like “No Acting Please,” by Eric Morris and Joan Hotchkis.
Then, more than that, I hear myself saying — and it sounds kinda pious — but the Bible.
The Bible is a phenomenal book whether you are religious or not. Whether you have a relationship with Jesus Christ or not. Philosophically and energetically, if not in the terms of a person’s creed. There’s a lot of books!