Rising tv star and former University California Santa Barbara basketball player (Cliff) Clifton Powell shared his trials and tribulations on and off the court. He was quite candid while discussing his new journey through Hollywood, the importance of his philanthropy work and handling the pressures of being an actor’s son.
Cliff’s star is gradually rising as he embraces starting from the bottom and humbly working his way to the top. Between weekly audiences and developing projects, he recently began production on his first short film titled PRO-POSAL. This spring he will make his tv debut in a recurring role on BET’s new show “Games Divas Play” starring Lauren London.
As the son of Hollywood actor Clifton Powell, who many people may recognized in such movies as Menace to Society, Woman Thou Art Loosed, Next Friday and Friday after Next. Cliff contributes his father’s career as an enormous inspiration to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. “I remember going on movie sets with him and his approach regarding the work fueled my passion for acting and directing over the years. It allowed me the opportunity to watch his patience, professionalism and diligent work ethic first hand”. “My father has not only inspired me as actor, but as man. His unshakeable will to never give up is at cord of who I am today”.
With the recent Oscar buzz surrounding Denzel Washington’s son (John David Washington) in the movie BlackkKlansman. He spoke about the difference in breaking out of the shadow of his father as well as using his dad’s platform as a vehicle to navigate his own opportunities. Cliff expresses how this story hits close to home and is relatable in his own personal experience. “Yes, it’s a little different (laughing) his dad is Denzel Washington, but don’t get me wrong my dad is well known too”! Honestly, being my dad’s name sake has not hurt me at all. When people hear or Google the name they recognize my dad. In this business a helping hand is always a positive. I realize that I have to find my own angles and figure out my niche in acting and directing. I want to continue the legacy my father has already started.
Acting has not always been at the forefront of Cliff’s life. After making the tough decision to walk away from basketball and pursue acting fulltime, his next chapter commenced. Leaving nothing on the table, Cliff describes his transition thus far.
“It’s been an eye-opening process to say the least. With basketball I had a certain routine that I followed: workouts, practice and games. This acting game is a different beast. Now I am balancing open casting calls, auditions and rehearsals. I recall learning plays to run in a game, which I knew I was going to play in. Now I am learning lines with only a possibility that I might have the chance to win the role. The key to my healthy transition began with me trusting in all my abilities and stepping out on a limb to pursue a different career”.
Reminded of the coaches and mentors he had in his life growing up. He wanted to issue a message of hope and encouragement to the children who look up to him. “Nothing is finally, there is life after basketball. Never be afraid to try something new. All my years of discipline and preparation with basketball, have provided me a road map to success. I have a remarkable support system, but I also have doubters who are expecting me to fail. I will not only prove them wrong, my plan is to be an example for others along the way”.
Breaking into the entertainment industry has it challenges, Cliff explained what has been one of his toughest obstacle he has encounter. “I recently audition eight times for a role that I did not get. It was a hard, but rewarding lesson to learn. Staying patient at all cost, knowing that there will be times where no news is good news. The experience alone is preparing me for the next role I do get”. Cliff already has his sights set on that dream role, but it’s not what you think. “It would be an honor and pleasure to work on a movie or tv set with my father. I guess that’s my dream role, working with my father as a fellow actor”.
For the first time in Cliff’s life basketball became secondary and acting took center stage. The motivation to explore other talents powered by his desires to step outside the box and follow his passion. “I must admit basketball was my first love and it will always be a part of my life. Playing at University California Santa Barbara was a dream that ended unfortunately; after I participated in a Nike commercial that never aired. I lost my eligibility, and at that moment I had a choice to make. Go play overseas in Iceland or refocus on something I am passionate about (acting), so I selected door number 2. One day I would love to be a sports broadcaster like my uncle James Brown, even though retaining stats is not my specialty.
During our interview Cliff gave me five truths that new fans should definitely know about him. “1. My goal is create a body of work that brings happiness, joy and positivity into people’s lives. 2. I have an amazing work ethic and love doing what I do. 3. I love interacting and having long conversations with people. 4. From day to day learning new things makes me feel complete. 5. Philanthropy work makes me feel alive.
As a rising tv star Cliff understands the importance of reaching backwards. Giving back is not what he does, but who he is. His non-profit organization The Powell Helps Foundation started with the simply desire of wanting to help those in need. Now he has an outstanding partnership with Sole Brothers. On Sundays and holidays they give away personal hygiene products, clothing, shoes and provide meals to individuals on Skid Row in Los, Angeles California. “I personally feel the act of giving back is not our obligation, but our responsibility”. If anyone would like to donate go to gofundme.com/powell-help-foundation or contact us on Instagram @Thepowellhelp
What’s next Cliff? “Everything! Heading into 2019 pilot season, I am expecting to book more tv roles and get my first movie break. Throughout my life I have attended numerous red carpets as my father’s plus one; finally I want to attend one as the talent. Looking towards the future I want to grow my foundation in both size and service”.