Can you imagine one day just being a normal college student walking to class, going to study sessions and chilling with friends, to the next day on a whim after submitting an online audition tape and landing the main character spot in an independent feature film alongside an Academy Award winning actress. Well this scenario is all too true for the Hattiesburg, University of Southern Mississippi student and now college alum Julian Walker, when he attended an open call audition for a feature film shooting locally. Although having no prior acting experience, Walker’s untapped, natural talent caught the eye of writer-director Patrik-Ian Polk in which he nabbed the lead role after submitting an online audition tape. He had never acted before, and didn’t think he had a true shot at landing the part. But just weeks later, he suddenly found himself on set and in the presence of some of the most acclaimed names in entertainment.
Julian walker, 22 and a native Jackson, Mississippi native is a recent graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi where he appeared in the school’s production of the Broadway musical “Rent” and “Spring Awakening” before landing his first leading role in the independent feature film “Blackbird ” directed by Patrik-Ian Polk, who coincidently enough is also a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi.
Blackbird, based on the novel of the same name by Larry Duplechan, is an independent film Starring Julian Walker alongside Isaiah Washington and Academy Award Winner Mo’Nique , tells the story of a devout high school choir boy, who throughout the film struggles with his sexuality while living in his conservative Mississippi town. While his mother blames him for his sister’s disappearance, his father guides him into manhood. Walker was also surrounded by the likes of Terrell Tilford, Torrey Laamar, D. Woods, Gary L. Gray, Kevin Allesee, and Nikki Jane as well. Walker explains his experience working on his first film alongside an ensemble cast.
“Filming was so much fun, I can admit that I was nervous especially with it being my first film. So I didn’t know what to expect, and then finding out Mo’Nique was apart of and Isaiah Washington and Gary Gray, I don’t know I was freaking out a little bit lol. However everybody on set reassured me that everything was going to be okay. Patrick, the Director was amazing, he worked with me almost everyday so that I could be comfortable with the script and the scenes and everything. So I’m just beyond blessed to have worked with such a talented cast.”
Walker goes on to explain the challenges of filming and also maintaining a steady attendance in class while attending college.
“It was really fun but hard at the same time because I was just a student at the time as well so it would be like I’m filming all day and then I would have to go home and do my homework and then go back to studying my lines. In college I was really really involved. I was apart of a lot of organizations so I looked at it as kind of an extra project that I was doing, you know like an extra test I would have to do everyday. So it felt natural to me. It was time consuming but at the end of the day it was worth it because it was something that I always wanted to do. So it really just gave me that push to up my game just that more to continue doing it.”
Walkers latest project is Saints & Sinners a new American prime time television soap opera. The series follows the conflicts among the members of Greater Hope Baptist Church in small-town Georgia. With a history stretching over several generations, Greater Hope Baptist Church and its surrounding community are a family in themselves. However, in this family, love and loyalty have become tainted by lust, greed, and deeply ingrained secrets. With the return of a prodigal son and a shocking crime that rattles the core of the community, mysteries begin to unravel that could destroy the very heart of the church and shatter the lives of those within it. The series premiered on Bounce TV March 6, 2016, as the network’s first original drama to rave reviews.
“My character is Tahj he’s a 19-year-old student and he’s apart of the youth choir and he basically has it all together up until one unfortunate event happens and it kind of changes his whole outlook on life. I love the character so much because growing up, you know just like in Black Bird, I grew up in the church, I grew up singing just like my character Tahj, he loves church and loves to be apart of it and singing as well. He looks up to a lot of the males in the church and that’s something also that I did when I was younger, so it just a blessing to tell another story kind of similar to myself, you know with the religious background and I think that’s really cool.”
Also starring Vanessa Bell Calloway, known for her roles in Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), Daylight (1996) and Coming to America (1988), Clifton Powell known for his roles in films such as Ray (2004), Next Friday (2000) and Menace II Society (1993) and Keith Robinson known for his roles in This Christmas (2007) and Dreamgirls (2006), as well as a host of other well known actors. Walker talks about his experience working with such the ensemble cast.
“Its amazing I remember we had our first table read, and I’m a little shy you know lol, I stay in the background and you know I don’t really say much but little do they know I’m looking up like oh my gosh, Keith Robinson, like dude I watched you in Dreamgirls, like dude I wanted to play your part on Broadway so bad lol. As well as the rest of the class like they’re so talented and its just so amazing to see veterans work you know, I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”
Walker a newbie to the acting world, and a recent college graduate wants to give those fellow aspiring actors and dreamers’ alike encouraging words on following your dreams with this detailed statement.
“Take a risk, I remember when I first heard about the casting for Black Bird I was like aw man I would like to audition for it, I would love to just go for it but you know in the back of my mind I was second guessing myself like you’ve never done this before, you don’t know how it works it was that moment when like you really want to do something but you’re the only one standing in your way of doing it, so I would definitely tell anyone who wants to be an actor or whatever to definitely take a risk, don’t stand in your way of making your dreams come true, to take a chance, definitely believe in yourself and follow your dreams, and keep pushing, sky’s the limit I’m like the proof of that. I took a chance and look where it’s gotten me. I’m just beyond blessed.”
Walker is definitely making waves as a newcomer in the entertainment business, already having a starring role in a feature film, and being featured on talk shows like The View and The Meredith Vieira Show, into his new role on Saints & Sinners; this recent college grad is definitely on his way to the top. You can catch Walker acting alongside an ensemble cast on Bounce TV’s Hit new show Saints & Sinners every Sunday 8/9pm central. Also Walker’s first feature film Blackbird is available now on Blu-ray and DVD and includes never-before seen special features, including deleted scenes, audition footage, and a behind the scenes featurette.
Shot By Nathan Pearcy (www.npearcypics.com), Styled by Julian R. Lark (www.JulianRLark.com) Assisted by Zamar Lewis, Grooming by Kwame Waters
Wardrobe provided by Diesel (Lenox Mall)