Saints & Sinners – Bounce TV’s first original drama
BY DEON NEWSOM
ulian Walker had a colossal 2015, and it seems like 2016 is shaping up to be no less grand. Following his breakout performance in Blackbird, the 23-year-old quickly gained a taste of movie star status—but this year he’ll be making his debut on television.
“I’m so excited about it,” Walker says of his latest role in Saints & Sinners, airing this Sunday, March 6 at 9:00 p.m. (ET). “The show is definitely amazing.”
Right before the premiere on Bounce TV, Walker sat down with MOSWN to talk about his guest role, service work with the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative, and the final season of American Idol.
The last time we talked was shortly before the release of Blackbird. That was your first major role and it was such a huge platform for you. How has life been since then?
It has definitely changed a lot, and I’m certainly blessed for that… Blackbird was awesome. I’ve graduated college, and I have relocated to Georgia. I’ve gotten an agent. I’ve been grinding, taking voice classes, acting lessons, and working out. I did a commercial and recently filmed episodes of Saints & Sinners, of which I am very excited.
The film received a lot of positive response from the press and on social media as well. I still see people talking about it every now and then on Twitter and Facebook. Were you surprised by the reception or did you expect that when you guys were in the process of making the movie?
To be completely honest, I never knew exactly what to expect. With Blackbird being my first film, I was in a dream world and oblivious to everything. Then people started tweeting me and messaging me on Facebook and Instagram, telling me how much they appreciated the film. To this day, I still get messages about it. It’s just mind-blowing. Making Blackbird I just wanted people to feel like they weren’t alone and that their story was being told. That’s the feedback I’ve gotten, so I’m thankful.
Have you kept in touch with your cast mates?
Yeah, we all talk from time to time. It’s great to see everyone’s growth, where they’re at in life, and how much they’re being blessed.
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You’re in the new show, Saints & Sinners, on Bounce TV. Tell me a little bit about the show and the character you play?
It’s Bounce network’s first original hour-long scripted drama series. My character’s name is Taj. He’s a 19-year-old kid who’s part of the youth choir and has it all figured out until one event takes place in the show and it changes everything about him. It’s one of those experiences that you have and then afterwards you have a totally different outlook on life.
Did you find shooting a TV show different from filming a movie?
It felt good to be back on set and to work with a group of people that are so amazing, and there are so many big names attached to this project that it’s crazy. But it moved fast and was more in sync. I remember with Blackbird, one day we would film the last scene of the movie and then the next day we would film the first scene… but with the TV show it felt more in sync. I thought that was really cool.
Catch a sneak peek of ‘Saints & Sinners’ below!
You’ve been working with the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative also. Can you shed some light on that and the upcoming summit in Louisiana?
It’s one of the many beautiful organizations out there and just a really good support system. What we try to do is motivate the youth within the LGBT community. We get together to come up with ideas to motivate and keep youth engaged with safe sex and valuing themselves. On top of that, we teach them how to be professional, how to dress, how to uphold themselves and build their name. I’m the Arts and Culture Director. At the summit coming up I’ll be doing a presentation on breaking barriers within the LGBT community. I’ll be talking about staying motivated because sometimes there’s a lot of negative stigma that comes from being openly gay or being HIV positive. It’s so much stuff that comes from that. It can break you down and stop you from following your dreams. So I’m definitely excited about my presentation and everyone else’s.
How did you become a part of the group?
Last year they had a summit in Baltimore and they invited me to come and be on a panel. Before going, I didn’t know organizations like that existed. When I went and spoke on the panel it was a beautiful experience. I was touched by it. I spoke with DeShawn Usher, he’s the president this year, and I told him I was interested in helping and that I wanted to be part of the group. When it came around to the doing an application to be on the executive board, I did it. I’m so happy that I did.
I know you’re an American Idol fan. What are your thoughts about this final season?
Growing up I loved music and I always wanted to be a performer. To see someone going out there and being vulnerable and giving their all in front of millions of people, it was so inspiring to me. So this season is a little emotional for me. Not only because it’s the last season, but everyone on there is so talented. There’s two people from my home state, Mississippi. I’m rooting for them.
Do you feel like it’s the right time to end the show?
I think it’s a good time to take a break more so than end the show. I hope that’s what they have up their sleeve. When something happens for a long time people get used to it and take it for granted. I hope they take a break for awhile and then surprise everyone with a comeback.
This has been one of the craziest presidential elections we’ve had. How do feel about this campaign season?
I was watching the news last night with my dad and it’s just crazy to see some of the candidates and how they feel and their views on certain things. It’s crazy to see that some people actually support them. It opens my eyes to knowing that we have a lot more to work on, and there’s a lot more growth that America needs. I just hope and pray that we all stand together and put the right person into office.
You’ve been on this whirlwind ride since you got the part in Blackbird. Thinking back from that time period to now, what’s the greatest piece of advice you can offer to a peer or younger person?
Definitely take a risk. If you’re passionate about something, if you believe you have the power to do what you want to do in life, go for it. If an opportunity comes, don’t second-guess yourself, just go for it. That’s what I did with Blackbird. One other thing, when you take that chance and you have that moment, live in it and value it and have fun.
What’s next for you?
I recently did a photo shoot with Kontrol Magazine. That’s going to be out soon. I’m so excited for everyone to see it. I’m considering starting a YouTube channel, putting videos out there with me singing because that’s also one of my passions. And I’m still auditioning.
‘Blackbird’ Blu-ray™/ DVD giveaway
Want to own ‘Blackbird’ on DVD? Here’s your chance. MOSWN is giving away FREE copies of the hit movie featuring Oscar-winner Mo’Nique, Isaiah Washington, and Julian Walker. Enter here for a chance to win!