In Conversation With Actor Kendrick Sampson And His Dedication To Making Active Changes Wherever Necessary

Atrue advocate for change and community building, Sampson is currently in the third year of BLD PWR, an organization committed to taking action and how to do so in a healthy way. The ultimate goals are to build up the next wave of activists while providing resources and tools for equitable change on a grassroots level.

Who is Kendrick Sampson in 5 words?
Liberator, Storyteller, Lover, Fighter, Foodie.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen while in quarantine?
The #CancelRent movement being organized by Housing Justice 4 All, LA Tenants Union, Philadelphia Tenants Union, and many others. The work of The Center for Popular Democracy around #Recovery4all. Texas Organizing Project on Medicaid. The work of Mary Hooks, and Patrisse Cullors, Justice-LA, and the #FreeThemAll2020 campaign to release as many people held in cages as possible because of their particular unsanitary conditions and vulnerability to COVID-19. I have seen a lot of interesting things. If you are talking about shows…Bedlam on PBS and Little Fires Everywhere.

How do you mentally handle yourself while on set?
I have to breathe a lot. I perform breathing exercises. I do my best to focus on when it is necessary. I do my best to relax and channel nerves into the scene. All very important. More than anything, I do my work before I get to set and do my best to trust that and live and leave it all on the court…

What type of movie do you like to act in the most?
Any movie with complex, flawed, and highly nuanced characters. My favorite genres are probably thrillers, murder mysteries, dramedies, grounded comedies, and supernatural films.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?
Everything. Collaborating with the right people on the art and business side. Finding those people. Finding funding. Getting people to believe in or even see the potential in your vision. Following through despite obstacles. Turning obstacles into advantages. On the creative side, for me, editing your own work is a nightmare.

How do you balance your work and private life?
Honestly, it all kind of blends in for me. I am not very good at balance and it’s probably because I do not believe in balance. I tend to focus on co-existence, duality, and nuance. At the same time, I lean heavier on work. I get it from my mom. Gratefully, my work fulfills me in a lot of ways. As far as “private life,” I have always kept things close to the vest, but I do my best to reveal things not to people but to a purpose. In other words, if I believe a part of my story will help someone, then I will tell it, even to a complete stranger.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
I would want everyone to utilize their art, platforms, and positions for the liberation of the most vulnerable. People hear that and think I want to see all the activism stories. No. We are artists. There are so many creative ways to go about this. Insecure is a great example. Black people just being. Historically, we do not get to see that often. We usually have to be the “first Black” this or that, or some evil being or slave – very little nuance.

Not only that, but they employ Black writers, staff, production assistants, designers, products, and highlight predominantly Black areas in LA. They invest in the community and support Black-owned businesses. That is liberatory work. That is just one example. We need more. Do not misinterpret me though. We also need stories about liberators, radical movements, and wins made through those movements and revolutions. Liberators like Ida B. Wells and others that made it to the end of her life.

Benjo Arwas

If you could tell your former self one thing right now what would it be?
You are perfectly imperfect and everything that you are will be used to do great things and liberate people far above what you can ever imagine. Just focus on that goal. God loves you and is proud of you.”

How do you continue to use your platform to enlighten the world about injustices?
I am constantly looking for ways to leave this world a better place than I found it. I work to educate myself on who the most vulnerable are that are being targeted by oppressors and systems. I identify privileges in my life and then study, create, and execute ways to utilize those privileges to liberate those people. Social media, community, conversing, learning network, art, finances, time, organizing, volunteering for liberation-oriented community-based organizations, are all ways to utilize our platforms for liberation. Our platforms are our lives. Everyone has one. Everyone can participate in liberation efforts.

Creative Director: Andre’ Adkins. Captured by Benjo Arwas @ Seen Artists