INTERVIEW: Actor and “Superintelligence” Star Jock McKissic

Pic by Storm Santos

Hi Jock, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hello! I’ve been blessed, everything considered. I’m healthy and in good spirits, so that speaks volumes at this moment.

So from my understanding, your love for acting came from watching Oprah – how did that come about and how were you finally drawn into the acting world?

Yes, Oprah had a good bit to do with it. I always liked to entertain as a kid and enjoyed watching Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, Denzel Washington, Jim Carrey, and Chris Tucker films. My great grandmother would always watch The Oprah Show, and of course, a great deal of her guests were entertainers. I knew the impact that she had on my community and I would see the impact her guests had on her and her audience. My goal as a kid was to change the World, and my love to entertain seemed to fit right into the world of acting. I knew at age six that I would eventually become an actor. My first performance happened to be that following year, a Black History program where I was Dr. MLK Jr.

As an activist (one of your early best work as a performer was performing and saying the whole iconic MLK “I Have A Dream” speech) – does this side of you influence in any way your acting?

That side of me influences my acting, without a doubt. At age 7 I could comprehend just how much Dr. MLK Jr. meant to my community, and that spoke volumes to me. I knew then, and I’ve now witnessed, the amount of room we have for growth and change in our world. The bigger your platform, the wider your influence, and in today’s society entertainers are often leaders in social matters. I’m 100% aware and prepared for that. My dream role would be taking on the role of a historical activist/leader.

Speaking of acting and dreams, let’s talk about Superintelligence – what was the audition process like?

The audition process was very similar to most. It was a smaller role, which I was very much open to it, with it being a feature film. It was a mail boy role, within a huge tech company.

What drew you into this role?

Melissa McCarthy drew me to it. Lol. I knew the role would be in her film and the scene would be with her. I’ve always been a big fan of her work.

When it comes to comedy – does your approach tends to change? Do you try to chop your comedy skills, even focus more on it or how do you go balancing both?

I think I’ve always had a knack for comedic timing, and I honed in on those skills even more through improv classes. I’ve learned that funniest moments come from you genuinely being natural and responding as that character. I’ve had more drama opportunities, but it’s always a nice change of speed when I can let down my comedy curls. Lol

So it seems like you came into this role expecting just another minor appearance – what was it like to be upgraded into a much prominent character of sorts?

I absolutely was expecting a minor appearance. When I got to set, the wardrobe team gave me a completely different than I was expecting. They told me that Melissa, handpicked the outfit and that she was looking forward to seeing my onset. I immediately thought to myself, “I wonder why she’s looking forward to talking to me?” Well, as soon as I got to set she called me over and introduced herself and her husband Ben, the director. She told me she wanted to change the character to a computer engineer, and then walked me over the writer, Steve Mallory. She explained her idea to him, and he re-wrote the scene on the spot, it was crazyyyy! Lol. Melissa reassured me that we’d have fun and to let go and not be afraid to make it my own. An hour or so we shot the scene and it was amazing. I showed up expecting to be a mail guy and went home a computer engineer.

Let’s be honest, were you trying to pull this out, was this you planning, or did it actually come as a complete surprise?

I mean it’s an actor’s dream to get a bigger character arc or a more significant role. I didn’t plan it, but I’m always praying for it. It caught me by complete surprise!

I am guessing you were praying Jesus when the same happened again on another film?

You better know it! That film is Breaking News in Yuba County. My character is Lenny, a producer for an independent news station. The character remained the same, but the director Tate Taylor just opened his storyline up a bit more. I thank God for that opportunity as well. The cast includes Mila Kunis, Allison Janney, Regina Hall, Awkwafina, Juliette Lewis, Wanda Sykes, Samira Wiley, and a bunch of other great people that I was honored to be amongst. Tate Taylor is an actor’s director, can’t wait to work with him again.

Does knowing you had more to do put any pressure on you?

If you view it that way I guess. I personally think it gives me a bigger sense of pride. You become more indulged in the storyline and the process of the project.

How did you get to prepare for the role?

In both of those situations, it happened on the fly. With Superintelligence it happened as soon as I got to set, they changed the character. As for, Yuba County, I was already prepared to be Lenny, so whenever we’d be filming, Tate would just throw another scene in for me on the day.  The biggest preparations for these type situations happen before you book a role, in class. You have to be prepared to improv and dig deeper into a character’s fiber.

What would you say was the most challenging aspect?

The most challenging aspect would be remembering the lines on the spot. I think you get better with time though. You learn different techniques to retain them pretty quickly.

When and where can people catch on the film?

Superintelligence will released on HBOMax. Breaking News in Yuba County will be a theater release more than likely. COVID threw of the industry a great deal, so release dates are unknown at the moment.

What else is happening next in Jock McKissic’s world?

At the moment I’m multitasking. I’m focused on a company I partly own, Elevate Your Grind, which is a motivational brand. We focus on uplifting and empowering individuals spiritually, physically, and mentally. We sell athletic leisure clothing as well as do keynote/motivational speaking through the company. My business partner, Jeremy Gray, also has a non-profit called, “The Curtis House”, that I’m a board member for. The organization is a physical location in the urban area of our hometown, Opelika, Alabama. The Curtis House will not only serve as a learning location for the youth, but a leisure and activity location. There’s an organic garden on-site, a deck where exercises take place, and the house will include, computers and different rooms for tutoring.

Film-wise, I’m producing a feature film titled, Haunted Trail, written by Raven Magwood, and directed by Robin Givens. We’re shooting in Greenville, Sc at the end of this month until mid-November. It’s an exciting horror film that stars Desi Banks, Rhyon Nicole Brown, Sir Brodie, and Reggie Couz.

I’m also starting back on a show I was working on before COVID. Your Honor, it’s a Showtime original and stars Bryan Cranston. My character is, Alan Underwood and I’m Michael Desiato’s (Bryan Cranston) bailiff. My character is in 9 out of the 10 episodes and we’re shooting in New Orleans,

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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