By Nsenga K. Burton Ph.D., NNPA Newswire Contributor
Myles Truitt is poised for stardom with the release of his latest project, Kin, opening in theaters Labor Day weekend. Even if you don’t know his name yet, you will soon. The Atlanta, GA teen has starred in a number of high-profile television shows including Queen Sugar, Greenleaf, Black Lightning and his critically-acclaimed performance in the episode of FX’s monster hit Atlanta where he played Devin, a bullied teenager who commits suicide. Truitt also starred in the record-breaking BET biopic ‘The New Edition Story,’ as a young Ronnie DeVoe. The biopic drew record ratings for BET, giving us a glimpse of Truitt’s acting chops.
In Kin, Truitt plays the role of Eli, a young, boy adopted by a white family forced to go on the run when his brother gets into trouble with the wrong folks. Along the way he finds a mystifying weapon to use as protection in their quest for safety and survival. Truitt holds his own playing against acclaimed actors Dennis Quaid, James Franco, Jack Reynor and Zoe Kravitz. The film is gritty and futuristic, the opposite of the young man sitting in front of me who describes his style as casual. Truitt is well-coifed, well-mannered and quiet in demeanor yet confident in presentation.
He admits he kind of fell into acting when all of the basketball slots at the summer camp were sold out. He was given a choice by his parents of staying home with his grandmother or going to theater camp. He chose theater camp and the rest is history. “I learned how to talk to people, how to not be scared and how to carry myself on stage. That eventually helped me when I got in front of the camera,” says the 16-year-old. Once Truitt was bitten by the acting bug, he further developed his craft at the acting company Atlanta Youth Ensemble, where he studied his craft and began auditioning for roles, landing parts on celebrated shows.
Truitt has worked steadily over the last five years in television and is now starring in a major, Hollywood motion-picture where he is the star of the movie. It is rare in Hollywood films for a Black person, let alone a black teenager to be the center of a narrative, so Truitt is breaking new ground in an industry that is often criticized for excluding people of color from central roles in major films. The weight of playing this role as a young, Black man has not escaped Truitt, who has mixed emotions about landing this opportunity.
“I really don’t know how I’m feeling. I’m happy and excited, but I don’t know how to communicate exactly what I’m feeling at this moment, says the thoughtful teenager. “I’m interested in seeing the impact it has on the fans, especially black audiences, because you don’t see young, black males in this type of role, especially in Hollywood.” Truitt is focusing on the “work” while he awaits the film’s reception by audiences and critics. “It hasn’t hit me yet, but I know that it will. I know that it will be a big moment and stepping stone for me in my life.”
“Work” is what Truitt does in this film — shooting action sequences, performing poignant and intimate scenes with Quaid, Reynor and Kravitz and literally moving the narrative forward with each decision his character makes.
One would think a teenager in his first major motion picture, working with an elite group of actors would be intimidated by all that is happening around him. Truitt isn’t intimidated or star struck. He knows he belongs here and his co-stars who fans worship are human beings just like him. He credits his grandfather with teaching him to treat everyone as a friend. “My grandfather was an old soul and he treated everyone in a very respectable manner. It didn’t matter who you were. I learned that from him,” says Truitt.
The teen actor also learned to treat everyone the same. “I hung out with James Franco, who is a huge actor. Most people would be afraid to talk to him, but I wasn’t. I treated him like I treat everyone. Like a friend. He treated me the same.” The bonds that were formed during filming are on display throughout the film.
Truitt talks about connecting with the script, the actors and the story. It was Truitt’s connection with Kin’s director Jonathan Baker and the short film “Bagman” upon which the film is based that excited him about the film. “I saw a lot of myself in the character – he’s strong, independent and a rebel – and I wanted to play that role.” When it came to working with Reynor, Truitt sees him as a big brother just as he is on the big screen.
“When it comes to my relationship with Jack, we don’t see color. He doesn’t see Black. I don’t see white. We see each other,” says the reflective teen. “When it comes to society, I think we could learn to be brothers and to be together, even if it’s not blood,” he adds. “I define brother as the connection that you have with each other. It’s the connection that defines the relationship, not color,” he offers. “If I had a white friend and he was really down with me, then that’s still my brother.”
Like his grandfather, Truitt is an old soul who may have been here before. His words and outlook on life defy his age. What is certain is Truitt is on the brink of movie stardom and opening doors, hearts and minds in the process.
Kin is now playing in theaters. Check local listings for theater showtimes.