Photo | Bridger Scott | @bridger
Creative Direction | AllanTroy | @allantroy_
Fashion Editor | Alex Shera | @alexshera
Graphic | Jeanette Chiu | @jeanette.sc
Grooming | Jacob Aguirre | @j_adz
Keiynan Lonsdale better known as Wally West on CW’s hit series The Flash sits down with us to talk about him coming out, his favorite actors and his other not so hidden talents.
Kode | You’ve been a part of big projects like “The Flash,” and even joined projects that hit social issues like some of your latest projects, “Like.Share.Follow.” and “Love, Simon.” Do you connect with any of these projects on a personal level? What do you look for in a role?
Yes, I connect with them all in different ways. For “Love, Simon” in particular, I feel like this movie can change the world, and I know that because if I got to watch something like this growing up.. I would have realised that I wasn’t alone.
In terms of what I look for in a role, now that I have a few credits under my belt, I look for at least 1 of 3 things: Will this provide an opportunity to make ridiculously fun memories? / Do I feel challenged by and connected to this character? / Does this story have the power to shift the way the world thinks?
Kode | You had several projects release in 2017, as an actor and an artist how do you manage to make time for yourself and really stay balanced with your hectic schedule?
Yeah that’s something I specifically focused on this year actually, finding my balance, finding myself amidst all the chaos. I’ve taken a fair amount of time away from work this year to figure a lot of things out about my spirit and about the world. I thought all of my problems would go away when I found “success,” but the line always gets further…and the personal issues eventually creep their way in and build up to a boiling point – this is for anyone. I never hung with friends, I never partied, I never just went to a beach to relax, and I never wanted to ask myself deep questions…I just spent my days trying to work hard and push my career forward…I was unconsciously stuck on a loop.
Eventually I broke at the beginning of this year and I started getting anxiety attacks in both private & public environments. I got to several breaking points for several different reasons…and thank god, because they actually led me to learn how to let go and enjoy life. Through that process, I found myself in the most special way – I went to this music festival in May called Lightning In A Bottle, and on the 2nd night I got struck (pun not intended) with an epiphany/answer, and from there my world changed forever. I still work hard because I enjoy being challenged, but I now know that my worth is much more than a TV show, a movie, an album, a whole dream even… ultimately my worth is in my heart, my worth is in the fact that I’m a living and breathing human being who gets to experience what it’s like to be alive. Everything else is just a bonus, & when it stops feeling like a bonus, when it makes me forget my worth, I take time away.
Kode | You’ve sang several genres with the songs you have released or featured on. As an artist What kind of music genre would you like to dabble in and explore? Is there any specific artists that influence or inspire you?
I want to dabble in and learn from all genres. I especially love popular artists who’ve become genre defying – Rihanna, Michael Jackson, Pharrell, Frank Ocean, Beyoncé etc. I think anyone who brings new life into music, whatever kind they do, is inspiring.
Kode | In Your recently released single, “Good Life” you talk about the ease and freedom or living life without complications. What inspired you the most for creating “Good Life” and what does it mean to you?
When we were making “Good Life,” it was me projecting what I wished my reality could be, but when the time came to creating the music video months later…I had actually gotten to the point where it really was my reality! I didn’t even know it could exist. The experiences I had this year with my friends…the love, the honesty, the highs and lows…they define such a life transition for me, and we all came together to represent a celebration of that in the video. It’s essentially how I view the future of the world, and I want to share what I see in hopes that others can see it too one day.
Kode | Wally just recently decided to leave Central City after feeling like he needed to find himself after his breakup and the return of Barry. Does that mean he’s off the show for good? Can we expect a Wally West spin off?
Hmm… Nothing’s permanent. I don’t expect a Wally West spin off, but it would be cool.
Kode | If you could write your own spin off for Wally West, what would he be doing besides being a kickass superhero of course… Any other CW franchise that you would love to make an appearance on?
Wally and I are in a similar place, he’s on the path to finding himself and he’s giving himself the space to grow and learn beyond what he currently knows. I think it would be awesome to see that journey, to see where his travels take him, and to find out what being a superhero actually means to him. You can have powers & save the world, but what if even that didn’t fulfill you anymore? You’d need to reassess your values and your views on life.
Kode | We’ve seen actors like The Chris Hemsworth bloom from Australia to World famous with his character of Thor. Are there any influential actors that inspire you in your career?
I love how many Aussie actors are killing it here, I hope it opens up even more opportunities for the industry back home.
I love actors who transform, not necessarily in a physical way…but more so in their essence. I think people like Dane DeHaan, Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender (to name a small few) do that extremely well. I also love watching someone like Michael B. Jordan, he’s a great actor and I think he’s portrayed some really important characters.
Kode | You mentioned you came out publicly 5 months ago, while also promoting a project you’re a part of, “Love, Simon.” What was your personal struggle with coming out? You mentioned that you wanted to stay quiet about your sexuality until you were around 80, what changed your mind? What was it like when you finally did?
It’s been a life long struggle, as many, (if not all) queer people will understand. At an early age in childhood, you can very quickly pick up on the views of society and even though you may question them at first, at some point over the years you start to process those views as fact. When the lie is embedded in you that non-straight people are less human, less incredible, less valuable, and less worthy…you do what you can to change your identity…because nothing feels worse than believing you as you are, is less than enough. I placed my significance on being liked, being loved, because I didn’t love myself. I became obsessed with the idea of fame, success, and perfection, because I hoped it meant that I mattered, it mattered more to me than being happy.
When I first came out to my friend Dylan at the age of 20, it wasn’t by choice. I felt pure devastation and at the time it seemed like the worst thing that could ever happen, but he told me an important thing…that I was just Keiynan, and maybe I don’t have to be anything other than that. It planted a seed, cemented our friendship, and gave me a safe space to be myself, but it wasn’t enough to take me out of my almost 20 years of self-training where I believed the opposite.
It was through both beautiful and terrible experiences, through pain, through desperation, through falling in love, through heart break, through overcoming fear, through friends/family, through my therapist (thank you lol), through questions, and through searching for answers. It was through the story of my life as Keiynan…that eventually enabled me to unlock the key to my heart. I felt it opening, I felt what it was to actually like myself for the first time ever in my life…and it felt so fucking cool. I’m crying as I write this now because sometimes I forget how long I spent hating Keiynan…I get complacent with the fact that now, I love him. He’s (sorry for the third person) a fucking great human being, who only wants to learn about the world, and open up other people’s hearts to believing in real magic. When I finally came out publicly this year, I allowed myself to become the guy I was destined to be – a man who knows what it’s like to experience love in the highest possible form, a man who loves existence itself, & absolutely everything within it, whether it loves him back or not.
Kode | Recently a lot has come to light on the pressures of making it in the industry and serious issues of sexual assault. What are your thoughts on being an actor in Hollywood since the recent news of all the sexual allegations with Harvey Weinstein and now Kevin Spacey?
I think it goes hand in hand with what I said at the end of my second answer, ya know we’re taught to believe that we are just a small piece in this industry and that we should feel nothing but lucky to get a role or a great career opportunity (I’ve been told this by bosses in the past, it’s a form of deflection and manipulation). But, this is another lie. The film, the show, the art, the industry, is equally as lucky to have us, as we are lucky to have it… this is a MUTUAL exchange in all forms. Unfortunately, our society doesn’t think that way, nor does Hollywood, therefore abuse of power is bound to happen, and it’s bound to be supported. It can be scary world, and there are monsters, but there are angels too.
Kode | Have you ever been in a situation like this? How would you encourage future actors and actresses to stand up for themselves?
Thankfully, I haven’t. And who knows if I would have had the courage to do anything about that kind of situation if it happened to me while I was starting out…I honestly don’t know.
I will say this for actors though, you chose this path so that you can create art and live your dream, not to be assaulted. If you are being abused, mistreated, disrespected, and/or cornered into uncertainty, then you must speak up, and you must do it knowing that you have the right to speak up. Times are also changing, and although your bosses or the company you work for might not help you, there are plenty of people out there who will. Hollywood does not own us, it only thinks it does, so we either let the cycle continue, or we break it.
Kode | You have worked on many big acting projects in the last three years and have even taken up singing, with your own released singles and some Instagram videos on your personal profile. If you had to choose between acting or singing, what would you choose?
I get asked this all the time, but I don’t believe we should compare art forms and I don’t really want to. Whether or not I do them professionally forever doesn’t matter, I will always act, I will always sing, and I will always dance. Right when I neglect one of those things, I become imbalanced.
Kode | Now that you have come out and have become a public figure for the LGBTQ community, how do you use your social platforms to speak on social issues, especially the ones that affect the communities closest to you? How is it important?
All I really do right now is share my truth, lead by example, and let others know that they’re not alone. I do that through my music, fashion, social media, etc. I want to creatively destroy our perception of normal, and in turn open up people’s minds to be accepting of what is different or unknown to them.
But in general, when there is something I don’t feel equipped to speak on, I keep the thinking process to myself and within my close circle of friends. This is all still new ground for me. I need to educate myself on LGBTQ issues I probably don’t even know exist. I can preach about how wonderful my time has been since coming out, which it has, but everyone’s situation is different. The best thing I can do is learn and hear people’s stories, that’s what I’m focusing on right now & that’s what I think will help me help others.
Kode | After being a superhero, you have basically accomplished everything but what’s coming up next for Keiynan Lonsdale?
No idea, but I can’t wait to find out!