Keith Robinson is having the best year ever.
After crooning as CC White alongside Dreamgirls’ Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose 10 years ago, he’s taking his talents to Tupac‘s long-awaited Benny Boom directed biopic, All Eyez On Me, as the late legend’s first manager and TNT founder, Atron Gregory. From acting to songwriting to music, the 40-year-old, who first played the Green Ranger in the TV series Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue, is riding high, sparking his quest to superstardom.
The Kentucky native isn’t an amateur singer, and his latest single, “Love Somebody,” proves his immaculate vocals and seasoned talent. Wooing his heart’s interest with an opening falsetto, the Get On Up actor seduces on the track, a teaser to his new album, Love Episodic, due for a Spring release.
We caught up with the actor as he talked about what fans can expect from ‘Pac’s biopic, what he thinks of the Oscar boycott and more.
The Source: Congratulations on your role in Tupac’s biopic, All Eyez on Me.
Keith Robinson: It’s dope! It’s a classic subject and I hope the movie can do [his story] justice. I’m really happy with the excitement around it, I’m just happy to be a part of it.
How are you preparing for your character?
I’ve just really been doing research on the person. He’s actually still living and breathing. He had a unique connection with ‘Pac as far as being his voice of reason and management in his early days when he was with Digital Underground, pre-Death Row. I’m trying to bring the essence of him to the screen so people can understand what role he played with the legend.
What can we expect when we see All Eyez On Me?
You can expect to learn some things about him, general stuff you didn’t know, like behind-the-scenes stuff which my character knows a lot of. You can expect to be creeped out because the actor (Demetrius Shipp, Jr) looks so much like him! When I’m talking to him on set, you get chills sometimes with certain things he does. He really does bring back ‘Pac’s spirit.
And a lot of the main cast has some type of indirect connection with ‘Pac. His [Shipp’s] dad produced ‘Pac’s last song before he died, “Toss it Up.” So he was in the studio with ‘Pac and those guys as a little toddler, so the irony of him playing him in a movie years later!
I had lunch with Afeni [Shakur] 22 years ago when she lived in Atlanta when ‘Pac was incarcerated in Rikers Island; my group and I took her out to lunch. So we all have our own ‘Pac story so to be able to tell his story is an honor.
What’s your favorite ‘Pac song?
Man, there’s so many, “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” is dope, I love “I Ain’t Mad at You,” “Dear Mama” is a classic and the list goes on and on. I’m just a huge ‘Pac fan—he had so many layers, it’s kind of unfair to pick one song.
You’re a man of many talents; you act, sing and write. Which came first?
Music came first. I’ve been singing my whole life ever since I could remember, I was in singing groups in high school and college. The reason I moved out to LA was to pursue music and the acting thing kind of happened by accident. Singing is definitely my first love, but I’m focused on both acting and music, but it starts and ends with music.
You have a new album coming out in the Spring?
I do, the album is called Love Episodic. I’m excited for people to hear me in my totality. Many people know me as an actor, some know me as a singer, but this album will allow me to come full circle for many.
You talk about love a lot, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?
I remember one time I met a girl and we lost contact and I went through the entire phonebook looking for her. This was back in high school. I went to high school in Augusta, Georgia and the phone book wasn’t that big, but it was big enough!
What’s your love life looking like now?
My love life now is pretty good. I’m seeing somebody, I’m loving somebody. It’s pretty steady. But right now I’m focused on my career and on my projects and all these creative ideas in my head, so whoever I’m with they kind of have to understand where I am with that, cause I’m on a mission. I’m in between two lovers: my real one and my gig!
What’s your opinion on certain Black Hollywood actors boycotting the Oscars? Do you think boycotting is effective in the long run?
You know what? I feel like we’re already making a difference by the fact that you’re asking me the question, because the discussions are opening up. The room is open now. I think people are talking about it and making it more of an issue.
The biggest way to effect them collectively is to support Black films. I think once we get more multicultural ethnic voters on the Academy Board and more movies being made and we support those movies, [change will happen.] But it won’t happen overnight.
Just me having been to the Oscars and it being such a big night and a benchmark on your career, I kind of see how some of the artists that have been invited may be limbo cause you don’t know when you’re going to get back. So I feel for them, but at the same time I think it’s for the greater good, so you gotta suck it up.
What else can we expect from you this year?
I have a new TV show called Saints and Sinners on Bounce TV. We just wrapped and the first episode airs on March 6. It takes place in church, but it’s more about the people in church. I’s a murder mystery, believe it or not.
The soundtrack is incredible too; myself is on there, Kelly Price, Deitrick Haddon, Monica, Big Boi. I have a duet with Erica Campbell from Mary Mary on there. I’m excited for people to check it out.
You got a lot going on!
That’s how I like it. I like to stay busy!