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Clifton Powell wants people to understand he’s nothing like the characters he plays: We’re trained actors


Jonathan Gibby/FilmMagicVeteran actor Clifton Powell has a strong message for those who compare him to his white counterparts: We are all trained actors that deserve respect.

Powell, who’s appeared in more than one hundred films spanning close to four decades, says his notable acting career is often dismissed because people feel he’s exactly like some of his stereotypical characters.

“I’ve been blessed to play a lot of different characters,” Powell tells ABC Audio. “I often try to remind all the young actors out there and actresses that this isn’t… something that we just picked up and started doing.”

“A lot of times, like especially on IG, I see certain memes,” he continues. “And they kind of take away from the fact that me and Denzel [Washington], and Sam [Jackson], and Angela Bassett and James Pickens, and Viola Davis, we are trained actors just like Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro. And we are masters of our craft.”

From memorable roles like Pinky in Next Friday, to Jeff Brown in Ray and even Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1999 television film Selma, Lord, Selma, Clifton says the characters he plays have nothing to do his own personal connection to them.

“We morph in and out of these characters not because we’re actually like those people, but because we’re trained actors,” he says.

“I saw a meme the other day that said, ‘Don’t trust none of these guys. I don’t trust these guys in real life,'” Clifton recalls, possibly referring to a meme that 50 Cent had posted in March. “In real life. I’ve never been in trouble. Never been arrested. I don’t fight. I don’t do any of that. So I think that’s one thing I want to clear up. And the other thing is, I morph in and out of characters.”

By Candice Williams
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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