ABOVE PHOTO: Kevin Savage (Photo courtesy of Kevin Savage)
By Kharisma McIlwaine
Philadelphia has always been known for having an immense amount of talent – Kevin Savage is proof of that.
Savage began his acting career with his former church Victory Christian Center’s rendition of “Little Shop of Horrors.” He landed the lead role of Seymour in the production. That role solidified his desire to pursue acting professionally. After testing the waters, traveling back and forth to Atlanta for almost two years, he made the move to Atlanta to take his career to the next level. His career did just that, and his star continues to rise.
Savage, who is starring in Lifetime’s “Single Black Female,” is returning to his hometown for a special screening of the film. He sat down with The SUN to talk about his journey thus far, lessons he’s learned and what he hopes to do with his platform.
Savage moved permanently to Atlanta in September of 2013. By October, he had already been cast in his first major television show, “The Quad.” What started as a role as a stand-in transformed into so much more.
“As a stand-in, you’re not on the show necessarily,but you’re around everybody, so I said ‘this is pretty cool.’” he said. “My publicist at the time submitted me for an extra, and next thing you know they’re like ‘hey you look like Jay Ellis, so we want you to come in as a stand-in.’ At the time, I didn’t even know what a stand-in was — I learned being on set. I would get my scenes and sides and I would memorize them every time I would go on set. I remember this one stand-in saying, ‘I don’t know why you’re memorizing your sides; they’re never going to have second team actually do the scene.’ I said, ‘you never know… one day, maybe.’”
“About two months after that conversation, the director said, ‘we think we want to have second team go through this rehearsal.’” Savage continued. “Out of 10 of us, it was me and one other young lady, and she was ready. We went and we killed it. and that’s when they knew we were the serious ones. I tell people all the time — if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.”
Landing the role on “The Quad” was the shift that Savage needed to catapult him to the next level in his career. Once he unlocked the door with his talent on “The Quad,” work began pouring in. He went on to land roles in “Lovecraft Country,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Bigger”, “American Soul,” “Insecure,” “P-Valley” and more.
“I remember when I was on “P-Valley” — it was one of the craziest moments that kind of was surreal to me,” Savage recalled. “My boy dm’ed me and said congratulations. I opened it and saw that they were doing a casting for my stand-in. It came full circle, and it really took me back to when I first came to Atlanta, and I was Jay Ellis’ stand in. That was that moment that solidified everything. It was like ‘alright Kev, you’re really in this thing now… let’s get it.’”
Although Savage has had a great deal of success in the entertainment industry, those wins have not come without obstacles or their fair share of lessons.
“The biggest lesson for me is to never give up and to truly believe in yourself,” Savage said. “We hear that all the time it’s so much of a cliché, but it’s so true. No one is going to believe in you like you do. You’ve got to believe in yourself when nobody does, to the point where you’re making other people believe in you and they have to take a chance on you. If you go hard and campaign hard, they’re going to say this person is persistent, they’re consistent — let me jump on this bandwagon now, because this person is not going to stop.”
“I’ve experienced casting directors turning me down,” he added. “Now with those same casting directors, I’m getting auditions first because of my work. You almost have to create this alter ego and this attitude that ‘I’m going after it, no matter what.’”
“It hurts when you love something so much when you’re getting NO rejection[s] and you’re not hearing anything back, but you’re going to do two things when you experience failure,” Savage said. “You’re either going to allow it to take hold of you and say maybe it’s not for me, or you’re going to take it, learn from it, it’s going to make you stronger and you’re going to go even harder.”
Thankfully, Savage took the latter approach, and continues to shine brightly while creating his own lane in the industry. In his latest project, he plays Andre in Lifetime’s “Single Black Female.”
“This was the first in person audition I had after COVID, so I was excited,” Savage said. “I actually read for Devale Ellis’ role because that’s the role I auditioned for originally. I go in and they’re like ‘we like that, but let’s give you another role — Andre.’ They give me the sides and it’s like four pages long. I say ‘ok, I’m a trained actor — I can do this.’”
“As an actor, you’re not going to always have time to do character breakdowns and analysis,” he continued. “You have to be able to go in, understand your objective, understand what the story is saying and go in and kill it.”
“It took me three minutes,” Savage said. “They asked if I was ready — I say yes. I go in and I go ham. I threw the paper on the ground at the end and they’re just like ‘woah!’ and they started clapping. That audition process was fun. The director emailed my agent the same day, which rarely ever happens, saying ‘thank you for letting your talent come in.’ They told me to stand by, and about three days later I got the offer.”
Savage was given the freedom to take a different approach with a character named Andre,, who he describes as “a good guy who loses his way.”
“The reason I was able to do so well with Andre is because I’ve been in his shoes,” Savage said. “Andre gets into a little relationship debacle with Monica. He comes back like, ‘look babe, I messed up, but I’m back’– and she’s not trying to hear it. There’s something that happens that causes him to be even more adamant about going back to her and pleading his case.”
“I love the character of Andre, because so many times I get auditions for the leading man, the good-looking guy or the player and I kind of went in with a different route with this,” he added. “Even though on paper
Andre looks like this player, I didn’t want to play it like that.”
During Savage’s return to his hometown , he is partnering with two Philadelphia staples, Omega Optical and Fitler Club, for a special screening of “Single Black Female.” Tracy Davis of Omega Optical shared her enthusiasm for the collaboration.
“Omega Optical and the Kevin Savage Brand have a mutual vision of success, and we believe the best collaborations create something bigger than the sum of what each person can create on their own,” Davis said.
Savage is equally excited about returning home and hopes that his platform will inspire the masses.
“Just knowing how I started in Philly, doing the plays, and to see me where I am now is so dope,” he said. “To be able to reflect on what it took me to get to this level and to go even further… it means a lot. Philly is what made me so I’m excited to come back home.It’s not really so much about me. It’s really about coming back and being a mouthpiece to say if you have this dream — you can do it. Of course, there’s still a long way for me to go, but for me to be able to reach back and say, ‘let me help you’ is why I’m going back. That’s what my brand Savage Brand is all about… inspiration and motivation, lifestyle, fitness and entertainment. I want to inspire you to know that you can do the same thing or even better.”
Be sure to follow Kevin Savage on Instagram @KevinSavageBrand and on Facebook at Kevin Savage. He will be in Philadelphia for the “Single Black Female” screening at Fitler Club on February 5 from 7-11p.m. For more details and to RSVP, email [email protected].
Leave a Comment