EXCLUSIVE | 'The Upshaws' star Page Kennedy on loving Michael Jackson and why BLM still has 'a long way to go'
In an exclusive conversation with MEAWW, the actor and comedian gets candid about 'The Upshaws', perks of Netflix and his BLM-inspired album
Given the turmoil that the world is going through, TV shows often provide viewers with a brief moment of respite. Thanks to them, things don't seem too bad and people can relax at least momentarily. What better way to kick back and relax than to watch a series that is sure to leave you in splits. If you've been looking for something new to watch, 'The Upshaws' should definitely be on your list.
The story is about "A working-class Black family in Indiana strives for a better life and a happy home while juggling everyday struggles," and it is sure to leave you with a smile. MEAWW caught up with Page Kennedy who plays 'Duck' on the series. Here are the excerpts:
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'The Upshaws' focuses on a family struggling to make their lives better. What is your take on the show?
My take on the show is that it is a hilarious comedy that takes a look at a family from the Midwest. It’s not your typical garden variety family, but one that has more difficulty, based on the patriarch of the family, his impropriety and trying to better himself. But, that is a process, and we get to go through that process with him and a lot of hilarity ensues.
In the series, you are sharing the frame with legends Wanda Sykes and Mike Epps. How was your experience working with them?
They both are hilarious on and off-screen. They’re stand-up comedians and they are brilliant at what they do. So, their wit and timing are just ubiquitous, even in their real and personal life. Oddly enough, Wanda herself is kind of an introvert in real life. She is kind of quiet, but when she does make a joke off-camera, it's hilarious.
You have worked in films and TV shows extensively and you have a style of your own. Who inspired you to take up acting and why?
Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson inspired me to want to get into entertainment in general. As a kid, I have been a fan of Michael Jackson my entire life. I revere him, I love him. He did a movie called 'The Wiz', where he played the scarecrow. After I saw that, I was like, “Okay, I want to do that when I grow up. I want to make people feel like how you made me feel.”
Platforms such as Netflix and Hulu help take work across borders today. How does that work for you as an actor? What would you say are the pros and cons of releasing films on said platforms?
I think it’s great. Typically, if you’re on network TV or even cable TV, to a certain degree, are kind of in a box, so to speak. Unless you’re in the United States or watch CBS, then you might not even know that someone is on a particular show. But with the advent of Netflix, and the platform being worldwide, more people have access to you, from all over the world and are able to see your show. I think streaming services and Netflix have been very useful to us.
A con could be that there is so much content you could get lost in the sauce because people can become inumbrated with the preponderance of material available to them. But, in that, if your show is one of the popular shows, then you can get put right up there in the front, as soon as you turn on Netflix’s suggestions and trending. And, so many more people have the opportunity to see your show.
Any behind-the-scenes memory from 'The Upshaws' that you would like to share with our readers? Something that will stay with you forever?
On tape days, Mike comes and he brings his boombox radio and he plays all the old school jams, like that my parents used to listen to, and everybody gets to dancing. He really puts us in the mood to get ready to have showtime. And so, that’s always fun, when he does that on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
A lot has changed since 2020. First, it was the gripping BLM movement, and recently, the Derek Chauvin verdict. Would you call it a victory or do you think as people we could do a lot more?
Well, I think we still have a long way to go. I do feel like we have taken major strides forward and tried to rectify irreparable deeds, but we still have a long way to go. Luckily, we have the type of people who fight for justice and within that, more people, not of color, are starting to be bastions of the Black Lives Matter movement. That is where real change happens because they have the loudest voice.
What is Page Kennedy doing next? What kind of films and TV series are in store?
I have an important album out right now, it kinda is concomitant with the Black Lives Matter movement. It's called 'Page' and it chronicles Black plight as we know it in America right now. It comments on it, puts a mirror up to it. And, it is very supportive of Black men and women. It's something that everyone should listen to, it's on all streaming platforms. And yeah, I have a few things coming up. I'm writing a book and I'm going to do another movie soon.
You can check out the trailer for 'The Upshaws' here.
'The Upshaws' premieres on Netflix, on May 12, 2021.