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Exclusive Interview with Degrassi: Next Class’ Richard Walters

 

unnamed-2Talk Nerdy With Us recently chatted with Canadian musician and actor Richard Walters. Richard is best known for roles on The Next Step, Rogue and Degrassi: The Next Generation. Come January 2016, fans can see Richard reprise his role as Tiny Bell in Netflix’s Degrassi: Next Class. Keep reading to find out what Richard’s plans are for 2016!

What came first for you, a love of acting or music?

Actually, it was a love of music. I remember at the age of five when I was watching an interview with Michael Jackson and ever since I just got hooked onto the whole idea of becoming a music artist and acting came along after.

How long have you been writing music?

I’ve been writing music since grade nine. Up until then it was just singing to my favorite songs like Michael Jackson or James Brown or even Prince. In grade nine is where I really started to write music. I took a course for poetry. I got into it in grade nine and it’s just developed since then.

Do you remember the first lyric that you wrote?

Yes, actually. It was from my first song called Speak, that’s actually out on SoundCloud right now. The whole idea was just based off of bullying and stuff like that because I had experienced that myself when I was younger in school. So did some of my friends, so I thought that was a good topic to have on the page and see if it can reach others and help them through whatever they’re going through. I would say Speak would be my first song that I made lyrics for.

You have eight songs now on SoundCloud, are you working on others?

I am working on four other songs that I’m planning on releasing in the new year. To go along with the promotion of Degrassi and everything, the whole hype that’s happening and every one’s buzzing about it, so I thought why not add to it and release my songs around that time? I have four songs that are going to be released. I’m really looking forward to showing people what I got.

Do you have plans to do release an EP or do you like the SoundCloud outlet?

I really like the SoundCloud outlet because it introduces me to other artists. First of all, it’s very easy to post songs on there and just get your stuff, get your work out there and let people see it. Also, like I was saying, I’m learning from others, because I can see other peoples’ work. SoundCloud recommends other artists that do what I do. I like learning from people who make myself better and vice versa, you know? It’s a very awesome outlet to use for progressing my music.

 Who is your favorite artist that you found from SoundCloud?

That’s a very good question! There’s a lot of people who I actually look up to right now. A good friend of mine, his name is Cassius, but he goes by Cas Cray and another one named King Duro, his name is Cray Hammond. They are two good friends of mine who do great music and I learn from them. I look up to those guys. They really inspire me to do what I do and continue going hard at it and making sure I get the right equipment to make it sound as professional as possible. 

How did you come up with the stage name Morpheus Richards?

Excellent question. It was actually in grade nine when I was trying to figure out what my look would be, what my name would be as an artist. I just looked up what cool names would be just on Google, just randomly. I came across Morpheus based off of Greek mythology. The Greek god Morpheus is actually the god of dreams and my parents always said I’m a big dreamer. I love to dream and love to go for my goals and stuff like that. I thought it was just cool, so I use Morpheus Richards and left Richard Walters as my normal name in regards to acting and stuff like that.

Let’s talk about acting a bit. Tell me about your audition process for Degrassi.

It was about a year and a half, possibly two years of going through nearly seven auditions before I got Tiny. It was a journey. It was an uphill battle for sure, because there would be auditions where I would get extremely close. It’d be down to me and some other person and the other person would get it. It was definitely taking a toll on my self-esteem, stuff like that, in regards to okay am I finally going to get something? I finally went full throttle and Tiny came out and I heard the description, what they were looking for. I said okay, let me just try to go as hard as I can for this role and I was fortunate enough to get it.

Do you know how they chose the name Tiny?

Honestly, from what I remember in the description, Tiny was supposed to be a taller, bigger kind of guy, you know? (Laughs). I guess it was like a joke that the biggest person that they know would be considered as “Tiny”. I think it was just a cool little nickname that just became his name. His actual name is Dion Bell, but they just went on with Tiny.

Had you watched Degrassi prior auditioning?

Yes, I have. The main purpose was that because I was going for so many auditions, I wanted to really educate myself on what they were looking for. How stylized they were and really try to get into the feeling of what they were looking for. I was always interested in the stories Degrassi told because it reflected a lot of what I went through and teenagers in general at the time were going through. So it was very relatable. That’s what gravitated me towards the show in the first place, but after I started going for auditions, I really started to get invested. I looked into characters like Eli and really started to see what it was like and get into the groove of things.

What was the first episode of Degrassi that you saw?

Let’s see. That’s a good one. That was a while back. I think … Honestly, it’s pretty hard to say. There was so many I watched before and I can’t really recall. It was definitely an episode during season 12.

Next Class premiers very soon! What can you tell us about Tiny’s storyline? 

Tiny is definitely getting the bigger push this season. A relationship is hopefully coming his way. A lot of sparks have been going on between him and Shay right now. It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of journey Tiny goes on. It’s going to be a journey for sure, that I can promise you. Just be ready to be entertained, to see things very unexpected from Tiny that we haven’t seen yet, because we’re going to really see what he’s like and see what his personality is like, especially with Shay. We will see the softer side of Tiny. That I can definitely promise you.

You were introduced during Next Generation, so you’re not a new character anymore. What was it like doing Next Class and having another group of new actors join the show?

Oh man, it was very very weird at first, because as you mentioned, when I started with the Next Generation, it was me looking up to people like Luke, Aislinn, Munro and all those guys, and all the sudden it was a complete switch. It was like the new people were coming in and looking up to us, like me and Ricardo and Ana and all those great people in the cast. It was overwhelming awesome in a sense because… First of all, there’s big shoes that we have to fill. We have that responsibility now that we’re the leaders and we have to set the example and try to do our best to present the show the best way that we can. I was looking forward to it. When we were in the moment, like when you realize that you’re at that moment, at that particular standard in the cast, it’s just really overwhelming. In a good sense. Like you have that responsibility and you’re able to teach others and stuff like that.

When did you find out that Tiny’s storyline would continue and that you would be a part of Next Class?

A month or so before we actually started shooting. I got an email from Iain, one of the people that we work with on the show. He’s a great guy. He mentioned that Degrassi: Next Class was coming up. We were going to keep going. We were going to try to rebrand the show. Kind of make it new, but still make it the same. I was just jumping for joy at the time and ironically I was just in the randomest of places when I found the email. I was just on the street car and I was making a lot of noises. People were looking at me funny, but it was a great feeling that I was going to be part of such an amazing journey. (Laughs). Degrassi is an amazing show, in a sense. I was really really looking forward to how people are going to take it when it premieres.

In what way(s) is Next Class different? 

The school as a whole, you can even look back at some of the photos that are online and stuff like that from the previous seasons. You can see they really rebranded the school, kind of made it a little bit different, you know what I mean? They really tried to rebrand the show in a sense, but then it’s still deep. That’s what makes Degrassi great in a sense. The new stuff will definitely be from the characters, obviously, and the school, as I mentioned. The storyline is a bit darker and a bit more edgier. Also, you really get to see the personal … Like you really get into the characters, since there are fewer cast members than last year, so you really get to go in-depth with the characters and start to really get a good idea of where they’re coming from, who they are, what they stand for, and all that jazz.

Have you seen any of the episodes already?

No I haven’t yet. The only thing I’ve seen so far is the trailers.

What episode or storyline are you most excited for people to see?

I’m definitely looking forward to, from what I’m seeing in the trailers, I’m looking forward to seeing how Miles and the whole Tristan thing turns out. Miles has gone through a roller coaster of emotions and problems. And the whole Maya and Zig thing about their relationship and choosing a career over relationships which is a very very realistic thing that people have to deal with, you know? So I’m looking forward to those things.

What’s something that your fans don’t know about you yet, but they will after they read this interview?

I’m pretty much like a kid in a teen’s body. (Laughs). I still enjoy the kid side of stuff, you know what I mean? I still watch cartoons. I still love going to amusement parks. Doing the kid stuff. I love not having to grow up in a sense. Like if I could go to Neverland, I would for sure. Live it out as a kid again and have fun. I truly enjoy that and yeah, that’s pretty much something that I haven’t mentioned already that fans don’t know about me.

You just made it to the finals for the Landmark Event Showcase. Congrats! Can you tell us any details about that? When are the finals?

The finals are on January 16th. It’s just right after our Ecuador trip that we have. I have a good amount of days to prep for it. All the songs that I’m doing are completely original, all the songs that I’ve written, and I am planning to do my new songs there. That’s when they’re first going to be presented to the people, at the finals. Also, the songs that are currently on my SoundCloud page. I’m really, really looking forward to it. Ironically, the only reason how I even found out about Landmark was because of Ehren AKA Jonah on the show as well as Eric AKA Miles on the show. They have a band called Eleanor Shore. They performed here last year and I found out about it and I wanted to do it myself, since we’re all interested in music. Yeah, so the finals are coming up. It’s going to be at the Mod Club. Virgin Mod Club. I’m stoked for it. I’m really, really excited. The crowd before was amazing, so considering this is going to be the finals, I’m sure it’s going to be even better.

Do you have any plans to do a little collaboration with Eleanor Shore?

You know anything is possible. I wouldn’t mind it, you know what I mean? We actually had some talks about that before when I was at one of their performances. We just happened to talk about it and stuff like that, because I personally liked their new demos. I actually went to one of their shows the other day, and I heard some of their new demos and stuff that really, really intrigued me. So you never know. Anything is possible. I wouldn’t write it off. I’ll definitely consider it if they’re willing to.

2015 was a pretty big year for you. Degrassi and then you played your first live concert with your own songs, so what’s coming up in 2016?

Wow, well 2016 is going to be just even better. Even more music coming out. Hopefully bigger things with Tiny on the show and really trying to promote myself, trying to really get out there and stuff like that. My Twitter account is starting to blow up ever since the whole premiere talk has been coming around, the buzz and the hype of the show. If anything, I see it as bigger and better. Pretty much somewhat similar to what is happening in 2015. Just the sky’s the limit. I’m just soaring and trying to get myself out there and see how it turns out.

Speaking of Twitter, you also mentioned that you were going to make an Instagram. Did you end up making one? 

I was definitely tempted to it and then I forgot what the reason was, but I don’t have an Instagram account. (Laughs). I plan to make one in 2016, because there’s been a lot of people requesting me getting … “Get an instagram! Get it together!” I definitely have to get on top of that.

When Degrassi Next Generation was on, you guys were really involved in live tweeting and interacting with the fans, but since it’s going to be on Netflix and I think they’re releasing it all at once, right? So how do you plan on live tweeting or interacting with the fans now?

Excellent question. Since Family Channel mentioned that it’s going to be airing there first, I’m going to take advantage of that for sure and try to at least keep up with that one, because it’s a couple of episodes ahead before the next episode comes out. I’ll definitely try to take advantage of that as quickly as I can, because we all know the fans just love the show so much, they’re going to blow through all ten episodes with ease. I’m going to try my best not to spoil anything, but at the same time build the hype as I should and try my best to just keep on top of things and keep ahead of things.

Excluding Degrassi, what is your favorite show on Netflix?

Breaking Bad. My friends got me into that and I got hooked immediately. The acting, the storyline, everything about the show is awesome.

What’s the last song you listened to?

It would be Cry by Michael Jackson, his Invincible album.

What’s the last movie you saw?

Goodfellows, starring Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro.

Last TV show you watched?

The Three Stooges.

Last play you saw?

The musical Thirteen. My old theater group called CYP, City of Youth Players in Vaughn, Ontario put on a performance.

And that was the play you were in, right?

Yeah!

Do you have a preference between theater or TV work?

You know, I’ve always been debating that, but at the end of the day, because it’s my first love, I’ll definitely say community musical theater. If anything, the deciding factor is the audience. I love feeding off of the audience and getting that feeling from them when you’re performing. There’s nothing like it. Even though I have a strong love for when I was behind the cameras as well, it’s just the feeling that you get from an audience, especially when you do everything right and they respond and then feed back to you. There’s just no feeling like it.

Our web site is called Talk Nerdy With Us, what do you nerd out about? What makes you a nerd?

I would say super hero stuff like Marvel. I’m a huge nerd with that, definitely.

Who is your favorite Marvel hero and villain?

My favorite Marvel hero is definitely Wolverine. I’ve always loved him since I was young and everything, even for Halloween I would dress up as him. And villain, well that’s excellent. That is tough. Man, there’s so many of them. They’re all good. Let’s say Apocalypse, because he’s just so epic and he’s just so strong. No one can challenge him. 

nt is starting to blow up ever since the whole premiere talk has been coming around, the buzz and the hype of the show. If anything, I see it as bigger and better. You know what I mean? Pretty much somewhat similar to what is happening in 2015. Just the sky’s the limit. I’m just soaring and trying to get myself out there and see how it turns out.

Speaking of Twitter, you also mentioned that you were going to make an Instagram. Did you end up making one? 

I was definitely tempted to it and then I forgot what the reason was, but I don’t have an Instagram account. I plan to in 2016 and get that together, because there’s been a lot of people requesting me getting … “Get an instagram! Get it together!” Definitely have to get on top of that.

When Degrassi Next Generation was on, you guys were really involved in live tweeting and interacting with the fans, but since it’s going to be on Netflix and I think they’re releasing it all at once, right? So how do you plan on live tweeting or interacting with the fans now?

Excellent question. Right now I’m actually, since Family Channel mentioned that it’s going to be airing there first, I’m going to take advantage of that for sure and try to at least keep up with that one, because it’s a couple of episodes ahead before the next episode comes out. I’ll definitely try to take advantage of that as quickly as I can, because we all know the fans just love the show so much, they’re going to blow through all ten episodes with ease. I’m going to try my best not to spoil anything, but at the same time build the hype as I should and try my best to just keep on top of things and keep ahead of things.

Excluding Degrassi, what is your favorite show on Netflix?

Breaking Bad. My friends got me into that and I got hooked immediately. The acting, the storyline, everything about the show is awesome and yeah, I’d definitely say Breaking Bad is my favorite.

What’s the last song you listened to?

It would be Cry by Michael Jackson, his Invincible album.

What’s the last movie you saw?

Goodfellows, starring Joe Pesci and Robert De Nero.

Last TV show you watched?

The Three Stooges.

Last play you saw?

The musical Thirteen. My old theater group called CYP, City of Youth Players in Vaughn, Ontario put on a performance.

And that was the play you were in, right?

Yeah!

Do you have a preference between theater or TV work?

You know, I’ve always been debating that, but at the end of the day, because it’s my first love, I’ll definitely say my community musical theater and if anything, the deciding factor is the audience. I love feeding off of the audience and getting that feeling from them when you’re performing. There’s nothing like it. Even though I have a strong love for when I was behind the cameras as well, it’s just the feeling that you get from an audience, especially when you do everything right and they respond and then feed back to you, it’s just no feeling like it.

Our web site is called Talk Nerdy With Us, what do you nerd out about? What makes you a nerd?

I would say super hero stuff like Marvel and stuff like that. I’m a huge nerd with that, definitely.

Who is your favorite Marvel hero and villain?

My favorite Marvel hero is definitely Wolverine. I’ve always loved him since I was young and everything, even for Halloween I would dress up as him. And villain, well that’s excellent. That is tough. Man, there’s so many of them. They’re all good. Let’s say Apocalypse, because he’s just so epic and he’s just so strong and stuff like that and no one can challenge him. I’d say Apocalypse is my favorite.

 

Follow Richard on Twitter and SoundCloud.

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