McKinley Freeman, is an actor and producer, known for ‘End of Watch’,’Greencard Warriors’, and most recently his VH1 show, ‘Hit the Floor’. A Chicago native, McKinley played basketball while obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. Freeman said he fell into acting and has never looked back. Now fans can see him on the new season of ‘Hit the Floor,’ the shamelessly addicting hit show filled with shocking betrayals, confrontations, drama, shocking twists, and crazy feuds.
How did you get started in acting?
My first acting thing was playing the scarecrow in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in third grade. The construction was super expensive we used construction paper as straw [laughs]. Well as an adult I was modeling and minding my own business and was working. I have my degree in finance but I was getting bored. My agent at the time said ‘All My Children’ was in town looking for a new guy to put on the show and he said I should go. I thought the last thing I wanted to do was be an actor and move to California. So, I said no. [laughs]. He convinced me and I went. As time went on, it turned into something. I did a bunch of screen tests for shows and I ended up having to make a decision, do I stay with corporate America? Or do I go towards this thing that had been whispering to me my entire life? I decided to go for it.
You have steadily worked on television from cameos to cameo. Is that hard as an actor to change or fun to play different roles?
Its interesting. It is like anything else. It evolves as you get more information. When you first start working and you book your first job you are like this is amazing. That is the icing on the cake when you book the job. When you are on set you are working. The hard work is the time in-between jobs. When you resolve to a point you recognize for a season you might be walking up a hill. It’s hard enough to walk up a hill, but you have to remember that this is one step to the top. It gives you the grace to allow yourself to be human and be there. From an acting perspective for me, every job I get is the acting job of a lifetime whether its hard when you are there and things happen, you just have to stick with it. I think you have to boil it down to the steps you can control. It is hard to be on a set when everyone is familiar, but it is hard to be an Olympian or to skydive or jump off a building? That is hard too, but the only way you develop those muscles so it isn’t as hard is to go about your business. It’s an evolution and over time opportunities change. The dedication stays the same and the work stays the same. Our job is to control the process.
Is is crazy for you to look back over your career and see some of the great talent you have already worked with so early on? — I mean being on ‘Days of our Lives’ alone makes you apart of television history forever.
[laughs]. In terms of all the crazy stuff, not really. At the moment in time, I was very fortunate to spend some time with some very talented people. But I don’t spend much time about things that have already happen but I say that from a humble perspective. It is important to remember the past and where you came from. The best part is that you can look back when you are frustrated as an actor to reflect and remember you have been through this before and look at what you have accomplished. But, like for example when I played basketball I didn’t think about games we already played or what I scored. It’s something I think is cool and I get to remember. It’s an honor to be apart of television history. I mean I remember when there wasn’t that many channels and its huge and it influences society so to be apart of that is magical, but to spend a bunch of time worrying about the past when I could be worrying about being a better actor is more important.
Lets discuss ‘Hit the Floor,’ this show has taken off like crazy. You play Derek Roman and man there is some serious drama. How did you land the role and what made you want to play this character?
This was just a regular audition. I went in to audition in January and they didn’t call me back for a couple of weeks. I booked a role on another show in-between those times and I was waiting to see if that got picked up. So, while I was waiting I got the call from ‘Hit the Floor’ that they wanted me to come back in. I was auditioning for a different character and then one of the producers wanted me to read for a different character. So, I just ran back in to look at it really quick. I went off book and just went for it and was just me and for whatever reason it seemed to work. We had a table read and it went amazing and as the seasons went on we have a very loyal and dedicated fan base. I think this time we will have a new audience. The word has gotten out. So I am excited for both. I am excited for the fans that have been married to the show waiting for it to come back on and its also exciting to bring a new audience to let them see what we have been working on.
I know, it took a serious hiatus. What can fans expect now that its coming back?
I know, it doesn’t normally take that long to come back on! But, I think fans can expect a quality television show. I think the cast and the talent working behind the camera has come together to create something that is just really cool. As far as story-wise, there is lots of drama of course. Our writers are so good at surprising the hell out of the viewers, including us. It happens every time we get these scripts. It’s going to be really cool.
Fans have been waiting since August of 2014 for this show to come back on. Have any juicy details for us?
I am so excited for the fans! They did a screening for the first two episodes and I was blown away. It has been so long and I forgot what we did and it was really cool to see it all come together. Knowing where the season goes is just going to be great. I am so excited to see everyone’s responses. I think this is the most excited I have been for any of the seasons. I can’t give away anything really. I can say this season is about power, drama, and sex. It’s going to be about all of those things combine together woven into a story that is just [laughs] I can’t even tell you. There are just so many twists and turns. Its going to be so good. There is so much to look forward to.
In addition to your hit show, you have been super busy with a couple other projects, ‘The Best Thanksgiving Ever,’ ‘Relationship Status,’ and ‘Illicit.’ Anything you can say about those?
Yes, that is all true. I also produced a television show called ‘Patriots’ that is another one in there. It’s super smart and it’s set in the world of student government and its like ‘Parks and Recreation’ meets ‘Glee’. It’s super funny and we are really excited about that. ‘Illicit,’ is an erotic thriller where there are two married couples involved somewhat in an affair. Can you really have everything without losing it all? That was really fun because it was one of my first experiences sitting in as a producer and sitting in on casting and making those bigger decisions. The cast is amazing. I am really excited about that. I play Lance, a photographer, who one of the wives is having an affair with. It’s the art of seduction. The performances and the way the cast came together when we shot it I am really excited to see what people think about it. We are trying to be smart about how we share information about it, but it will be released this year and it should be good.
Anything you want to say to the fans that have been following your career?
Thank you for your support. Without you guys there would be no point in me doing interviews, being apart of social media, and all of that. So thank you for seeing something on the big or small screen and seeing something that made you interested enough to follow me or my career. I don’t take that type of stuff lightly or for granted. As far as the show goes, finally! I am glad that fans are going to get to see the show. So, this is going to be great. So, thank you so much.