Exclusive Interview with The Get Down’s Skylan Brooks

headshotSkylan Brooks is a seventeen-year-old kid taking the world by storm. His first major role as Mister in The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete put many eyes on him, but his role as Ra-Ra Kipling on The Get Down has catapulted him into fame. The Los Angeles native recently chatted with TNWU about part 2 of Baz Lurhmann’s The Get Down.

What is your favorite trait of Ra-Ra?

His ability to de-escalate any situation he gets in. He is also very intelligent about how he speaks to every person. He has a tone for every person, and it is very visual you can defiantly tell it on his face, when the situation has drastically turned out of his favor or in his favor.

Your two most notable roles, Ra-Ra and Mister, are both very mature young men in the inner city. What draws you to roles like these?

I guess what draws me is that I am kind of like that myself. I can relate and attest to many of their struggles. I can especially relate to Mister because his life wasn’t exactly the best coming from the projects. Ra-Ra is more spiritual and intellectual and kind of a therapist for his friends and is even able to negotiate with his dad, and I can definitely relate to that part of his life. Those are the things I am. 

I can relate to Mister as well, having something you are striving for and wanting to obtain and wanting it so badly. He wants to survive and make it out of his surrounding, and not everyone’s surrounds are great or easy. We are very caring but at the same time have to be tough because of the places we are in.

Your rhymes are lightning fast. Is that a natural skill or did you have to practice that like crazy on set?

(laughs) My rhymes are lightning fast, yes, it’s actually a natural skill. I talk extremely fast to my mom and my dad and everyone around me. I talk very fast and what you see in the show is literally just me spitting at an even faster speed than I actually talk. On the show, I hit on it times two, and it would seem like am The Flash. But that’s pretty natural for me.

Grandmaster Flash and other legends were said to work closely on set to get the music just right. What was it like working with such icons?

Grandmaster Flash and the other legends like Curtis Blow, and African Banbata, who I have yet to meet, but I believe he was traveling the world. But those legends from that era as a kid I didn’t know too much about them. I’ve always heard about the founding fathers, but it wasn’t to the extent that I cared to understand it. But working with them and seeing them tell their stories and how invested they were in creating something that eventually changed the world.

Part one of the season left us with The Get Down Brothers all feeling connected and proud of themselves. Does this harmony continue in part two?

(laughs) I can’t exactly say we are all connected. Although that definitely is the whole concept of The Get Down Brothers, at this point in time. However, it is not necessary that we are connected, it is more that we are all on the same page. As for part two, I can’t really say. But I can tell you there will be an upset in the powers that be and in the balance of things.

Ra-Ra is the most levelheaded of The Get Down Brothers. Who do you think is the most levelheaded of the cast? And the goofiest?

(laughs) I am the most level-headed. The goofiest award has to go to me too, or maybe Justice; he is pretty goofy. I think it would have to be a race between Justice and I. We are literally like twin brothers, but we were born in a separate house. It is scary how much we crack up people on set. I think I am the most level-headed, but the goofiest could go to Justice or me.

The Get Down shows the importance and beauty of love and friendship between kids of color. Do you think this theme will spread to the mainstream and will it help foster more positive relationships?

Beauty and friendship between kids of color is extremely important, and it is shown in the show. I think it will spark a conversation.  I have already heard positive comments that people are excited and pointing out those things themselves. Not only kids of color but every ethnicity is embracing the idea of The Get Down, the idea to pursue your dream. Whoever tells you, you can’t do it, just forget it. 

It starts with you and what you want to do. I think it will foster more positive relationships. I know between Ra-Ra and Ezekiel their characters embody more of a brotherly type friendship. It’s kind of like best friends and what real best friends look like. This can give a catalyst for future years and for other kids, even adults.

You’re from LA. How was it heading to the east coast for filming?

Heading to the east coast was difficult (laughs). Let’s just say I wasn’t a fan of New York after the couple of months I had been there. The road rage was ridiculous. I am more of a relaxed person. I don’t like honking and cursing out each other on the freeway and getting out of cars. I wouldn’t even use a car, to be honest, but it was definitely hard. The transition was not an easy change.

Can you give us any hints on what we can expect from part two?

What you can expect from part two will be a lot of upset in the balance. Everyone is finding their place in part one. But in part two the cast will crumble a little bit. You will see the transformation of every character and their low points and less of the highs.

We are a site called Talk Nerdy With Us, so I have to ask, what makes you nerdy?

My voice makes me nerdy (laughs). The way I say things and how I say them is nerdy. I really am a nerd at heart. I play video games and everything.  My voice is definitely the nerdiest thing about me, but I think girls like it, surprisingly.

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