By Ira Hobbs
We had the pleasure of talking to actor and musician, Keiynan Lonsdale, about what he’s been up to. Even though the actor has been fairly busy playing the first-ever black Wally West, aka Kid Flash on The CW’s The Flash, he’s managed to get in other acting work while on the show, as well as work on his pursuits in other creative fields too. We know that the first way most of us get to know anyone is by stalking their timeline – and with Keiynan it was no different. But instead of having to read between the lines and figure what his tweets meant for ourselves, we asked him instead.
The first thing I notice, off rip, is his bio. There are no titles to describe his status in life. There are no defining declarations. There is only a single emoji – the wilted flower. My Tumblr senses were tingling. And so I had to ask.
What is this about? Explain this to me.
“Well, it’s a new emoji that only came out recently. I love it because I’ve just been really into the idea of something that’s beautiful and soft, but also kind of dangerous, or in pain. That kind of aesthetic pleases me. I think I often don’t know what to write in bios. But when that rose appeared, I was like, ‘oh yeah, that’s the one.'”
There’s a tweet about the growing pop sensation Jon Bellion next, so I decide to flip the script.
What is Wally West’s (his character) most played song on Apple Music?
“Probably the new Future album. I just played it for the first time yesterday.”
Keiynan doesn’t know what Wally’s favorite track is yet, but says his is “Selfish” featuring Rihanna. So he is clearly a man of taste.
The next tweet is a quoted retweet. A crying face, heart eyes emoji combo above a brand-new Wally West action figure hitting shelves for young The Flash fans to get their pretend on, which is pretty legit.
Photo: The CW
So I assume you’re happy with it?
“I am! I didn’t know that I was getting one, or that one was being made. I was kind of hoping that would be the case. So when someone tweeted me with it, I was just over the moon. It’s such a cool, surreal experience.”
What was your favorite action figure as a kid? Did you have action figures?
“I sure I did. I was obsessed with Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z. I didn’t grow up reading comics, to be honest. I started reading the Flash comics when I was auditioning. For me, it was Dragon Ball Z for sure. And Pokemon cards.”
Photo: Nikko LaMere
I assured him that these were both very respectable categories of collectible items for a nerd like myself. And then, as I kept scrolling, the most amazing thing happened.
So, your barber is a rapper? Is he your regular barber, or was this a one-time barber experience?
“*laughs*. So basically, I have a barber who cuts my hair, strictly for Flash, in Vancouver for each episode. I used to go to his shop when he worked at the shop. Now he has his own business. And a couple weeks back he was like ‘oh, I put up a new song on Soundcloud’ and I was like, ‘Cool man.’ And then I listened to it, and it was so dope. So I had to tweet about it.”
If you want to hear the song, you’re in luck. Check it out. Also, after subsequently stalking Emily Oberg after listening to this song on repeat like three times, it seems like she gave my boy no love for this. Tweet her the link if you like it, it’s the least you can do for Keiynan’s barber, you feel?
And his barber isn’t the only one dropping hits.
So you’re putting out new original music in March?
“Yeah, that’s the plan. We’re aiming for the end of March, but sometimes, logistically, things take longer than you expect so we’re just working out a lot of the kinks. But it’s super exciting. We’re editing the music video next week. Making sure it’s right is the main priority.”
I know you don’t want to give too much away. But in a few words, what’s the vibe of Keiynan Lonsdale music?
“I grew up listening to a lot of Michael Jackson pop, so that’s always going to be a heavy influence, but I also love R&B. I dropped an EP, independently, a year and a half ago and it was just super dark. I guess you could call it alternative-R&B. I think there are still influences from that, because that’s what I enjoy writing. But also, I’ve been able to work with some really talented people and we’ve just been able to form a sound.”
Photo: Nikko LaMere
Does the impact that you’re playing Wally West as a person of color ever really hit you? Or are you just doing the work?
“It’s both. Yeah, I am doing the work, but at the same time, it’s difficult not to recognize the impact that it does have. When I get to meet people and they express to me how inspired they are and that it makes them feel like they can do anything – that is huge. And it’s so important, that’s what this whole thing is about. I’m glad that I get to be part of a show that presents that to their audience.”
Keiynan’s pinned tweet is in support of transgender kids, which was so powerful to me.
Talk to me about your relationship with the trans community and sexual identity.
It’s new for me. It’s something I’m trying to educate myself on. We need to be fighting for people’s rights to be who they are, and to be treated equally, and to feel safe. That’s the main thing. I can’t speak on behalf of anyone, I just wanted to let my followers know, for any of them that may be trans, that Kid Flash thinks you’re cool. And that I respect you and appreciate you just as much as I would anyone. Just hoping that something that simple could have some sort of positive affect on anyone who feels a little let down by society.
The Flash airs on The CW every Tuesday at 8 pm EST.