Clifton Powell Graces Denver
Actor Clifton Powell was in Denver to shoot a new feature-length film, Diamond in the Rough. This inspirational drama is centered on the life of a homeless teenage student who must learn to trust those around her to change her life’s circumstances. Powell plays a pastor who helps the teen become a more positive person.
The Denver Metro area is currently facing a homelessness crisis as the number of individuals with no place to stay continues to be around 10,000. Producers of this film, K.I.M.P. (Keep It Moving Productions), hope not only to grow Denver’s economy by shooting the film locally but to also give back to the community, as a portion of the film’s profits will be donated to Aurora Warms the Night (AWTN), a local anti-homelessness advocacy group that provides temporary housing when temperatures reach below 20 degrees.
During some free time from the movie shooting, which includes scenes shot from Woodlands Park to the Five Points neighborhood, Powell took time to give fans some insight into the film and his life. Powell, who is very excited about the film, noted “I really think it’s a really touching movie. I read the script and really loved the direction of it.” Powell is a diverse actor having played characters in more than 100 different films but still often gets pegged as the bad guy due to some of his more prominent roles as the character we hate or fear like in Woman Thou Art Loose and Menace to Society. But Powell says, “People often say you’re always the bad guy; and I say just go on IMBD and look at my credits. I play a wide range of characters and that’s because I’m trained and can bring life to all of those characters.”
DUS had a chance to sit down with Powell and asked him about his career path.
Denver Urban Spectrum: You’ve been part of a couple legendary films. Do you know in the moment or is it realized afterwards the success of a film?
Clifton Powell: “You don’t really know if a film will be legendary. When you get a film, you read the script. When I read Menace to Society, I felt like it was going to be a special movie but until it all comes together, you really don’t know; also, how the public receives it. When we were doing Ray, I felt like Ray was going to be epic and it was because Jamie Fox was incredible. But the public really embraced the movie, not just the African American community. The general public loved Ray Charles and embraced that movie – making it epic and legendary. Dead Presidents was another movie I didn’t know when I read the script. Then I read [my character] Cutty and some of the other characters and some of the names attached. I felt like if the public took to it, it would become a classic.”
DUS: When reading scripts, do you ever pick roles that you think are important to portray?
CP: “When you study as a method actor the bottom line is always the same, try to find the truth in the character. So when I’m playing for instance Dr. King, I find the same truth in Dr. King that I found in Cutty. And when you’re playing a character like Dr. King, part of that is research, find out how he held his hands, getting his speech inclinations right.”
DUS: You’re from southeast D.C. which is often a reference point when people talk about struggling neighborhoods, urban decay, etc. Do you have any advice for others who would like to step out of the mold of their environment?
CP: “I think the first thing we have to do is get away from where we’re from – not so much whether you’re from uptown or downtown or northeast or southeast. Don’t let where you’re from hold you back. I had some great mentors and I had my sister who raised me and my nephew. I had some great teachers, workshop careers in the arts and I had great family members. All my teachers were instrumental in my upbringing. I had a surrogate big brother, Darryl Harvey. He and his mom helped raise me. My mom died when I was young. “And you have to have something inside of you that says no matter what neighborhood you are from or how bad it is, you have to want to transcend that and that’s what I did. “I think I’ve been blessed and I had good people around me but I made a decision early on that I wanted to do something with my life and knew exactly what it was.”