Power IV Star Isaac Keys Shares The Importance of Pivoting When The Inevitable Happens
Pivotttttt! I’m not quite sure if you’re a Friends fan, but there is an episode where Ross is telling Rachel and Chandler to pivot the sofa as they take it up the stairs. And though this scene was hilarious, our souls too tell us to pivot at times. The changes in life are inevitable but what you do to continue to press forward in the change is completely up to you. The best thing to do is to pivot. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s new a career field. Maybe it’s relocation. Whatever the case may be, you will be presented with an opportunity to pivot for the better so that changes in life don’t break you.
And though a pivot may seem like a breaking, it can actually prove to be quite beneficial. We see it with many celebrities we admire. Take a look at Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, John Cena, Terry Crews, and even Isaac Keys. Yes, the actor from Power IV: Force was an athlete. And he knows a thing or two about pivoting, the hardships thereof, the discipline, and the reward. And I had the privilege of speaking with him to learn more about his journey and what he has to say to those who are afraid to make that pivot.
Check out the interview below.
I’m stoked to be speaking with Isaac Keys. Many know you as an actor, but some may not be aware that you’re a football player. And to not insult anyone, some may not know that you’re an actor or be aware of all that you have done. So for those who do not know who you are, go ahead and drop some information about yourself; hype yourself up.
Wow. Okay. We’ll put me on my stage, then. I love it. I’m Isaac keys, aka Diamond Simpson on Power IV: Force. As you said, yes, I started my career, I guess, in the public playing football in the national football league of Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, and Arizona Cardinals. And then from there, it was all about the transition, about the pivot in life. It was hard, you know, understanding that I wanted to continue to play football, but football wasn’t trying to play with me anymore. So therefore I had to find something else. And I think a lot of people could resonate with that, for us just having to pivot in life. And that was my transition. I left football and pretty much started completely over and did not know exactly what I wanted to do. I had to try to find my passion. That’s one thing that I think people can’t really grasp. The fact of trying to find your passion is hard to do. So. Yeah. Luckily after some trial and error, I found my passion, the actor, and from there people thought I was crazy. It’s like, how are you gonna leave? You know, you’re leaving football and going to something as unsustainable as that, acting. But I don’t know, but something drew me to it and I’ve always been an underdog. So I’ve always wanted to try. But I always had to fight to get what I wanted. But I just worked my way up to acting. It wasn’t an overnight success. It was 14 years of doing odd jobs just to fund the dream.
So you didn’t have a background in acting at all. What, caused you to say, you know what, let me just go ahead and try this one out. Like that is a very weird leap. What caused that inspiration, especially because you were trying to find that passion?
I, I don’t know. Someone once asked me, “maybe you took so many hits in the head playing football, why do you choose acting? And you know, I was always striving in football to be the best to possibly be in that, in that game. It wasn’t always given to me the way I felt like it should be. Um, so through that process though, I had a friend who was a publicist; a guy who went to college with me. And he asked to be my publicist. I’m like, what do I need a publicist for? Why do I need that? I didn’t know what a publicist actually does at that time. But he took me under his wing. He had me in different rooms and those different rooms enlightened me. It was like being around other actors, being around others in entertainment careers. And it sparked something in me. I did a panel at the Essence Festival with Lance Gross and Lamman Rucker, and talking to them and seeing how their passion was for acting, just kind of sparked something in me. They put me in front of the camera later on for something and somebody was like, you know, you seem very comfortable in front of the camera. I said, well, I thought everybody was, they’re like, no, they’re not. They’re really not. I was like, wow. Okay. So it sparked something. I took one acting class in high school and that was just an elective. That’s all, you know, just to take something. It was to get out of all the other classes. Yeah. I never knew I was gonna be an actor. So for me to be drawn to it, it’s just as crazy as you kind of perceive it. It was one of those things. But you know, now I’m in it. It’s like, it’s become like a therapy. Acting has been therapy for me. It’s allowed so many different parts of me to open up. It’s allowed me to really accept and use the things I’ve suppressed before in life, all of the traumas things that I’ve dealt with. Acting allowed me to release those things and just kind of used them for characters.
I’m happy you mentioned that because, in a lot of education systems, they are trying to take away the arts, but as you mentioned, it is therapy. So how influential would you say it would be for a child to at least just do it as an elective? How influential do you think it would be for their lives and impact their lives and how they get through life?
I think it’d be very influential. I think it’s a way that it’s like, you know, we walk through life trying to be somebody that necessarily may not be true to our authentic self. We want to fit in. We want to make sure that we are judged appropriately or received appropriately by other people, to society norms. Yeah. And I think acting gives you a safe place. It’s kinda like therapy in a sense. Both should be safe places. Once you go into an acting class and finally open to the class, you let go of your inhibitions. You let go of caring how the world perceives you. In acting classes they do different things like the “get silly” and “get silly” is basically where you move your body in any way, a form that comes to you and make any noise that you want. Now normally if I’m around my boys and I do something like that, they’re going to look at me as crazy. Like, what are you doing?! You know what I mean? Because that’s the norm. But in acting, you can be whatever animal comes to mind. If you really let go, then you’re really going be into that; that animal. And that’s what acting class is. It’s letting go of all the things that hold you back. It’s letting all the things that you feel put you in parameters, in a box. It allows you to be free. To be yourself. And I think once we do that, then now you are your true self. And when you find that, then it helps you find and start working on your purpose.
That’s good. And because you said you only took it as an elective, going into this industry, were you encouraged to take more classes? So that when you did hit the scene you were equipped for it. Was that something that they encouraged you to do? Or did you just do it on your own?
Oh, I knew it. It’s kinda like football. Like you’re not just gonna go out there and just be good at it. You know what I mean? So there are a lot of things. You can have some talent. But I took classes. I came out here to LA. I started completely over. I was couch surfing. I was on my cousin’s couch. I let go of my house in Phoenix. And I knew I had to learn. I had respect for the craft. I had respect for the people going out there. And I wasn’t good going into it; it was all new to me. But I stuck with it. And with me sticking with it, I just started to learn more about myself. But I also started to learn more about the craft. I learned how to get into this, you know, auditioning. What do you necessarily need to have? And the audition process is hell. Like it’s really taxing for as you getting some lines and trying to learn them in a couple of days, and then going to a room with all these other different variables going on at the same time. Then there are you trying to focus and be in this scene with someone that may read the lines the way you thought they should be read or not, or you may not even be able to hear. They may not be matching your energy and you still have to build and deliver on your side. It’s been over 14 years of going to these classes and going to auditions and not being good in all of them. Like people thinking, oh, well, you know, you’re actor, you’re good. But no, every day is not a good day. You know, you just gotta, and you gotta release it. Throw the sides when it’s over with. Throw the sides of the script that you have in the trash can and move on.
14 years is a long time. That takes discipline. So what are some ways that you stay disciplined, that you stay encouraged, that you keep moving? Because I tell people that discipline takes you places that motivation can’t because motivation is gonna just disappear eventually. But to constantly do it, is a discipline. So what was one way that you built that discipline?
I think discipline was kind of instilled in me as a kid. Just my upbringing and I think I always had this kind of underdog aspect of just wanting more for myself. My dad would always tell me if you’re going to work at a fast-food restaurant, be the best worker there. Whatever you do, be the best you possibly can be. And I think that helped. And like you said, motivation like you’re not always gonna want to do something. I’m not always gonna want to get up and study for an audition. Sometimes the roles I am going for I don’t like all the time and don’t want to work on them. But the discipline side of me knows that if I do it, I may gain a fan in that casting room. The role might not be right for me. But if I gain a fan, that means that the casting director is gonna bring me in for other things. I like to give the background because I don’t want anyone to think that things are easy or the process. You have to trust the process, but you have to go through the process. You have to go through it. It’s not like I just woke up and all of a sudden you see on Power Book IV: Force. It seems like it because this is the first time some people have seen me but there’s been work going into this. It’s not gonna be easy, but it’s also obtainable. It’s definitely possible. It’s just, how long are you willing to just keep on trying.
You mentioned that before acting, there were so many things that you were trying out during your pivot. What were some of those things that you tried?
Uh, I was leaving football and I was literally starting over. My finances were not there. My mental capacity at the time wasn’t, you know, there. I was going through it. I put everything into football trying; to make it in that aspect. So I tried personal training, cause it was kinda easy. I was always working out anyway. So okay. Now let me see if I can help other people train. But that didn’t work. Then I did some marketing for Hennessy or something like that for a minute. Then I came to LA and I was like, oh I need a job. I worked in a group home, a children’s group home. I’ve always liked to be around the youth. But I’m working at a group home with troubled kids. I was like, I’ll work the night shift because they’ll be sleeping. I thought it would be great because I can work at night and do auditions in the daytime. But man, it was some stories. Some of the kids wake up in the middle of the night. They are like walking dead. Ok, you know, just go back to bed. They were all experiences. And I think when it comes to acting it is the life experiences that we pull from to put into these characters. I was a security guard and the next thing I know I was a security guard in Jurassic World. I was a security guard in a commercial. So it’s like these different things that I’ve actually been in reality that I’ve been able to pull and use for acting. And I think that’s what makes an actor be able to step their game up and level up on certain things because of those experiences.
Yeah absolutely. What is something like a motto or quote that you live by that keeps you going? There are many complexities in the arts and entertainment industry. So what keeps you going? What is that motto or quote?
The grind doesn’t stop, it just changes. And I say that again, “the grind doesn’t stop, it just changes” because we are always working to obtain something. We’re always trying to reach that next level. And once you get there, it’s just gonna change into something else. Leaving football was one grind. Then it changed to the next grind. It was acting. But what’s next? Directing? Do I wanna start producing? The grind doesn’t stop. It just changes.
What is one thing that you would tell someone who’s afraid to pivot? Because like you said, you put your all into football. So to that person who has exhausted so much into one field, into one aspect of their life, but it’s time to pivot, what would you say to them?
I would say give themselves grace. I would say, celebrate what you have already been able to experience. Life is a journey. So understand. Rock with that journey. Let’s remove the word afraid or fear. And let’s just go into accepting a new challenge. If you’re not growing, then you’re dying. Just continue to give yourself grace, but continue to want to grow. Continue to want to be the best person that you possibly can be in this world. And I think there is joy in pivoting. There’s success in pivoting. There are so many things around the corner. There are learning experiences around the corner. Live for the excitement, I would say as well.
Thank you for that. How can people connect with you? Where can they follow you on social media?
Thank you. I feel like I’ve always had something to say and I like to inspire, so if you want to follow me, it’s real simple; everything is Isaac Keys on social media.
Be sure to stay connected with the Isaac Keys and learn more about what he’s up to!