Interview – Chad L. Coleman

Rather than flare in and out like some actors in film, Chad L. Coleman has burnt a steady flame well over two decades now. Earning attention for his role in the hit HBO series The Wire, Coleman would go onto a list of big roles including in AMC’s The Walking Dead as Tyreese for three intense seasons. Also, in a list of other feature films, as well as well-known series such as The Orville, and more presently, The CW’s Superman & Lois, Coleman is a unique, diverse talent.

Humble and eager to continue challenging himself in both film and television, he recently took on a role in the new Horror film The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster. Reaching theaters exclusively on June 9th, as well as On Demand and On Digital as of June 23rd, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is a compelling story that melds real life horror with fantastical elements. Excited about the project, Chad L. Coleman took some time to chat about it, his work as an actor, life lessons, plus much more. 

Cryptic Rock – You have been acting professionally for a long span of time now. Involved in a lot of interesting projects, both in film and television, how would you describe your journey as an actor to this point?

Chad L. Coleman – I would describe my journey as the blue-collar route. (Laughs) It’s the hard hat, lunch pale, put your head down, keep working hard, and staying true to your dreams route. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but filled with a lot of exciting experiences that I didn’t see coming.

To perform for the then President Obama, to be involved in classic television shows like The Wire and The Walking Dead… I didn’t see those things coming. To be able to go overseas and work, to have fans all over the world; it’s been a heck of a journey and I’ve been very fortunate! I still have a child-like feel for what I do. I’m excited for what is to come.

The Wire series/ HBO
The Walking Dead series / AMC

Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear. The characters which you portray are always quite memorable and that is a testament to your work. You also have a very diverse resume. You have worked in Drama, Thrillers, Comedy, and Horror, etc. Do you enjoy that diversity to work in different areas?

Chad L. Coleman – I do! I think the key to acting is imagination. I go back again to that child-like quality… what’s the thing you can hold onto the most? You can sit in a room as a child, with no one there, and imagine a plant is a monster. Acting always stimulates the imagination and that child-like imagination. That’s at the core of it. Now, there is also technique, different genres, subject matters, and craft, of course! But at the core of it, we are just big little kids playing in the sandbox. (Laughs) Everybody doesn’t get to do that. So, I always feel really fortunate to have a career and to be a working actor. Two percent… that’s the percent that make a living at it. I am very fortunate.

Cryptic Rock – That is something special. Would you say your outlook stems from your upbringing as a child moving into adulthood? Some are not as humble and gracious in life. 

Chad L. Coleman – I would say it is wisdom built over the years. I was very sure of myself as an actor very early on. (Laughs) There was a certain amount of cockiness there, that over time, you realize what a gift it is, and how fortunate you are. There was a bit of I’m the ish, and why am I not… you know. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I was always full of humility and gratitude as I am today. That’s a learning process. I came into the business full bore and I’m still full bore. I’m still as passionate as ever.

At the age of fourteen I knew that this is what I was going to do with the rest of my life… I did have certain expectations. I had to deal with some challenges; I can say that thousand percent. It didn’t just unfold like a magic red carpet saying, “Here you go buddy, you have a great career.” (Laughs) It took work, discipline, self-analysis, and growth.

As I began to deal with the person I was (because I was extremely driven and I wanted to succeed at this), I will still tell any young actor, it is who you are as a person. As you begin to deal with that, you place all the industry stuff into perspective and recognize how fortunate you are to be in it. Sometimes you hear this kind of talk with NBA or NFL players. It’s a privilege, it’s not automatic.

Cryptic Rock – Right, it makes sense, and it seems you have a very great outlook. So, you have this new film The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster. This is a very interesting modern take on the classic tale of Frankenstein. How did this project come about?

Chad L. Coleman – I got a call. I believe Bomani J. Story (the creator of this film) was a fan of The Wire, The Walking Dead, and some of my prior work. When you are a director, you are constantly looking for who my characters are. The story is in your mind all the time, so I think my work is of a father who cares deeply, but is facing certain challenges, he’d seen that in other roles that I played. The call came and I graciously accepted after speaking with Denzel Whitaker who is in the film as well.

The Orville Series/ Hulu
Superman & Lois series / CW

Cryptic Rock – The story is compelling, the acting is good, and there is excellent cinematography. This is a Horror film, but there is also some social commentary here. Was that something that drew you to this as well?

Chad L. Coleman – A thousand percent. I had seen Jordan Peele; I think in a more overt way saying – racism is the monster. He did it successfully, but also did it in a way that was somewhat surreal… even though there were grounded implications.

The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is straight to it. You are standing in a marginalized world where people are suffering greatly from violence on violence. There are people who are up against incredible challenges with their families being destroyed by this and the level of grief involved. Then you have this light in Laya DeLeon Hayes as Vicaria (she plays my daughter). The light is damaged by the twisted nature of this powerfully violent place that she’s grown up in… but she’s still brilliant. Can the teachers see her brilliance?

All of these things have powerful implications to what’s going on with many people of color today. That’s why I love the title of the film. For me, most people see young black girls, and the first thing they want to see, say, and project is anger. For most young black males, the first thing they want to see, say, and project is, they’re monsters. I was really thinking about what Trump said about The Central Park Five. I was thinking, “Yea, this is what we are talking about. This is what they are up against.”

Nobody is trying to paint a completely bleak picture, but we have to be willing to take these things on. Bomani took it on in a way where he honored the genre, but you do leave that theater thinking, “Man, what’s going on? What are we going to do about this?” It is not just about the Horror and the monster, you don’t lose that message… and that’s not easy to do. I was really proud of him for that and without beating you over the head with it.

Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. It does not beat you over the head. It stays true to the genre, but it makes you think. That balance is what makes it effective.

Chad L. Coleman – Yes indeed. He had a few balls in the air. As a young director, it could have leaned too heavily in one particular area, and you would have missed, because you didn’t stay true to the genre. This holds together wonderfully and still has some trippy parts in it too. There are some real trippy, bizarre-like moments that don’t always get to see actors of color in.  

The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster / RLJE Films (2023)

Cryptic Rock – Yes, it all works together well. It even has a retro feeling at times.

Chad L. Coleman – Absolutely. There were moments where I felt like I was watching The Wire.

Cryptic Rock – Very true. As a seasoned actor, at this stage in your career, is it most redeeming to be a part of projects with a message like The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster?

Chad L. Coleman – Without a doubt. I have the same kind of resonance in The Orville too; The LBGTQ+ community is loving The Moclans. All things that I do, if they can resonate with the truth of what’s going on in the world, and we are willing to take it on, that’s where I’m at. I think people appreciate you for being brave enough not to go cookie cutter or PC. 

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