Sheaun McKinney is an actor who came from the rough-and-tumble streets of Miami, Florida to our television screens, gracing us with his role as Dayshaun in the HBO show Vice Principals. While originally not wanting to become an actor, he has grown into the career that he feels god has blessed him with, even starting his own theater company that is still very active today.
Bleu had the honor of interviewing actor McKinney about his role in the HBO show Vice Principals. We discussed his history as an actor, the challenges an fun parts of being an actor, as well as his character from the show and what we can expect from Vice Principals. You can read the interview below.
Tell us about your life- what drove you to acting?
I was born and raised in Miami, FL… I had no inclination to ever want to be an actor when I was younger. As I got into college, some things did lead me to wanting to be an actor, and it became something that I fell in love with while I was doing theater in college. Shortly after that when I graduated, my friends and I started our own theater company, called Ground Up and Rising. You can look us up on groundupandrising.org. And then I moved to LA for good, and I kinda started to see that this is really what the good Lord wanted me to do, and I couldn’t stop or run away from it.
What is your favorite part about acting?
I think when I did my first play, being that I came from a certain neighborhood, you grew up a certain way as a male in Western civilization and the problem is not showing emotion and it kind of stifles your development as far as your sensitivities go. But for me when I first got up on stage I was able to be anybody I wanted and I started to truly blossom as a person because I had no fear at all whether anybody judged me if I was onstage or on camera. I felt really really free. And then I remember doing my first professional play- we had done this show and a bunch of high school kids had come to see the show. And after one show one of these kids stood up and I couldn’t recognize his face, but he had tears in his eyes and he started to speak. He said watching me do what I had done made him think he could do what he wanted, too. And when I saw his face, this was a kid that had I seen him a year or two prior and somewhere else, we would’ve had a problem because he was from a certain area and I was from a certain area. For him to have that reaction, that told me that this provides a platform where you can reach people.
Do you have any advice for young, up-and-coming actors?
Believe in why you started doing it, and never ever forget that. And if you are in it just to be famous that is your own prerogative and no one can judge you for it. But that makes the world a little harder. I believe that if you got it and you got a true passion for it, don’t ever let anything negative take that. Pay attention to who’s advising you, and don’t give up. I am a firm believer in my faith that if you have a dream, put it to your heart and go for it, don’t let anyone else defy that.
What was it like working with the directors of Vice Principals?
At first it was really surreal, being a part of any video production and being a fan of Danny McBride and Jodie Hill. When you first hear that you’re going to be working with these people, you get all these ideas in your head and when I got to meet all of them, I think they were the nicest people you could ever work with. Jodie’s style for the first season was very laid back, Danny had a little more attention to detail, but they both allowed you to be an artist. They allowed you to come in and improv and explore and all that, they gave you free ground to do all of that. And it was probably, for film, the greatest experience that I’ve had for film so far.
Tell us about your character, Dayshaun.
Dayshaun is the head of the cafeteria. He isn’t just a cafeteria worker, he runs the show. He is the coolest guy you could ever meet, and he kinda reminded me of when I was in school and there were these people in school that were laid back and cool and gave you advice. They might tell you in a blunt manner but they gave you the advice you need. Dayshaun is kind of the voice of reason.
What was the most challenging part about working on set?
The most challenging part about working on set was probably… trying not to laugh. They are great great writers and actors and great actors with great improv. That was probably the hardest part was being around all these people and trying not to laugh all the time. Whether it was someone else’s take or your own take, it was the hardest part for me to not laugh all the time.
What can we expect from Vice Principals?
IF you’ve watched so far, you’ve started to see all the different storylines develop and I think it’s one of the shows on right now that is just fearless in its approach to storytelling. It’s telling the story of two outrageous people and going about what they want out of life but realizing that circumstances are what they are. And I think it takes you on one hell of a ride from start to finish. You just see great characters taking one hell of a ride.
Do you have anything you think that our readers might want to hear?
Haha I don’t know. I am very fortunate to be part of such a good production, and I hope that they truly do enjoy the show. Sit down, watch it, talk about it.