We had the good fortune of connecting with Gary McKee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gary, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I recently had a consultation about what how to fix my mindset and my mental blockade. It was enlightening and solidified things about myself that I otherwise wasn’t fully aware of. They had me do a prompt where I boil down the question of “Why do I do this?”
In the end, I figured out that I pursued this artistic endeavor to: “Disappear without disappearing.”
As a kid and even as an Adult, I realize that is why I love bringing stories to light. Whether it is Acting or Writing a story that I’m highly impassioned about. The highest compliment I love getting is: It was you, but not you. Anything within that realm of saying is great to me. Sayings like that validate my years of training and hard work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an Actor/Writer that loves to create works of art that challenge, uplift, and entertain in a different way than the audience’s expect. I tend to be very picky about what I Act and Write, because of the self-awareness that my legacy may bring about. I’ve wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember, what started this journey was watching Michael Jackson perform and seeing how impressive he was on stage. There were moments in my life where I thought being a Firefighter, Race Car Driver, or even an Historian would be the path for me, but there was always that voice that beckoned me to Acting.
College taught me about the many voices that contribute to the world of Theater and how they shaped the world we live in. Did you know that Shakespeare created the name Jessica? I find that Fascinating. Needless to say, I’m a bit of nerd.
However, as an African American actor, I have learned that my skin color can affect the way people treat me and make certain assumptions about who I am. I don’t let those things stop me, but being Black in the entertainment industry has made me more resilient and steadfast in being GARY!
I’d like to be recognized for my hard-work, talent, and uniqueness. I look like a Jock, but have the spirit of a Nerd – it’s a conundrum indeed. I can be highly energetic and low key mellow. I’m a huge contradiction, but I can mold myself to what is needed to communicate.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
WOW! That’s a lot of pressure. The good thing is, I’m born and raised in this great State of California. Rare, I know, but advantageous. So, what I would do is start the trip of slow and end on a bang.
Day 1: First we would check out Runyon Canyon. I know it’s cliche, but everyone who isn’t from here loves the Hollywood sign. Then after a quick 1-hour break, we would go to Hollywood and check out the Walk of Fame, take photos along the way, then take them to the TCL Chinese Theater to see a movie. If there were no COVID, I would have them see if their hands and feet fit in the cement – always a fun thing to do. Afterwards do Pizza then sleep.
Day 2: Go to Santa Monica Pier and spend a few hours their. Maybe even rent some bikes and enjoy the breeze. I would then see it they were up to learning how to Surf, sign up for some lessons. Afterwards we’d eat at Del Frisco’s Grille, it’s one of my low-key favorite places.
Day 3: For some excitement, we’d head over to the northern part of SoCal where Six Flags Magic Mountain is. It would be a whole day affair as we would explore some of the best rollercoasters on this side of the west coast. My personal favorite is Tatsu! If my friend was still in the mood, we’d leave and check out Chi Chi’s Pizza in the heart of the Santa Clarita Valley. The only pizza place I’d recommend hands down.
Day 4: Take a drive up to Santa Barbara. I don’t think there’s nothing else to say than Santa Barbara. We’d have to definitely checkout the Cliff House Inn – best seafood in the state in my honest opinion. Then some window shopping in town and do a sight seeing out of towner style.
Day 5: Go to downtown LA and explore everything that part of town has to offer. The garment district, the last bookstore, and hopefully this is the day that the Artwalk is happening where you can get a feel for the more culturally awesomeness LA has. Earlier in the day, we’d check out the LACMA museum and La Brea Tar Pits – most people don’t check them out, even if they’re from here.
DAY 6: We would come down to hangout at Universal Studios, what can I say, I love theme parks! We would start off exploring the Park going on my favorite rides (Minion Mayhem and Jurassic World) and hopefully they have a great time. Perhaps the new Super Nintendo World is open by then… afterwards we’d go and have fun in City Walk and eat at Bubba Gump.
DAY 7: Last day! We’d go check out the Cabazon Dinosaurs, maybe even hangout at one of the close by Casinos! Then we’d swerve over to Disneyland and make some fun before having to leave. Even hit up Galaxy’s Edge and have them leave with their own Lightsaber!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I don’t nearly give this individual as much credit in my story, but I often think about them. My voice teacher/coach, Anne Schilling, where ever she maybe is the one person I would love to dedicate my shoutout to. She was the one person, not related to me, who always pushed me to do more and believed in me when I felt the world had turn it’s back on me. I always felt that when things were tough, she was the one I looked to. Anne is caring, steadfast, and encouraging. Without her, I don’t think I’d be where I am and have the perseverance that developed as a result of her belief in me.
Headshots: Bella Saville Photography