We had the good fortune of connecting with James Ken Blackmon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James Ken, how do you think about risk?
I see risk as being absolutely necessary to achieving a life well lived. There’s an abundance of different levels of risk, and I truly believe “the bigger the risk the better the reward”…Growing up I had a disproportionate amount of people around me playing it safe. No one was actively pursuing their dreams, which always leads to bitterness and regret however small. So I promised myself I’d never shy away from taking big risks. In my opinion the pain and regret from never stepping up to the plate at all, was greater than the fear of staring down the pitcher. My life and career are both intertwined with this core belief, everything from motorcycling in Africa, to acting in Hollywood.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I got to where I am today professionally by always following what I’m passionate about. This life is too short to squander it on things that don’t move you in some way. Being a creative in the realms of acting and music were my first loves. Those paths in particular can be extremely hard, filled with frustration and rejection. If you don’t have that kind of deep connection to them you won’t get through the dark times. A highlight of this part of my life was getting to work with and stand beside Beyoncé in the “Formation” video, which reminded the world of the beauty and power of the black community here in the US. As a black artist that project inspired me to help continue to spread the worth and relevance of my community, actively pushing for racial equality. Most recently I hosted a panel for NBC Universal in conjunction with the Portland Film Festival, where we discussed Equality in the Entertainment industry and the stereotypes that still plague our society today. Later on I found motivation from being apart of businesses that had strong core beliefs. One being a motorcycle clothing store I owned alongside partners, where we lived our brand. My main focus now is to live as authentically as possible within my chosen endeavors, acting to business and everything in between.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hands-down I would take them on a motorcycle trip up the coast, taking the PCH all the way to San Francisco and back. I’ve done that ride before and it’s an unforgettable experience. LA is the perfect starting point cause you get to see the evolving contrast of city to natural landscapes. We’d start with coffee and breakfast at Zinc Cafe in DTLA, then jump on the highway enjoying the coastline and sea air for hours, stopping midway for lunch at a roadside diner and maybe a dip in the ocean. Power through the rest of the ride up, making it just in time for dinner in San Fran at Mission Chinese Food (a must if in the city). We’d stay for a couple days then head back to LA, really taking in the sights on the way down like Big Sur. Ending the whole trip with organic southern food at Comfort LA in DTLA.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my parents, Leroy and Jacqueline Blackmon. They did a lot with very little, not only instilling in me hard work and consistency but they also gave me great examples of what truly good people are. Even when they questioned my methods, they still stood by me no matter what.
Jesse Green Mark MacInnis Owen Dubeck Hanis Hamdan Keely Cat-Wells Sarah Sebring