Antoine McKay has been among the leading actors and directors to hail from the Mid West for over 20 years. While studying under the world famous acting coach Uta Hagen and developing his skills at Eastern Michigan University’s prestigious theatre arts program, Antoine’s passion for acting grew from a young age.
Starting his career in acting at the Second City’s Main Stages in Detroit and Chicago,
where he wrote and performed in over 20 critically acclaimed shows. He has been in starring roles in many commercials and television appearances on shows including Prison Break (FOX), Detroit 187 (ABC), ER (NBC), Sports Action Team (NBC).
McKay has appeared along side Nicholas Cage in the feature film The Weatherman and Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and Osso Bucco, with Mike Starr. Most recently he has appeared in FOX’s hit show Empire starring Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidibe to name a few, making Antoine a television favourite!
Growing up, while having a passion for acting who was your inspiration on the big screen at the time?
Denzel Washington was a gigantic inspiration to me. I saw him for the first time in Saint Elsewhere, where he played the role of a doctor. He, along with my parent showed me it’s cool to be smart.
Appearing as “Bunkie” in the TV primetime drama Empire, how was it for you to be part of such a production?
To be cast as Bunkie was great. All of it was a fantastic learning experience. Being able to work so closely with Lee, Tarji, Terrance, Gabby, Malik, Jussie, Katlin & Yaz was a blast as well as an awesome challenge to be among some of the best actors around.
It changed my career. It opened so many doors and most importantly it made me into a better actor.
You were able to create the character based on the guys from your neighbourhood as well as your cousin, Orlando. For you, how did you want ‘Bunkie’ to be represented to the audience?
While Bunkie was flawed, he cared about Cookie and Lucious. He helped with the kids a lot. But he had a major entitlement issue. Because he did help many people, he felt he was owed a lot more.
Racism is theme that is brought up in the show and you have said it is something that angers you. How do you feel about police brutality towards African Americans, especially with the recent shootings coming to light and the Black Lives Matter movement?
The issue of racism has us all at a major crossroad in America. ALL OF US. It is now time for all of us to take responsibility and own up to our part of the systemic initiations, the retaliations, the destruction of our own communities, the lack of listening, the the finger pointing, the unbalance playing field… ALL OF IT! We are all in this. This goes deep. We have to go there and find the answers. Debate will occur. But these solutions much be found through mutual respect. We all must form a righteous anger against hate & inequality. Without which no people wins its true liberty.
You father played a significant role in your life and upbringing. Now being a father of six, what would you say the most valuable lesson your father taught you which you wish to instil into your children?
My father continues teach us to cling to our faith, respect others and love people. You don’t know peoples story or the hurt they may be carrying. So just love people. It may be what they need.
What message do you have for young and upcoming actors, based on your own experiences?
As an actor you have to do one thing everyday that helps your career. One thing. You can not be in this business half way. You have to be all in. Pushing forward.