INTERVIEW: Sierra Leonean/U.S. Actor, Delpaneaux Wills Talks Acting in Hollywood, New Movie ‘Bad Samaritan’, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Broadway, #MeToo Movement, and More…
Delpaneaux Wills (pronounced Del-pawn-o) is a U.S. citizen of African and Latin descent. Born in Nebraska, USA. Raised in Sierra Leone from ages 4 to 14, then came back to the United States. Delpaneaux’s father is of Afro-Cuban descent from the United States and his mother is from Sierra Leone.
When he returned to the United States as a teenager he fell in love with football, medicine, and acting. While at Whittier College, he was involved in theatre programme. He had plans to follow in his father’s footsteps as a doctor, but had to give it up for his love of acting.
Since moving to Los Angeles, Delpaneaux has become an active presence in theatre, television, and film. In 2009, Delpaneaux was Seneca Keflezi an African track star in the Lifetime Original Film “Chasing a Dream“. Delpaneaux has also appeared on T.V in “The E-Ring“, “Las Vegas“, “The L-Word“, “General Hospital“, “Agent X“, “Criminal Minds“, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.“, “NCIS“, “How to Get Away with Murder” and more.
His film work includes a lead role in the Lionsgate’s “Darktown“, the Sci-fi film “Sand Sharks“, the faith-based film “Do You Believe?“, Backseat and his latest movie coming out on May 4th “Bad Samaritan“.
Check out my exclusive interview with him below:
Hey Delpaneaux! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi. My name is Delpaneaux Wills. I am an actor.
Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
Usually, I wake up, pray, and go to the gym. After the gym, I start to prepare for the audition that I have for that day. If there is no audition for that day, I may read a play to keep sharp. Talk to my manager.
What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?
I studied at San Diego State University, Whittier College, and The Ruskin Theater.
How were you discovered and what inspired you to go into acting?
I was discovered by my old agent Nancy Abt, who has left the film the industry. I was inspired to go in to acting by watching great actors like Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington.
You had plans to follow in your father’s footsteps as a doctor, but gave it up for acting, why?
No, he was in business, a model, and a theater actor. Initially I did not want to be an actor, because I was really interested in medicine and helping others. I found out later on in life that being an actor I can help people and change lives, as well.
What was your first audition process like?
My first audition was very scary. I did not know what to expect. I was nervous, but prepared. I got the lead role of Rakeem in the vampire film DARKTOWN. It was my first audition and booked the job.
You seem to cast more in many Government/CIA/FBI investigative shows like; Agent X, Criminal Minds, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., NCIS, How to Get Away with Murder and more… Why?
Well, I think I just have that look of a FBI agent or a Lawyer. I am over 6 feet tall, so maybe that could be the reason.
You also starred in some highly successful TV Series like; American Crime Story, General Hospital, Code Black, The Librarians, etc, what were the experiences like and how were you scouted for those shows?
By doing in well in plays and other TV shows, casting directors would see me perform and call my agent, to have me audition for their shows.
You have acted in lots of TV series and movies to many to even mention, what will you say are some of the differences of being on either the big or small screens?
I think that you have a lot more freedom to take chances when you are doing a film on the big screen. A lot of times in TV, there is a schedule and time constraints that production has to follow, so there is less time to try and be creative.
Speaking of differences, what type of TV shows do you find yourself watching?
I watch a lot of shows that are based on history or fantasy.
I heard you also have done some stage performances, tell us more about that?
I love being on stage. Performing on stage in Shakespeare plays are some of my best memories. When I did “Much Ado About Nothing” by Shakespeare, I played the role of Claudio. Claudio’s character was a very fun character to play. I also have worked in many other play, but that one was my favorite. Performing on stage makes you feel alive and lets you connect with the people in the audience.
Tell me more about your love for acting and how you use it to communicate through your work?
Well, like I mentioned before, I want help people and change lives. When I fell in love with acting and realized that I was good at it, I wanted to do great things with my ability. I know that film and music can reach many people around the world and can leave a negative or positive effect on them. I want to do films where after someone is finished watching a film that I was in, they would call their mother or family member, just to tell them that they loved them.
You have shared the acting scene with many of the movies/TV Stars. What will you say motivated/inspires you to stay dedicated to what you do?
I have shared the scenes with a lot of great actors. It always inspires me to watch some of these great actors with their hard work and their attention to detail. I know by watching them, that I have a long way to go.
What’s your 5 Dos and Don’t when it comes to acting?
DO’s: Take chances.
DON’Ts: Don’t be afraid to take chances.
What do you do to stay in shape, do you go to the gym?
At the gym, I do a lot of Cardio, TR-X workouts and weights. I also eat clean to stay in shape.
How do you balance your personal and music life?
The balance between my personal life and acting life is easy. When you love what you do, it’s not work. Acting is my passion and I have fun doing, I would love to do it 24/7. As for my personal life, I just spend time with family and that makes me pretty happy too.
How would you describe the entertainment scene in the United States, when it comes to encouraging new talents?
The entertainment scene in the United States is very hard, but rewarding. Like other industries, it is very competitive. Although, if you work and pay your dues, you will reap the benefits of your hard work.
What is your take on the latest sexual allegations rocking Hollywood?
Those things should not have happened. Everyone should be respected.
I read you have featured in the same film set with David Oyellowo, is that true?
I did a film with David Oyelowo back in 2007 called “AMERICAN BLEND”. It was his first American film. We have been friends since then
What do you consider the most common stereotype about Hollywood?
That all you need is a pretty face to make it in Hollywood. That is a big misconception, you actually have to study acting and put in the time to perfect your craft. The good looks might get you a couple of jobs, but if you are not a good actor, people will figure it out. Then will no longer be working in Hollywood.
What aspect surprised you the most once you started as an actor?
I was really surprised to find that there were nice and trustworthy people in Hollywood. When I first started, everyone told me that Hollywood was filled with cut-throat people and that you can’t trust anyone. On some aspect, that is true, but you can find genuine people in Hollywood too.
Which brands, clients, photographers, actors, producers, directors, etc, have you worked with?
I have been blessed to work with a wide variety of actors, directors and producers. There are so many, it will be hard to name them all.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
The film that I worked in called “BACKSEAT” will be coming out this fall. “BACKSEAT” stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams and a lot of other great actors, it will possibly be an Oscar Contender.
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
There are so many actors that I would like to work, like Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise and Oprah to name a few.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Living up to the standards that were set before me by others and by myself.
Tell us two things people don’t know about you?
My left thumb bends all the way back to my wrist and I speak three languages English, Krio and Spanish.
You are very active on social media. Do you think it’s important to be online and if so why?
Yes, it is important to be on social media. I believe it is a great way to get to know my fans and their concerns. I also know that it is great way to reach masses and stay connected.
You were raised in Sierra Leone, West Africa but now currently based in California. How is that working out for you?
After I returned to the States, I was blessed that my parents decided to settle here, because I was able to find my passion for acting
What are your must visit travel destinations?
Colombia, Guyana, Cuba, Egypt, Spain, Italy, Ghana and definitely back to Sierra Leone.
How would you describe your style?
My style would be modern GQ.
What style genre appeals to you the most?
The GQ gentlemen style.
Name your 5 must have accessories/essentials?
My 5 must have accessories are:
1. My cell phone
2. Flat cap
3. Wireless headphones
4. Sierra Leonean necklace
5. Leather jacket.
What are your favourite fashion trends?
My favorite fashion trends are anything that is comfortable and edgy.
What is your favourite dish?
Cassava Leaves and rice.
What songs are currently on your playlist?
A lot of House, African, Spanish songs.
Apart from acting, what other projects are you currently working on?
Apart from acting, I have been writing lately and trying to produce my own projects. I have written a script called “Another Word For Friendship”, which is a story that focuses on baseball, faith and friendship.
Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams?
“Stay in Line”
Any specific plans for the future?
In the next month on 5/4/18, I have a film coming out in theaters worldwide called BAD SAMARITAN, where I play Officer Aguilar. BAD SAMARITAN stars David Tennant and Robert Sheehan.
Any final words?
Put GOD first in everything you do.
Where can we follow you online and on social media?
FACEBOOK: Delpaneaux Wills