EBONY celebrates the strength and beauty of Black Men. “Leading Men: A Portrait & Essay Series” features nine Black actors leading the way in Hollywood. Here, actor Keith Powers reveals why we need more roles that express Black joy.
Photographed by Keith Major for EBONY Media.
In the new Netflix romcom The Perfect Find, Keith Powers plays Eric, a young man who finds that one true love. It’s something the actor is searching for himself. “I want a family on my own someday,” he tells EBONY. He had a good example of how a family should be from his father, who he credits as one of his life’s most significant forces.
Here, Powers shares more about his dad and a special group that keeps him active.
One of my main goals in life is to be a husband and a father.Keith Powers
At one point in my life, I didn’t think I was built for something like that. But seeing other people get married and have kids is very inspiring. I’ve always thought it was dope to create your family unit. I feel that in the past, young people did just that and it’s coming back now, at least from my point of view of my friends.
My father has been the most significant man in my life. He’s always there for me. Even when he’s shown me that he’s not perfect, he’s led me in the right direction regardless, and I love that about him. He’s the main reason I stayed out of the streets and on a certain path, which I appreciate.
Black male vulnerability is not being afraid to express your feelings to anyone unapologetically. It’s understanding what you feel and expressing that. I try to express myself at every chance, even if I feel like I will be judged. It’s to show that it’s normal to express yourself and be sensitive, affectionate, and intimate with your loved ones. That’s how I express my sensitive side.
I do a lot of journaling and studying. I read a lot of self-help books. I’m trying to practice what I preach—if a loved one is going through it, I’ll mentally be there for him and listen, knowing that I don’t always have all the answers. Having a therapist and getting the tools for mental wellness is one thing, but having a loved one listen means everything in the world.
I think I’ve always been scared to fail. But I’ve learned you must embrace failure because that’s the only way to truly learn. If you try to do everything perfectly—well, there’s just no such thing as that, right? The earlier you learn to accept failure and not be afraid of it, the better you’ll be prepared for later in life.
We’re so much more versatile. We want to see ourselves in freaking fairy tales and playing vampires and out in space.Keith Powers
I think representation matters. Our opportunities are already slim and in many of those, you will see Black people depicted in a way that has something to do with trauma. I think that it’s important for Hollywood to understand that we need to tell other stories too.
I have a collective called “And Things” that I started with a bunch of people from Sacramento. We throw events because I always believe community is huge; it’s our basic human interaction. We throw parties and do yoga and have brunches. I think those spaces are really important. To meet people that might change your life or flip a switch, community is key.