From The Bobby Brown Story to Black Mafia Family, Mike Merrill has steadily been building a career guided by his higher power. “I wake up every day grateful, thanking God first for another chance at life,” he shares. Compelled by a dream to pursue his passions, the Detroit native first moved to Atlanta for modeling and acting jobs before settling under the bright lights of Los Angeles. Much like his character Dexter on Finding Happy, it’s a certain attitude that’s kept him on track. “We are a lot alike, it’s just that his upbringing was different from mine,” Merrill shares. “He’s joyful, respectful, loyal, honest and always positive, just like me!”

Here, Merrill reveals how he taps into his sensitivity and vulnerability to shape his roles, and how he learned from his father that present circumstances never have to cloud your mind.

Being a young Black man in this industry isn’t easy at all. We get typecasted a lot. For me, I’ve faced being overlooked when I know I’m ready for that right role and I’ve shown that in any acting opportunity I’ve had. Some people are blinded by true talents. But I’m inspired by my pops. The fact that my dad has been in prison since 1999 and still to this day his spirit is still high, he’s never lacking energy and he always talks about spending time with family again when he’s finally free. That man is a big reason why I will never quit! So I choose positivity. I sit at the edge of my bed and meditate for 10 minutes to get my day started.  Feeding the homeless and speaking life into kids of all grades are things I love to do.

Mike Merrill photographed by Keith Major for EBONY Media.

Vulnerability is everything to me, it’s how I grow as a person and actor. I’m able to tap into my emotions with ease. I think of things that I’ve been through to get my sensitive side, and I relate my past experiences to what my character is going through and becoming. Doesn’t hurt that I’m a Cancer too.

Mike Merrill

I’m always nervous when I have to showcase my talent in front of people, but I don’t let it stop me. I always push through to overcome. When you tap into your vulnerability, you don’t worry so much about the people around you. Instead, you dig deep and make people feel every single word that comes from your mouth.

I played Derek in The Baby Proposal, and it’s the role that has challenged me the most to date. I say that because it was my first lead role and I had to be a totally different person every day. Honestly, I’m still waiting for a role that challenges me enough to shape me.

The answer is kind of simple: hire Black writers, Black producers and Black actors. We are our own story and we tell and perform our stories the best.

Mike Merrrill

My dream role?  Three words: I AM LEGEND. That’s all I have to say.