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'Hit & Run' Star Kevin Mambo Talks Acting, Music, And His Greatest Inspiration

Tell us a bit about yourself.

What can I say? I'm an introverted-extrovert artist who was born in Zimbabwe and lives in NYC. I’m a musician and also make my living as an actor/director/writer. I’m avid about food and my puppy, Penelope.

We also see that you are an avid musician. You learned how to play the piano, saxophone, and guitar at a young age. Did you like acting from childhood? What sparked your interest in becoming an actor?

I never thought I would be an actor, but my mother reminded me that she took me to see children's theater at a very young age. After seeing the Jackson Five from the front row, and doing the choreography (I got teased as "Jackson 6”), I thought I was going to sing. I’ve always connected to the arts. I love film and TV. I was raised on Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Warner Brothers vaudeville cartoons! I can quote all of that stuff still; I think I learned Eddie Murphy's “Delirious” word-for-word, front-to-back by age fifteen. I can say it was a hit at jazz camp.

Who or what inspires you to give it your all each and every day?

My mother. She raised two headstrong boys with discipline, sacrifice, and leading by example. She spent a lot of time with chronic illness but never blinked. I reach for that when I think there isn't anything left in the tank sometimes. Also, any time one can be of service or extend kindness, I feel that is the energy that helps others and also rejuvenates our own selves. Love is powerful.

What do you like the most about being an actor? The least?

I love being able to create, problem solve, work with a team, learn, ride together in what is essentially a dream, and share that dream with others.

I hate the look I get if they mess up my makeup, wardrobe, or hair. I hate being on set in the wee hours on the water—and not having any long johns. That is very, very brutal. We work long and brutal hours, the entire team does. Keeping up the right energy for every single take is not an easy task, no matter what side of the camera you are on. First the grind then, if you are lucky, comes a little glamour. Only a small sliver of people get to have that. Even under the daily complaints is gratitude though.

You have been part of so many different projects on stage and on screen. Tell us about some of them. What type of acting do you prefer? Stage acting or screen?

I’m fortunate to have been asked to do impactful and historical work. From working with Lynn Nottage to starring in Fela! about the socio-political Pan Africanist music genius, Fela Kuti, to playing Jimmy Rodgers in Cadillac Records. I often get to cross paths with the people who are a part of these stories and movements. Mr. Roger's daughter is now a friend of mine. The history that created change, and the commentary that altered said history—I have a front-row seat to some of these flashpoints. I find that when you are engaged properly in stage or screen, everything else—for such a brief second—entirely disappears. It can really be an elusive thing—a Zen state, really. That said, the stage is the medium of the actor; taking the time to hone and craft a real human being, usually with some chronology. I always like working on the boards to learn and keep my tools sharp. I've left a lot of blood there.

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