An Interview With Actor Clifton Duncan

Last week, I had the opportunity to chat with Clifton Duncan about Pop-Tarts, Hollywood, and pop culture!

Blabbering Collector: When did you decide you wanted to become an actor?

Clifton Duncan: Gosh *chuckles* It’s not going to be an exaggeration, but it’s probably maybe five or six years after I graduated from Acting Conservatory. Before then, I didn’t feel comfortable telling people that’s what I did, especially in New York; you know, you can swing a dead cat by the tail and smack an actor in the head or something. They are crawling all over the place, probably more than the roaches and rats over there. That was a terrible comparison to make of actors! We love actors; they are okay, sometimes! I did my first play when I was sixteen. I was more into illustration and cartooning, so that is what I was thinking about doing! Then, I chased a girl into drama class and dropped my French class of three years. That’s pretty much how most straight men get into drama and theater, anyway. There is always some girl involved. I just kinda had the aptitude for it, and going for theater in undergrad was cheaper than going to Savannah College of Art and Design.

Almost by accident, I don’t know if I chose to be an actor. I know it’s going to sound pretentious, but it’s almost like acting chose me, in a way. I didn’t have that many designs on doing it; nobody in my family was an actor, and I received a lot of encouragement when I was sixteen and seventeen. Even though everyone in the industry tells you now that everything is racist, I’ve been encouraged from day one. I was told that if I worked hard, I would be successful, and people believed in me even more than I believed in myself. I kept getting cast in shows, and people were giving me positive feedback. That’s kinda what began to happen, and it’s weird how it works out.

BC: What are your favorite roles that you’ve played and why?

C: Oh gosh! Favorite roles… let me think! A few of them come to mind. One is a character called Coalhouse Walker Jr. He is one of the lead musical characters in a show called Ragtime. It’s a musical based on the novel of the same name. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do! It’s set in the early 1900s and in an America trying to figure out its identity. It’s a powerful story and a great novel. This character is a musician in Harlem, and he is trying to win his girl back. He ends up running into tragedy when his girlfriend is killed by some racist thugs, and he ends up going all out, going ham, going into terrorism, kinda revolutionary tactics. It’s a great role for me because it has a great score, some great songs to fill up a theater! It had great acting material as well.

Second, I was in a show called Macbeth by William Shakespeare, playing the role of Macduff. He is an interesting character because he kinda comes in and out of the play, but he is the hero. He ends up killing the bad guy, the titular character. This character’s wife and kids get killed in the middle of a powerful scene; it’s also a political scene, so you have to make it emotionally charged, but you have to make it compelling to the audience. Macduff is just a really weird role!

Third would probably be [from] Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I played the role of Caliban, and he is a slave. He is treated horribly right off the bat. I’m literally wearing chains as part of my costume. I had to be the person that kept saying, “Let’s keep going; let’s keep pushing it. Manhandle me, toss me around the room.” Some people were really uncomfortable with it because it was a black dude playing a fucking slave!

BC: All I can hear is Az saying, “Classically chained.”

C: *Laughing* Exactly! It’s this weird role because it starts off in a tragic place. Right off the bat, there is a tragic scene! It’s a great way to show that when an old play is well done, you can still do them and entertain and engage the audience! We shouldn’t cancel them just because you find them offensive in some ways. Message!

B: Do you prefer film or the stage?

C: Stage is what I’ve done the most; it’s what I’m more comfortable with. But with film, that is where the big bucks come from. You’re using the same craft, just applying it differently, whether you are on stage or onscreen. You do the theater because you love it; you do the TV stuff for the money. You get into the groove, and it becomes an obscenely high-paid job.

BC: When did you realize that your peers in Hollywood and on Broadway were staying quiet on important issues?


BC: What made you decide to speak out, even though you knew it would diminish your opportunities within Hollywood?

C: I’ll tell you what, it was a one-two punch of the pandemic response and also the uproar in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Hollywood was shut down anyway, but at the same time, the industry quickly decided that it needed to do more work to eradicate white supremacy within its own ranks. You know, as bad as wokeness is in Hollywood, it’s ten times more concentrated in theater. I’m getting these emails from white women that I’ve worked with in the past, with institutions I’ve worked with in the past… they are sending out surveys and their new lists of rules and guidelines in order to address systemic racism and institutional racism, and trying to include BIPOC people because we are only acronyms to these people now, we are not human beings. And there was just this consistent message of, “We know that you’re hurting; we know you’re suffering; we know we haven’t done enough… here is all that we’re going to do…” People were reaching out to me privately in contrition and kept telling me, “We’re so sorry.” Like, you’re just assuming your life is better because you’re white; that’s kinda racist, you dumb cunt.

I saw the way that these things were just sweeping across the industry, and for whatever reason, it is just really hard for me to shut up about this kind of stuff. I just decided to say it on my public social media. I had already been doing it on my anonymous account, where I was tweeting my true thoughts and following the people that I felt were on my wavelength. At one point, I was just like, “Fuck it,” and I went public. The racist stuff affects me personally. I’m sitting here as someone who has not struggled for work as much as most people have. Part of that is just how I look, how I sound, my singing, my skill set. If you look up my credits, there is no repetition there, and I’m very proud of that.

Like I said before, I was always encouraged from the very beginning. Then, all of a sudden, I’m being told everything is racist, and people need to do more. But I’ve been doing just fine. There are a bunch of black women who have been doing great, like Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o! You have Sterling K. Brown, Idris Elba, so many who have done great things. We are all over the place! And then, people will be like, “Is that enough?” And I’m like, “There is no satisfying these people.” In the wake of the George Floyd stuff, I tried to explain to some of my white colleagues that if you keep acquiescing to this stuff, these people will never be satisfied. There is no point that they will stop. They don’t want to be equal with you; they want revenge. Everything was just going so fast and so sweeping! The unions would be coming in too.

I kept thinking to myself, “I’ve been fine. Why isn’t anyone listening to my lived experience of just being a diversity hire on more than one occasion?” Then, the COVID-19 stuff happened, and at first, I was with the thing. Then, I saw over time that things weren’t changing, and I was like, “We can’t do this forever; come on, guys. This isn’t a good idea for the nation, the arts, for society. It’s just not good.”

BC: Do you think things can change in the mainstream entertainment industry in that regard? What would have to happen to bring it about?

C: I don’t know. My gut reflex is to say no. I think it is just going to keep spiraling down.

BC: Yikes.

C: There just isn’t a good feedback mechanism unless you’re talking about people who come in and say, “No.” That’s what is interesting about David Zaslav with Warner Bros. and DC, making some big, bold news over there. I think it’s going to take a bloodbath, people coming in who have the balls to say, “You’re fired. We’re not going to greenlight this horseshit. We’re going to go back to making money.”

What happens is a Tom Cruise comes along, who is sort of outside the system. He made a fuckton of money. He knows what the fans want – a good fucking movie! He knows what his job is. He is the real deal in so many ways, despite what his other beliefs may be! His job is to entertain the audience. I’m hoping that will send the message. I’m hoping Zaslav will come in and clean up the shop. They all need to go. Maybe in the business end, the market will have to force them to redirect. At the same time, they will have to keep on competing with people like me, like Geeks + Gamers, Nerdrotic, TikTok users, influencers, YouTubers, etc. All these people are on the same platform. I think more and more people will start to notice.

BC: When did you hear about Geeks + Gamers?


BC: What made you want to start your own podcast?

C: People kept asking me to do it! I guess I felt the need to talk to interesting people about an aspect that I felt people weren’t really talking about. I wanted to be an ambassador for the arts and shine a light on issues happening in those realms since the Libs have taken over the arts. It’s a nice hobby, and I’m enjoying it. I get to talk to very interesting people!

BC: Did you ever read comics? If so, when and what was your first one?

C: Yeah! I don’t know what my first one was, but I can tell you what my last one was before I kinda went off of comics. It was X-Men #40. I was very much an X-Men guy growing up. My mom gave me a box full of comics for my birthday once. I had trading cards and everything as a kid!

The newer stuff didn’t interest me. I was always finding myself going back to the older comics. And maybe that’s another reason why I wanted to speak out. Because I felt like I was watching the same kind of forces which had hollowed out the comic industry and caused a lot of division in the video game sphere, I saw it happening to the entertainment industry at large.

BC: Do you have a favorite IP, like Star Wars or Mission: Impossible?

C: That’s a tough one; probably Ninja Turtles. I had the toys and action figures. Ghostbusters would probably be number two.

BC: Do you like to collect anything? If you do, do you have a main focus?

C:  I wouldn’t call it collecting; as a kid, I had the action figures, but I was into pro wrestling too, so I had them banging up against each other and playing with them! I don’t collect anything nowadays.

BC: How do you ignore the haters?

C: I just ignore them.*laughs*

BC: What has been your favorite thing about speaking publicly?

C: It’s ironic, and maybe even in a subversive way. The more I say what I think, the bigger my reach grows. I also talk to a lot of cool people now. The more I say, “This is me,” the more and more I find people responding to that.

BC: They want genuine people.

C: I guess so, and you can’t really be that in show business.

BC: Can you talk about any upcoming projects?

C: I just released a podcast episode with Gina Carano, and there is a documentary I narrated called Follow The Science. It is about the exploration over the pandemic, over what happened, and to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I believe it is premiering sometime in late October, but they have a fundraiser to turn it into a docuseries.

BC: Do you have anything you would like to say to your audience? Anything for your haters?


Speed Round

BC: Favorite destination?

C: Tokyo.

BC: Lightsaber color?

C: Green.

BC: Hamburgers or hotdogs?

C: Hamburgers.

BC: Narnia or the Shire?


BC: Grocery shopping or ironing clothes?

C: Grocery shopping

BC: Gardening or going to the gym?

C: Going to the gym.

BC: What is your favorite breakfast?

C: Bacon and eggs.

BC: Favorite film?

C: Casablanca.

BC: Favorite cuisine?

C: American cuisine… steak!

BC: Linkin Park or Nickelback?

C: Fucking… I guess… I guess Linkin Park because everyone hates Nickelback, but I don’t know their fucking music.

BC: Favorite book?

C: That’s really unfair! 1984.

BC: Packing or unpacking?

C: Unpacking.

BC: Abba or Frank Sinatra?

C: Sinatra.

Questions From Twitter

Twitter: What actor and/or actress would you love to work with?

Clifton: Good question… there are multiple. I would love to work with Gina Carano. I think if we found the right vehicle, we could do something fun and special together. We would have a lot of fun doing it! An actor I’d like to work with… probably Chris Pratt. I feel like I would have a good time working with him. He’s good at what he does.

T: Chocolate ice cream or vanilla ice cream?

C: Vanilla ice cream. What does that say about me?

BC: I dunno; I guess you just don’t like chocolate?

T: Did you enjoy your episode of NCIS: New Orleans playing a Marine commander?

C: Dude, yes! Because I got to meet Scott Bakula! Such a great guy. I asked him for some acting advice; it was a lot of fun.

T: Will you sing some songs on your YouTube channel?

C: Yes, that is a very big priority of mine! It’s just that logistics are kinda tough for me right now.

T: Favorite outdoor activity to stay in shape?

C: Weight training, specifically squats!

T: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

C: Probably Frank Castle, aka the Punisher. I feel like he has one of the most tragic origin stories. I just feel bad for the guy, but at the same time, they are darkly funny. You never forget that he is a broken man with a rigid sense of what is right. I also like Thor. Dude, what am I talking about? Batman! He’s my guy! Strike everything I’ve just said… it’s Batman.

T: What do you do to relax?

C: Well, I shouldn’t be saying this, but I pretty much pack a bowl and roll a joint, listen to some good music, and chill out.

T: What are your favorite plays, fictional literature, and pieces of music?

C: Favorite play: Othello. Fictional literature: 1984. Music: I love all types! Right now, I’m listening to disco! I love opera, jazz, R&B. It’s hard to pick one piece of music.

T: Do you have a weakness for black British women?

C: Ugh. God. I do. It’s really bad. You always chase the ones you can never have.

T: Any talks with The Daily Wire for future projects?

C: I have some contacts there now, which is good. We shall see! I’ll be taking a trip down to Nashville at some point. Maybe I can link up with some of the DW people.

T: Why are you so handsome? What is your secret?

C: You’d have to ask my parents that. My mother chose well, and I’ve taken care of myself at the gym. I’m not a trainer, but I try to urge people to take care of yourselves. You don’t need to be a power builder; just stay active and stay healthy. Staying active and talking to people keeps you fit!

T: What YouTubers do you recommend watching?

C: Oh boy! My favorite is RazörFist. I don’t understand why he doesn’t have more subscribers. For political, Styxhexenhammer666. Strafefox for high-quality video games! It’s criminally underrated. Those are the ones I can think of at first. I also love Midnight’s Edge.

Thank you for your time, Clifton! You can find Clifton Duncan on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Click here to view his podcast!

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