Julito McCullum may not be a household name, yet, but he is definitely on his way. This 16-year-old actor is breaking some serious ground and building up quite an impressive resume. As one-fourth of an adolescent crew on the show, the young thespian command of stage is mature beyond his years. With a recent guest appearance in Ludacris and Mary J Blige’s controversial video “Runaway Love”, the budding star is quickly becoming television’s most recognizable new faces. Taking a break from balancing career and school, the Brooklyn native sat down with ULM to discuss his recent success, his Latino heritage and the struggles of a child actor.
I know you started acting when you were 13. How did it all begin?
I started out dancing. I did two shows with Alicia Keys and I was a dancer for the Knick City Kids. I coached them too. Me and my mom decided that we both wanted more for me. I didn’t want to be in the background all the time. I wanted to start a new hustle and that was in acting. I was always good at imitating people and my mom said, “Why don’t you try acting?” You know, because that’s all it (acting) is, imitating. So she got everything rolling for me.
Tell me a bit about your ethnic background, as well as your background in general.
My father was Colombian and my mom is Panamanian. I’m very proud of my heritage. I grew up in Brooklyn. My father passed away when I was younger. He was a drug dealer, so you know how that goes. I was middle class.
So does your background help you with your character on “The Wire?”
Some aspects of my life are the same as my character’s. I grew up in the hood, just like Namond, around some of the same people that he gets to experience. I mean, you got the drug dealers, the dude everybody looks up to in the hood, your class clowns…it’s basically the same.
How do you balance school with acting?
I go to regular public school and my mom gets my agent to set up interviews after school. It’s tiring, but I love being on the grind. Sometimes it’s hard to study and go to auditions and interviews, but it’s nothing. Before I got into this industry, I knew what it would be like. I am ahead in school, so it’s 60% acting and 40% school.
What about college?
I definitely want to go to college, but after I graduate high school, I want to fully concentrate on acting. I want to be an entertainer though, rapping, acting, dancing. But when I do go to college, I want to focus on something other than acting, like journalism or basketball.
Who is your hero?
I look up to my mom. She has been on the grind for a long time. She has seven kids, so she’s always worked hard.
Is acting your dream job?
Definitely. I want to do this forever. I have never been to acting school, but when I am in school, I will focus on something just in case this doesn’t work out.
Is there anything else you want your fans to know?
I am the spokesperson for Apollo Theatre. I go around to different schools and talk to the kids there. It’s not like a motivational speaker, it just shows that I am a regular person and they can talk to me. And, it’s definitely a blessing to be recognized and to have so much love out there.