Fourteen years ago, a very talented brother decided to do something that so many other talented people do–move to the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. [Cue Jay-Z & Alicia Keys] Not everyone gets to live their happily ever after, but Nicoye Banks was one of the lucky ones.
When he said goodbye to his swampy, sweaty New Orleans home and hello to the fast-paced freakshow that is New York City, he introduced himself to a career that would slowly, but surely unfold. Banks received a partial scholarship to study under the late Gene Frankel–who’s directed and taught pioneering stars like Sisely Tyson, Lou Gosset Jr. and James Earl Jones. Banks was certainly amongst amazing company and a few months, felt ready to tackle acting as a professional for the rest of his life. He was committed! Under Frankel’s advisory, Banks was sent to audition for a role in and Off Off Broadway play and landed the gig. Since then, his resume grew rapidly, boasting stage plays such as, Zooman and the Sign, A Hatful of Rain, Death of a Salesman, Trapped, Same Train and The High Priestess of Dark Alley; and films such as, G, Invincible, and his latest works Brooklyn’s Finest and The Green Zone. He even has TV shows under his belt–Law & Order & One Life to Live. This is only a few of the many accomplishments Banks has been able to make since his start as a child actor on stage. He is definitely breaking ground all around him and counts his blessings daily. That’s why he’s made it this far–his humble attitude and hungry spirit continue to push him into his blindingly bright future!
I know you made the move to New York to pursue acting. Do you feel you’ve been able to keep a lot of your down-home southerness with you?
You know what, I do. First of all, I got home quite often to make sure it stays in me. I check on family & my son. It helps. In the south, New Orleans in particular, it’s slower. It’s a little laid back Cadillac style. There’s still intensity because it’s hot & humid down there. It’s serious. Coming here to New York–the motion takes you. Every once in a while you need to have the ability to slow down & collect your thoughts. If you weren’t born into this type of flow, it could spin you into a tailspin.
What do you say your journey was like thus far?
It’s been a slow, steady progression. Of course, at some point early on, I wished the big bang theory applied to me and my career–BOOM and it just happened. But, that didn’t happen. Now that I look at it, I’m glad that it did take slow, steady steps because each and every level is solid ground. My stage career, being a child of the theatre, is solid. I can always go back to the theatre and step on that platform and be very comfortable. I spent some time on that level, doing those plays. Now that it’s elevating to bigger budget movies & things like that, well, for a while, it was short films. I wasn’t getting paid anything & there was a four or five person crew with everyone doing everything. I’ve paid those dues. Sometimes films didn’t come out at all. There were films that I’ve had two lines, versus 25. Now that things are progressing along, it’s cool to have a nice stroll to the top, where ever it is. I get to see all the flowers & enjoy them.
Do you prefer screen acting over stage acting?
I don’t have a preference. I’ve gotten more comfortable with screen acting. That’s definitely a new medium. Imagine you’re a pot of boiling water. Doing a stage play, a pot of water stays on the stove for two & a half hours, bubbling & cooking the whole time. In the film world, you have the water, but you need to stay boiling even if it’s taken off the flame & then put back on the flame. They need that water boiling in exactly three minutes. Translation, in the theatre world, backstage we’re in character. We’re living that life because in that full two hours, whether we’re changing costumes, makeup, hair, we’re still in that mode–still hot. In films, you might not shoot until later on in the day, it’s in the middle of the script somewhere. You have to know where you are in that movie to be able to deliver that information. There’s a lot of distractions, people walking around, but when you sit down & hit that mark, now you’ve got to be boiling water. After all of the sitting in the trailer, eating at the Kraft table; Now they need you scalding hot.
There’s so many child actors that fizzle or get eaten up by the industry. How would you describe your transition from being a child actor to being a credible adult actor?
**read the rest of the interview, including Nicoye’s response, here.**