Monica Cost

*”Keith Robinson.”  “Who?”  “You know the guy who played Jennifer Hudson’s brother in Dream Girls.”  “Oh yeah, I loved  him in that movie. What is he doing now? ” Sound familiar? I remember talking to many women after the movie came out, and Keith’s character usually came up as someone they adored. Even though most had not heard of him before the movie, he was not a total newcomer to the industry.

Robinson had been on several television shows and big screen productions like, ER, NYPD Blue, Fat Albert (the movie), American Dreams, Over There and Half & Half, among others before portraying CC in Dream Girls. As a further indicator of his hustle and determination to do whatever it takes to make it in Hollywood, Robinson was Green Lightspeed Ranger in the early 2000s. Yes, the green power ranger.

I had the pleasure of meeting Keith at a BET event in 2010. As a Brand Strategist, I have to say that his personal brand upon first meeting was congruent with my first impression from seeing him on television. Having heard about Robinson’s emerging music career through social media, I thought it might be interesting to hear more about this multitalented individual. While working in California last week, I scheduled some time to sit down with the actor and vocalist to discuss his life.

Before sitting down with him, I surveyed a few people to learn more about his public perception. The comments ranged from his fantastic smile to his flawless skin, from his warm disposition to him feeling like the boy next door and last (but not least) wanting to see more of him in romantic comedies or dramas.

We settled for lunch at Cafe Primo West in West Hollywood. Keith’s pick. Having not seen him in almost 2 years, I went for the formal handshake (when I’m typically a huger, as is most of Hollywood) and Keith gave an appropriate Hollywood hug. Figures (smile). Lesson here is always go with your first mind. I  noticed Keith had splint on his left pinky finger, which I later found out was an injury achieved by playing in a flag football game.

I have to say that this was one of those interviews that felt more like an easy conversation. After a few minutes of small talk, I asked the most common question, “how did you get here to Hollywood. I learned Keith’s journey into entertainment began with a record deal with Motown while he was part of a group called State of Mind. Unfortunately, as with many other artists, the project never came to fruition. Other members of the group moved on, Keith stayed in LaLa land to pursue  his dreams.

We’ll get back to the music. Our next subject was around his thoughts on the roles he’s played to date. I asked Keith what his biggest role was so far. He said Dream Girls. When I asked him what role was the most meaningful, he said it was his role as Private Avery “Angel” King on the TV series, Over There, which (by the way) was nominated for a Primetime Emmy. Over There was a series taken from the headlines about the intense situations and extreme conditions of the soldiers during the war in Afghanistan. Why? I asked. Keith said “because it affected people and told the stories of real people in real life situations.” Affected.

Ultimately, the real life situations may be just the thing that caused the show to ultimately be cancelled due to low ratings. While the show was heartfelt and meaningful, it was a constant reminder of a world that we’d rather not see up close and personal; despite our gratitude to those who choose it. While the show was cancelled, the affect is lasting. Robinson still receives respect and gratitude from soldiers for the authenticity of his character and the series. Affected.

On Hollywood. “It’s a challenge to stay positive in an industry that doesn’t necessarily reward the best person for the job and where talent isn’t the deciding factor, but I manage to do it”, says Robinson. He went on to say, that he enjoys and looks forward to playing roles that are multi-layered, like those that can be portrayed in autobiographies. I asked him whose story he would like to tell. He named greats like, Jackie Robinson, Nat King Cole and Donnie Hathaway. All people who we were “affected” by.

Inspiration. Given his naming of the greats above and my work with authentic living, it is no secret that his answer to what inspires you? was “other people who’ve accomplished great things, and amazing moments that move me and leave me affected.”

The Songbird. To some, Keith’s music career is unknown; however, it is definitely one his first loves. He says that his goal in his music is to let God lead and to get back to love. “Through the rhythms of our lifestyles, self reflection, healing and relationships, good music can be made,” says Keith. Be sure to look out for his new single Loving You dropping on August 21, 2012. Affected by love.

The Juicy Stuff. . .on love and relationships. Yes, I had to ask for the ladies. What kind of woman is right for Keith Robinson?, I asked. “They have to love God more than me, be driven and passionate because they will understand me better also, understanding because this life can be very demanding, beautiful, cares about her physical body and takes care of herself, have a positive outlook on life, humble and (finally) someone who is affected.

The Keith Robinson Affect. While Keith Robinson has a common name, he is certainly not your run of the mill talent in Hollywood. I get the sense that he is among them, but not of them. He’s a man on a mission to affect those around him through his talents. He’s not desensitized to the human cause in a world that tries to demand that you rise above it and look down from on high.

Hit him up on Twitter @KeithSings or on Facebook @Keith Robinson.

At the conclusion of our interview Keith said “thank you, this was very therapeutic”. Affected.

Monica Cost is Chief Brand Strategist and Founder of Evidently Assured, an authentic brand strategy firm and the Live Your Truth Experience (L.Y.T.E.). She is the Author of the new life changing book on living an authentic life called, “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to live an authentic life with awesome sensations.”  Email her at:  [email protected]. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost.  www.monicacost.com. Live true!