Charm, charisma, infectious positivity, musical chops and acting ability — Titus Makin, Jr. is a multi-faceted artist who embodies all those qualities and more. You may remember Titus as one of the original “Warblers” on Fox’s hit show “Glee,” for three seasons. Based on the successful popularity of the “Warblers,” he was able to tour the world with the “Glee: Live Concert Tour;” a tour which eventually turned into a feature length docu/drama film. After Glee, Titus went on to star as the lead in the made for television movie, “Gamers”, and had a leading role in the TV movie, “A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song”.
Titus is poised to make an even bigger impact on audiences with his role on the CW’s highly anticipated sci-fi drama “Star-Crossed,” which debuts February 27th. The series follows an epic timeline of violence, deception, distrust, and revitalizing love when a persecuted alien on a future Earth, fights against the prejudicial treatment of his people. As “Lukas,” one of the series leads, Titus Makin, Jr. stars opposite Aimee Teegarden, Matt Lanter, Malese Jow and Grey Damon in what is sure to be a sure fire hit! It is his solid work in a bevy of high profile supporting roles like these which continue to turn the heads of critics and fans like that have established Titus Makin, Jr. as a young artist on the rise in Hollywood.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Titus Makin, Jr. to discuss his role on the CW’s ‘Star-Crossed,’ the challenges of bringing his character from script to screen, evolution as an actor, his musical side and much more!
How did you get started on the road to a career in the entertainment industry?
Interestingly enough, I was on the flip side of acting originally. I started with singing and dancing and my sister was the actor of the family. As I grew up, I went to her plays and started singing more and more. By the time I was a senior in high school, I thought “That looks like so much fun! I want to give it a try!” I auditioned for one of my high school musicals and the ball started rolling from there. I decided I wanted to go to performing arts school and I auditioned for a school in New York. I ended up getting in and the ball continued rolling! I just kept rolling with it!
Who would you cite as some of your biggest influences along the way?
I am such a family person, so my biggest personal mentors are my parents. When it comes to entertainment, Will Smith has been a huge inspiration to me! Family is the biggest thing though. Just watching my sister thrive and go for it and do an amazing job is something I find very inspirational!
A lot of people will recognize you from your role on ‘Glee.’ How did you get involved with the show and what effect did being a part of that terrific cast have on you?
That is an interesting story too! When I first got representation on the acting side out here, I had a sit down with my manager. I was coming from the world of music and dance, so I said “Hey! If you get the opportunity or there is a casting for ‘Glee,’ please send me on it!” Surely enough, a week and a half later, she called and said “Hey! You have an audition for ‘Glee!'” I ended up going in! I had to sing a couple of songs and do a couple of scenes and it worked out! They brought me in for the show and I was able to do it for about two and a half years! It was a great stepping stone and I got to meet great people and learn a lot! I learned a lot about hard work in the film and television industry! It was very cool!
Music and dance are a huge part of your life. What are some of your earliest memories of those elements? Are there any moments that really stand out to you?
When I was younger, I remember I booked my first background dancing job for a boy band called 112. I was able to dance for the opening act as they were on tour. That was huge thing for me! I was like “Oh my gosh! I am going to be like Usher!” [laughs]
One of the coolest and most exciting projects you are a part of is the CW’s highly anticipated series, “Star-Crossed.” For those who aren’t familiar with the series yet, what can you tell us about it and the character you play?
“Star-Crossed” is a sci-fi romance drama for the CW. It takes place in the future, 2024 to be exact. Aliens have crash landed on Earth and have been quarantined to an internment camp in our city. This is the first year they are going to integrate some of the alien teens into a public high school to see if we can co-exist. We are all the guinea pigs for this social experiment. It is an observation of the obstacles that come along with equality; which is extremely relevant in our day in age! Simply put, it is a futuristic twist on a modern day story! I play a character named Lucas. Aimee Teegarden plays “Emery” and Lukas is her best friend. Lucas is a human and I am pretty much the comedic relief for all the drama! There is a lot of stuff going on and my character is the tech guy, so every time something is going on and they need to hack into something, figure something out or solve a problem, I’m the guy they call! [laughs] I am the big cushion for all the falls!
How did you get involved with the series initially and was there something about the character that really intrigued you?
I got involved by my representation sending me out for an audition. It was one of my favorite pilots that I had read last season. That was awesome because sci-fi is one of my favorite genres. The CW is really branching into sci-fi this year, so I had read a couple and this was one of my favorites. It was a blessing that I was able to book it. When I was reading the character, I found he was extremely like me but extremely different at the same time. What drew me to him was the fact he was the comedic relief in a sci-fi project, which has always been a dream of mine. Honestly, watching Will Smith in ‘Independence Day’ had a big impact on me because of the way sci-fi and comedy were blended together. The way Lucas and I differentiate is that he is way smarter than I will ever be! [laughs] The terms I have to learn for this character and the day and age we are in is insane! It takes so much practice! There are times when I am like “What in the world does this word mean? I have never heard anything like this in my life!” [laughs] But hey, we grow together, Lukas and I! [laughs]
As you mentioned, we are able to see a bit of your own personality through Lucas. What do you think you brought to the script and character that wasn’t in the original script?
That is an interesting question. If you want to be literal, it was a completely different type they were bringing in for the role. I was definitely the only one of my type cast there and the role ended up going to me. It was pretty clear which way they were going at first but they switched it up! I guess they were interested in the natural urban-esque quirk I brought to the character. [laughs]
You are part of a tremendously talented cast on “Star-Crossed.” They say you learn a little more about yourself with each new project. What did you think you have walked with from your time on this project to date and have there been any challenges that stand out to you?
I definitely walked away with more experience. This was the first time I was able to be a part of a project from the very beginning. Normally, I jumped into a role where I was joining a family as a recurring character or guest star but this time was the first time I was able to be there with the writers creating from the beginning. That was really awesome and an experience I will always cherish and obviously hope continues! Working with the cast and seeing whole really professional people can be was amazing. There was plenty to take away from this experience.
Do any fond memories spring to mind when you look back at creating the first season of “Star-Crossed?”
There were a lot of pranks! One of the other castmates, Grey Damon, who is a great guy and I were able to do a lot of fun stuff. The was also a lot of singing! Malese Jow, who plays Julia on the show, are constantly singing and harmonizing! There was definitely a lot of goofing around and good times!
You have had the opportunity to play a diverse group of characters with the projects you have taken on. What do you find yourself looking for these days when it comes to the characters you take on?
I found characters stand out to me when they have a certain realness to them. There are some characters that are very charactery, who are so evil or brooding that there I almost no other way to do them. I really like when you get to see a characters colors throughout the script. When I read a script that has that, I am very excited by it. I get to explore all parts of myself and that is what really attracts me to a role!
Is there a particular process you go about when taking on a new character to bring them to life?
There are a lot of different way to go. I played a role not too long ago where I was a cocaine addict. That required a lot of research to learn about the quirks, mannerisms or way a person would hold themselves. If it is something heavy like that, the role could require research. If it is a little TV friendly, then I just let it settle in and imagine how I would do it and connect to the role within myself.
Is there a particular role or genre you are anxious to tackle in the near future?
Yes, actually! I would love to be in a period piece. It sounds intense but I love things like “12 Years a Slave” that have a solid weight to it! It sounds so exciting to me!
Are you the type of artist who also dabbles in writing or has aspirations to direct in the future?
Yes! I do a lot of writing. As I mentioned, I write music and I plan on being back in music heavily this year, so there is that type of writing but I also write scripts. Along with a lot of my other acting friends, we team up and put together scripts that will hopefully one day be made. I would love to be on the writing side! I am definitely not much of a director! [laughs] I can see that now! As much as I respect and appreciate the talent and patience behind directing, it is just not something I have the patience for! [laughs] However, writing is something I would love to dive into in the future!
When it comes to your craft, how do you feel you have evolved as an artist through the years?
I really think I have evolved through experience. By people giving me opportunities, trusting me with their work and being able to go up there and do it my way, I have really grown. You just learn as you go! If you do it that way, there is no choice but to grow! You make some mistakes but if you are doing it well you are constantly learning something new! It is all one big learning experience; which is awesome!
Looking back on your career so far, is there a role you consider your best work or are you one who considers their best work as something that lies ahead?
Exactly! I’m definite the second one! I don’t feel I have yet to do my best work but I would probably never feel that way because I am a really harsh critic of myself. I am happy with what I have done and I move on but try never to watch my previous work because I am embarrassed to see myself. I definitely think my best work is yet to come!
You mentioned focusing on your music this year, which is terrific! What can we expect out of you in that realm?
My genre, I classify it as singer/songwriter soul. It is a drop between John Mayer meets John Legend. It is very acoustic. I have been writing with some producers and have a show coming up on February 12th at The House of Blues. I am just getting everything going again now because I have been pretty busy shooting but now that we have some down time, I have been able to get my gears turning again!
Other than music, when you have downtime, what do you like to do to let off a little steam in your free time?
I love long boarding! When I say longboarding, most people always say “Oh, you like to surf!” I am like, “No, no! On wheels!” It is like a long skateboard. I love it! It sounds so California of me but it’s true! I love heading down to the beach and playing volleyball with my friends and hang out. That is typically what I do! If I am not doing any of the other stuff to entertain myself, that is typically where I am at least twice a week!
What is the best advice you can pass along to young actors looking to make their career in the entertainment industry?
I would pass along the word “Perseverance.” People will come and go but they have to give you a chance eventually if you are the only one sticking around! They will get to you eventually! Perseverance is extremely important. Something important for me that I have always kept close is my faith. I am a Christian guy, so I pray to God and trust that everything is going to be fine! Those are definitely the two things that have kept me sane!
Are you involved with any charity work we could help you spread the word on?
Absolutely! I am involved with To Write Love On Her Arms. It is an awesome foundation that supports kids who struggle with suicide, addictions, abuse and more. They help in so many ways from getting kids off the streets, keeping them safe or letting them know they are not alone. It is an awesome organization and you can learn more about it at www.towriteloveonherarms.org.
Terrific! One last thing before I let you go, Titus! Where are the best spots for people to connect with you online?
Awesome! I want to thank you so much for your time today, Titus! It has been a pleasure and I am we are excited to help spread the word on all of your work!
Thanks so much, Jason! I had a great time talking with you. Take care!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.