Akeem Jamahl Mair is definitely an emerging actor to watch out for in 2020! He has booked several principal and leading roles in various student films. These include some well-known and popular remake titles such as Hannah and her Sisters and Good Will Hunting. Additional appearances include Limbo, All about the Money, and Initiation. He’s currently under the management of Commercial Talent Agency.
Akeem was born on September 16, 1988, in Pasadena, California, to entrepreneur Erol James Mair and Queen Alice Mair, a public service professional. Akeem was named after Eddie Murphy’s character in the box office hit Coming to America. He is the oldest of four siblings.
Akeem first became interested in acting as a child at Linda Vista Elementary school in Pasadena, California, performing in many school productions. “I fell in love with the excitement and reactions my onstage talents had on people. To be any character I wanted to be, gave me escape from my everyday life.” He then attended John Marshall Fundamental High School in Pasadena, California, receiving his High School Diploma in June 2007. Having a solid educational background was huge for his parents.
Since graduating high school, Akeem has taken college courses at Pasadena City College in pursuit of earning a business degree to become a financial banker. Everything changed when a loyal customer at his former daytime job commented, “You have this huge charismatic personality that radiates positive energy in people, are you an actor?” Since that day, Akeem made the decision to pursue acting as his passion and career.
At Columbia College of Hollywood productions, Akeem was involved in two lead roles of “All About the Money” as Jim, a lowlife who gets killed over never paying back his debts and “A Wonderful World” as the homeless man, Frank Simmons, who gets a second chance at life. At the University of Southern California, he booked leading roles in “Spotted” as Todd, the remake of “Born Fourth of July” where Akeem plays Jerry Levine’s character, Steve Boyer. At the University of California, Los Angeles, he booked leading roles in “Initiation” as the BKE leader Brad, “The Old College Try” as a robotic inventor named Anthony, and “Adagio” as a gym instructor named Marcus.
Akeem has worked for CBS and Comedy Central on the hit show “NCIS: LA”, and “Key and Peele.” Additionally, he has landed principal roles for live performances across major Southern California Universities. He has also appeared in national television commercials for eHarmony, The Clippers, and most recently for The Dominguez Firm and has played the lead in numerous music videos. Additionally, he performs in high-traffic original content on the web in numerous roles such as Allistair, a vampire seeking to exterminate vampire hunters, in “The Blood of the Dead” and he has appeared on the Youtube channel “Girls Going Viral.” Most recently he appeared on an episode of The Ellen Show which garnered over five million views.
Whether he is bringing life to characters in film and television, on small and big screens, or in high-traffic original content on the web, Akeem’s upbeat attitude and infectious energy towards every project and role he takes on is definitely a step towards stardom.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Akeem to discuss his journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:
Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
At first, I had my mindset on becoming a financial banker because I saw Michael Douglas’s character and lifestyle in the movie, “the game.” I saw his 2000 BMW 740i, his custom suits, the excitement in the office, and a maid at his house… I was blown away. Plus, I loved math and punching the numbers in a calculator so I figured that being a banker is my dream job. Little did I know while working at Ralph’s grocery store, a loyal customer would change the course of history for me. I remember being a cashier and her coming into my line with a sad demeanor. It seems something was bothering her so I did what I normally do with any of my customers which is brighten their day up. I said hi, “it’s good to see you again, did you find everything okay?” She said, yes I did thank you!” I said, “I usually see you smiling but whatever you’re going through I know will God rescue you!” “He never gives you more than you can handle!” After the transaction, I said, “have a bless day!” “I hope to see you again soon.” Immediately she paused and finally looked up at me for the first time and I could tell she had been crying. she replied, “Are you an actor?” I said, “No. Why do you ask?” She said, “Because your energy is filled with so much positive energy. You move people by it. You lifted up my spirits after I just lost my house in a foreclosure. Thank you!” Her reply shocked me. After she left I went home that day and wondered, What would my life look like if I was a successful actor? I thought about how I’ll be able to help my family so much more and how I can infect millions of people with the same positive energy. That night I searched ‘how to become an actor’ and it said most start as an extra on a movie set. So I called Central Casting in Burbank the very next day and here I am.
What do you like most about acting?
I just grew up with this love of being in front of the camera. Most of my family and friends are a bit terrified and want to always look their best but for me it was different. I felt like I always treated the lens of the camera like a best friend of mine and in that space, I totally just let go of life and be free from all of the worries I deal with on a daily basis. I love the idea of jumping into another person’s life and taking a break from my own reality. Each of the characters I play have their their own life and story. Something about playing other characters makes everything I’m going through in my life disappear. I can let go of my own problems for a change and take on new ones. It’s kind of the Bible saying, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3. Instead of judging a person, I rather jump in that person’s shoes and see what it’s like to see life out of their eyes and understanding. To see how they’ve dealt with their own problems and that creates a new perspective for me.
Can you tell us about your latest project?
I plead NDA! But trust me, when it comes out you’re gonna love it! What I can say, is that it’s an upcoming project that features my dad. I’ve never thought in a million years I’ll be able to do my passion and also bring my family in and experience it with them. My dad is not an actor at all but all of his actions came straight from his heart. It was a powerful project and there was a real moment my father and I shared. I forgot about all of the camera operators capturing the whole moment, it was surreal. Afterward, the owner came rushing down to hug me because he too had a similar experience with his father. I didn’t expect a breakdown in tears like I did with all the cameras in my face, but it happened out of nowhere. I am used to holding things in and not letting others inside so you could imagine my shock as the tears started pouring out. The other actor in the scene was frozen, he didn’t know how to react to something like that. This project definitely brought me closer to my dad as we are now talking as often as we can. The experience changed me. It allowed me to see the things in my life that scares me the most and go straight after them. Acting became a healing moment for me and one of my projects that I’ll never forget.
What’s the biggest challenge in your chosen career path?
Being persistent and aggressive all the time in activities that benefits my career. Even when you’re burned out and tired, and you have an audition to do, you have to get it done. And don’t be afraid of doing things by yourself. If people on your team are busy or don’t have the time to help you, you gotta learn to be strong and do it yourself. You’re gonna hear, “I’m busy,” a lot in this industry. You’re gonna hear, “sorry, we went with the other actor or actress for the role but we wish you the best in your future endeavors.” You’re gonna hear, “sorry we are not taking in new clients at this time.” Despite all of that, you have to stay positive and confident. nobody gonna tell you that when you really need it at like 2 am. So you have to be your biggest motivator and most reliable person you can trust.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
It happened when I was in acting class at the time. I swear my phone kept buzzing every 5 minutes like crazy. My friends and family kept blowing up my phone up with texts like, “you were on The Ellen Show??? Call me!” They were thrilled to see me on the recurring humor segment called “Speak The Lyrics.” A show where one of Ellen’s writers walks up to a complete stranger and begins speaking to them in song lyrics.
I swear I had no idea it was on TV because I was in a class, ‘On-Set/On-Camera’ breaking down being realistic with your actions in a scene taught by David Rountree. I originally had no idea I was even being filmed for The Ellen Show. A couple of months earlier, I stopped at Barnes and Noble in Burbank. I notice a bunch of film crew standing outside so I asked one of the crew members, “What’s going on?” None of them claim they knew any information about what’s going on. I walked in and checked out some books and was on my way out when I notice a 2pac record and stopped at the record section. That’s when Lauren appeared.
I remember Coach Mike’s lessons of being completely confident and don’t disagree with what anyone says while their improving. Next thing I know, I was signing some papers and it airs on TV, Ellen calling it, “The best episode she’s ever seen!”
It was definitely a moment to remember and has been a huge exposure for my career. It generated over 5 million views on Instagram and even landed in the Instagram feed of my future agent, Sarah Angeli from Commercial Talent Agency. The timing was perfect because I had just submitted my headshots and resume to her last week. So when I walked into her office for my agent meeting, she had my episode cued up on her computer. She was like, “I just saw this yesterday and here you are!” She played it again and we both smiled and laughed. I’ll never forget that experience, it was God’s blessings written all over it.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
I’ve met so many incredible people. One of them was LL Cool J on the set of the TV series “NCIS Los Angeles. I wasn’t supposed to be his body double but the one they hired was super late to set and the director walked up to me said, “hey can you help us out?” I was like “sure why not?” He said, “great you’ll be a cover for LL Cool J!” I was shocked. Apparently LL Cool J who was still getting his makeup and outfit checked out by the wardrobe manager and makeup artist. We filmed a scene of me sitting in his black Dodge Challenger while waiting for my partner to come out of the building from meeting one of his informants. It was awesome being in that car, had my hand on the steering wheel and it felt like this was what I was born to do! As the scene finished, here comes LL Cool J walking up to me. I was shocked at first because I didn’t realize he was so tall. I’ve always seen him on television and figured he was my height. He shook my hand and said, “great job bro I appreciate you covering for me.” It was such a great moment because I was being praised by somebody I listened to as a kid.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
To win an Oscar! That is my ultimate career goal and the only future plan that I have. So everything that I am doing now is to put myself in the position to win. If I have to stay up at night to practice and study, that’s what I have to do.
Outside of acting, my plans are to become a global icon and activist. I want to be a role model for kids and inspire them to go after their future dreams too. I want to fight for justice and peace all around the world. I just want to inspire the entire world with positivity like Martin Luther King Jr, Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Michael Jackson, 2pac, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, etc.