When art calls, you have no choice but to answer and that is exactly what actor Reginald L. Barnes has done. This Omaha, NE native is a triple threat in the acting world, tackling television, film and theatre without missing a single beat. From starring in the Off-Broadway smash hit “Black Angels Over Tuskegee” to performing with the YouTube parody group ‘Key of Awesome’ to hosting various upscale events such as the OutMusic Awards to being nominated for Outstanding Actor in the 2011 DC Black Theatre Awards, Reginald is truly a modern-day Renaissance Man. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Reginald L. Barnes.
Who is Reginald L. Barnes?
I’m just a guy from Omaha, Nebraska, while in pursuit of his dreams , is making things as actor (first and foremost), event host, image consultant and dabbling in public relations. I am a brother, a lover and a son. I say please and thank you. I am a one of the nice guys.
Why New York?
I always knew I would not stay in Nebraska. It was as if I never really belonged there. My family would often say to me, “You are either going to end up in New York or L.A. We just know you’re not suppose to be here.” Actually, outside of Nebraska, I resided in Chicago from aged 11-17 as well as the five years in Houston. But New York is a whole other machine. New York is gritty, I can get around especially for my craft; I don’t need to waste a lot of time driving around, looking for parking and what not. I want to be able to get around at any given moment and to be able to hustle and New York is the place for that. And then my best friend of 17 years moved here a few months before myself so thatwas the drive I needed and soon followed suit. Besides , I had auditioned for a role in an independent film and it didn’t make sense for me to keep commuting between NY and Houston.
When were you bitten by the acting bug?
I have always been on a stage, of some sort, my entire life and so it was just natural for me to pursue this professionally. I am in love with all types of media: film, television, theatre and music. My parents did not persuade me into acting; it was something I sought out. It provided a vehicle for me to leave Nebraska and start anew.
What feeling do you get by being on the stage?
First of all, I love to see the reactions on people’s faces when I am in character. When I am on stage, at that moment, I feel as if I am in control; any words that escape my mouth makes me feel blessed to be sharing my art with others. I enjoy making people laugh and feel as if they can relate to the character or characters. In this industry there are two types of actors: Type A are the actors that are classically trained and Type B who can take a story and make it their own; I fall in the latter category.
Who were you inspirations during your youth?
Growing up my icons were actors like Danny Glover, Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington but I also dig cats such as Keifer Sutherland as well. In order to be able to play versatile roles you must be versatile in your choice of influences.
And meeting Samuel L. Jackson?
I just recently met Samuel L. Jackson and let me tell you he is one of the biggest influences in my life. I was born Reginald Leon Barnes, after my father, but I took my mother’s last name. I saw Samuel on Jay Leno one night and he said he wanted to distinguish himself since so many Sam Jacksons roam the earth. So I thought there has to be lot of Reggie Barnes’, I gotta be Reginald L. Barnes! I have to distinguish myself from other people. And every actor has to make sure that they distinguish themselves from other people. You’re in NYC which is a city of 8 million people. So back to the interview with Jay Leno; Samuel said that his ‘L’ stood for longevity, love, living..just a bunch of stuff. And I took that as a sign that I should keep my ‘L’. And I mentioned that to him and he just smiled and I got all choked up.
What is your favorite movie?
That is extremely hard to pick. I have to select just one? How about my top three? I am going to tell you anyways: Prince Under The Cherry Moon” and “Purple Rain” as well as “American History X.”
Who is your favorite actor?
Who is your favorite actress?
Viola Davis. Did you see her performance in “Antwone Fisher?” Amazing!
What is your favorite vacation spot?
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Who is your favorite person?
What is your favorite album of all time?
Prince’s “Parade: Music from the Motion Picture Under The Cherry Moon.”
What is your favorite meal?
Anything seafood! One of my absolute favorites is a pan broiled Halibut topped with shrimp, crab meat and white wine sauce, cornbread and mushroom risotto.
What is your favorite restaurant?
Luz Restaurant in Brooklyn, NYC. The cuisine is modern Latin American and it is absolutely fantastic.
If you held a dinner party which 7 people would you invite?
-President Barack Obama
-My grandmother Nellie Kelley
-Reggie Van Lee
Where do you see yourself in the next two years?
An Oscar and Tony nomination and in the next five years my very own talk show.
What advice would you have given yourself five years ago?
Take advantage of every opportunity!
To keep up with REGINALD, follow him on Twitter @reginaldlbarnes and at his website www.reginaldlbarnes.com.
Image credit: Maria Muthoni Newport (2009)