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Sinqua Walls Discusses "American Soul" and the Importance of Black Media

From playing 50 cent's son on Starz hit show Power to starring alongside Angela Basset in the Netflix original Otherhood, Sinqua Walls stays working. When we first interviewed Sinqua for the cover of our Power Issue, he was in the middle of filming the first season of BET's American Soul, where he plays Don Cornelius. After watching the first season and now getting started on the second season, Mr. Walls is embodying the character but he is also helping to shed light on the complex life of Soul Train's media mogul creator. After last week's episode of American Soul, Editor-in-Chief Eric K. Thomas spoke with Sinqua about playing Don Cornelius, the state of the country and the importance of Black media.

On preparing for the role of Don Cornelius, Sinqua says the preparation is the same as if he was preparing for any role but the process was different for this one.

The process was different. Because anytime that you are telling the story of a character that already existed, you have to make sure that you honor the family more than anything. It was important to me to tell this man's story authentically but to make sure that his family appreciated it because that was their father, their grandfather, their husband. It's like you were almost seeking their approval more than the audience because if they cosign, that's the ultimate cosign.

The same racism that was experienced during the time Soul Train was airing decades ago is still happening today. Sinqua says, "nothing has changed."

Nothing has changed from yesterday to today. That's why I think everything is happening in this moment for the movement because you are seeing people frustrated and everything is becoming combustible. The time is now for change. Because of the advancement of social media, you can't lie to the public anymore. You can't pretend to float on the line, you have to pick a side because your whole message from start to finish, will become exposed.

Sinqua chose to protest and be on the frontlines to show support and solitary to the Black Lives Matter movement.

I felt like this is the first time in my lifestyle as an adult where I could actually take that step where it was so current to me and I could be present to do it. Also, to show the significance that we have positive protesting and activism. It was surprising to me and sad to me that there were people who were coming to be a part of our movement but weren't really a part of our movement and disguising themselves as allies.

Don stated that Soul Train shows Black folks the way Black folks were meant to be seen: strong, powerful, and beautiful. Do you think media today is providing an accurate depiction of how Black folks are meant to be seen?

I think that for several years, no. I think now because of economic relevance and commercial relevance there's not a request to depict us accurately, it's almost a demand. When you don't control the person distributing, you can get your voice manipulated. But now, we have enough people who are on the forefront and we can control the distribution and say we are going to make sure we are represented.


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