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All American’s Kareem J. Grimes Discusses the Growth of Preach and Having John Singleton as a Mentor

The CW’s All American depicts a professional high school football player’s journey from Crenshaw to Beverly Hills and the social class struggle the move brings. The hit TV show is currently in its fourth season and continues to captivate its audience each week.

In the high school drama, Kareem J. Grimes plays Cordell “Preach” Simms, a gang member who over the seasons changes his life around. In a recent interview, Kareem talks about the growth of his character and what a show like All American means to television.

“I don't think we've seen this type of development of a character, especially a Black character on TV like this because Preach is such a complex character. In the first two, maybe three seasons, you see this guy is just a hardcore gang member and the whole nine. Then season three comes, and he finds out that he has a child,” Grimes said. In elaborating about how becoming a single father has changed Preach’s character arc, Grimes shares, “I'm really cleaning up his act, and taking on that father figure role, becoming a #GirlDad and also getting the opportunity to become a tutor.” As was shown over the last few seasons of All American, Preach has been able to connect with the young Black men in South Crenshaw as a tutor because they are able to relate to him.

While Grimes is serving as a mentor and tutor on the small screen, he too has experienced strong mentorship through working with the late Academy Award-nominated director John Singleton. Grimes first worked with Singleton on the 1991 film Boyz N The Hood, which was Singleton’s debut feature film. Grimes initially started out as an extra in the production, however, Singleton pushed the young actor to try his hand at reciting lines. But beyond giving him his start in the business with acting duties, Singleton pushed Grimes to go further. “He definitely played a big part in hammering education and just learning every aspect of this business, not just being an actor, but really expanding your brand, and learning other things,” Grimes said. Grimes later went on to work with Singleton on his film Baby Boy, where he served as an assistant to the director, as well as given a role in the film.

While starring in All American, Grimes has found time to take on other projects. He also stars as Erick Davidson in the ALLBLK streaming series For The Love of Jason, which also stars Trell Woodbury. The series explores a Black man battling the image of being single as a Black man in his thirties. “I just thought it was just dope for me to be able to step in a role outside of Preach and Little Red, just to show my range,” Grimes said about taking on a role different from what he’s known for. “With For the Love of Jason, I'm a married man, newlywed, and I'm a principal at a school, and still trying to navigate being a newlywed. But as you guys can see from my role as Preach on All American, he is going towards education which is ironic,” Grimes added.

Photo Credit: Jordan Vision

He expressed that he looks for roles that have meat to them as well as roles that are good positive representation for his nieces, nephews, and family. Grimes will also star in the upcoming film Adam + Eve with Teck Holmes and Brian Hooks.

Beyond television and film production, Grimes has been moving into the tech space with his apps Truso and FacePop. Truso, which will launch in June, is a Clubhouse-inspired app that will combine audio and video allowing users to speak through avatars if they don’t want to be on camera. He joined Truso with Matthew Newman, who serves as CEO, and also includes Sway Calloway, two-time Olympian Miki Barber, and Hall of Famer Terrell Owens as investors. FacePop allows users to create emojis from photos of their faces to use in text messaging and is currently available for download in the Apple Store. To create the app, Grimes partnered with Bervick Deculus and Jerome Henry. Grimes plans to hopefully become a game-changer in the tech industry.

We look forward to seeing more of Grimes on our TV screens and seeing his apps on our phones. Follow Grimes on Instagram.

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