Monday, February 9, 2009

Julito McCullum on Law & Order

Feb. 9 4:00pm on USA

It's a repeat, but if you haven't seen it, check it out.

Here's an old interview he did to promote the mini-series Miracle's Boys.
An interview with Julito McCullum

SN: Tell us a little bit about how you got started acting.
Julito: First, I started out as a dancer. I started at a school called Broadway Dance Center dancing hip-hop. My teacher sent me to a dance group called the Junior Knicks. We danced at the Knicks games during halftime shows. I started dancing with them. But then I wanted to do something different because I had been dancing for about two years and it was fun all the time, but I just wanted to venture out. I started acting. I got myself an agent, and from that day on, I've been auditioning. Then Miracle's Boys came. My life is good.

SN: Is Miracle's Boys the first really big thing that you've done?
Julito: I would say Miracle's Boys is the first thing that I like. When I first got Miracle's Boys, it was about a year-and-a-half ago and it was a pilot and everyone was so young. I was like, "I love these people!" Then I hadn't heard from them in a year and a half, which is a very long time, and I got all sad because I wasn't going to see my friends anymore. Then they called me out of the blue and said, "Julito, it's going to go down. We're doing it." And I was just ecstatic. I was like, "Yes, finally!" Then they told me Spike Lee would be directing it. I was like, "Wow!" I felt like my time had come.

SN: Jacqueline Woodson's book is the basis of Miracle's Boys. Why do you think it makes a good miniseries? What do you think sets it apart from other books?

Julito: I think it's good for a miniseries because kids my age and just kids in general are going to relate to it. It's about everyday life and what we go through, me and three young kids, growing up in Harlem. I think everybody will be able to relate to it and say, "That happened to me yesterday."

SN: Had you read the book before you started?

Julito: Yeah, I did read the book. Someone in my class is actually reading it now and she doesn't even know I'm in the TV show. The book is awesome. Jacqueline Woodson is an excellent author.

SN: Did you get to meet her?

Julito: Yeah, she came on the set a couple of times on the shoot. She came on the set during the pilot also. She's cool. I met her little daughter.

SN: So you read the book and you're playing the character Lafayette. What do you think you personally added to that character onscreen?

Julito: I think I added the coolness to Lafayette's character. He was just the kid that follows his brothers all the time and I kind of added that style to Lafayette, I think. He's the type of character that loves his family and loves everything about everything—baseball and the whole nine. He just loves being Lafayette and I think my character and I have a lot in common. He goes through the things I go through having four older brothers. That character's so cool.

SN: How did Spike Lee encourage and direct you? And also LeVar Burton?

Julito: Spike told me to "stay focused," to have that type of attitude and stay focused all the time. Practice makes perfect and I have to practice. He helped me out with that. LeVar Burton helped me out with the diction, making sure all my words were clear. They all helped me out in a certain way. They all gave me something that I could leave the set with and say, "Oh, all right. I may need this later in life." They didn't just come in and say, "You're going to do this." They all helped me out and understood that I was a kid. They were so cool. I think the five directors that we had were the best directors. We had Spike Lee, Ernest Dickerson, Bill Duke, Neema Barnette, and LeVar Burton, and I just think you couldn't have put any better directors on it.

SN: Are you in regular school?
Julito: Yeah, I'm in public school. I go to the Secondary School for Journalism in Brooklyn, New York. I'm trying be a writer in case acting falls through. I'll have something to back me up. I want to write my own scripts and movies and stuff like that.

SN: What do you like best about school?
Julito: What I like best about school is seeing my friends and working with teachers. You wouldn't really hear a kid my age saying that they like school, but I really like school. Not just for the lunch and gym. I like to do the reading and the writing and all that. I just like school. It's so cool.

SN: You mentioned that you attend the Secondary School for Journalism. What would you like to write?

Julito: I want to write movies. I like all movies, but there's always a part of me that's like, "It shouldn't have gone like that; it should've gone like this." I want to get to write my own movies and see an actor reading my lines instead of me reading the writer's lines. I give a hand to all the writers. It's really hard work for them. They have to make up the lines and if something is wrong, they have to remake it and stuff like that. I think that's cool.

SN: Do you remember what your favorite book was when you were a little kid?
Julito: When I was 4 or 5, my favorite book was probably The Cat in the Hat. That was my favorite book because it was just so funny and I really loved that cat. Even when the movie came out, I went with my little sister and my little brother. I think all kids around that age should read that book or see the movie. It was just an excellent book. That book was a beginning step for reading, I think for everyone.

SN: Yeah, because it makes reading fun.
Julito: Yeah. The Cat in the Hat makes reading fun. Green Eggs and Ham. All of Dr. Seuss's books just make reading fun. The first time I read The Cat in the Hat, I never wanted to put it down. I read it over and over five times. I was always like, "Mommy! Mommy, will you read it to me?" I always read it like it was my last time reading it.

SN: Now, do you have a favorite book? Or what book have you read in the last year that's really impressed you?
Julito: My favorite books right now are the Harry Potter books. Those books are awesome. J.K. Rowling is awesome. Those books are just like The Cat in the Hat. It makes reading fun. I never want to put the books down. The last one was about 800 pages and I read it in two days. And another book I read is The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy.

SN: Tell me something that you think your fans will want to know about you.

Julito: I think they would want to know that I'm just a regular kid. Even though I'm on TV and I'm doing all this big stuff, I stay humble all the time and I know where I came from.

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