Local actor and University of Southern Mississippi student Julian Walker recently began his publicity tour to promote the film “Blackbird,” appearing on such shows as “The View” and “Arise Entertainment 360.”
Walker, a senior theatre major, starred last year in independent film “Blackbird,” a drama detailing the life of a gay teen in a religious home in the South. “Blackbird” was filmed in Hattiesburg and directed by Hattiesburg native Patrik-Ian Polk. The film also stars Isaiah Washington and Oscar winner Mo’Nique. The film opens in selected theaters on April 24.
The publicity pull began after Walker first appeared on the cover of Factor Magazine. He left Sunday on a trip to New York City, temporarily leaving the Department of Theatre’s production of “Spring Awakening,” in which he appears as an ensemble member.
Mollie Betsch, a senior theatre major and Walker’s “Spring Awakening” cast mate, is enthused over his work in the play as well as his role in “Blackbird.”
“I think it’s wonderful that he’s able to do this movie and promote this film,” she said. “The faculty here is so accommodating of it and celebrating his accomplishments. He’s a quiet thunder; he’s going to take over Hollywood.”
Walker appeared on popular daytime talk show “The View,” where host Whoopie Goldberg asked him what it was like to work with Washington and Mo’Nique for his acting debut.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Walker. “This was my first film that I’ve ever done, so I was nervous. I was thinking that they weren’t going to like me, but the minute I stepped onstage, they were so (supportive).”
Mo’Nique praised his work and said, “I got the same feelings with this young man that I had with Gabourey Sidibe (of ‘Precious’ fame). He was so fearless and so brave to put it out there in its rarest form.”
Walker also appeared on “Arise Entertainment 360,” a show appearing on Centric TV.
He talked about filming “Blackbird” and his experiences on set. “One thing that drew me to this project was how I could relate to that character,” Walker said. “We filmed ‘Blackbird’ where I go to school and that’s actually where Patrick (the director) is from, his hometown, so I could really relate to being from a small town, having a religious background and also being openly gay myself. “
Lola Ogunnaike of “Arise Entertainment 360” called him “an overnight sensation” and asked what it was like to work with stars Washington and Mo’Nique. “Honestly, they were so welcoming and loving and the minute I met them both, they gave me the warmest embrace I have ever received in my life,” Walker said. “Have fun, that was the biggest thing they’ve given me.”
“Blackbird” opens in select theaters April 24. Audiences can also see Walker perform locally by attending “Spring Awakening” with the USM Department of Theatre, which closes on April 26.