Sheaun McKinney had a roundabout way of being in The Neighborhood.
In one of the most anticipated shows this fall, The Neighborhood tackles race conversations about a white family moving into a black neighborhood.
McKinney plays Malcolm, a son in the black family that was firmly established in the neighborhood.
LRM Online sat down with Sheaun McKinney during a set visit to CBS Studios for an exclusive interview. He revealed on how he auditioned for the Marty role, but ended up with a more relatable Malcolm role. He also discussed about transitioning from cable TV show Vice Principals to a network show of The Neighborhood.
The Neighborhood will make its premiere on CBS on Monday, October 1 at 8 p.m.
Read our exclusive interview transcript below.
LRM: What drew you onto this project here for The neighborhood?
Sheaun McKinney: As I’ve said before, I got the audition to read for the role of Marty who is played Marcel Spears. I initially thought I couldn’t [play that character]. I was too old for that role. I couldn’t do it. Then my manager called and said they want you to come back in to read for the older brother. Being the horrible actor I am, I hadn’t read the whole script. I was like, “What? Older brother?” He was like go home, and read the whole script. I read that role and I immediately connected with who I thought Malcolm was as a person who just want it to be understood. And who did want to bring some type of peace to his household, to whatever his world was.
I met Jim Reynolds. If anybody’s ever met our writer, creator Jim Reynolds, he is one of the most genuine souls you’ll ever encounter. ‘m not trying to be cheesy or whatever, but he genuinely is. When I heard that brother talk, I got his concept of what he wanted to do with the show. Then I wanted to be on board.
LRM: Since you audition for Marty, but got Malcolm, who knew you relate more to?
Sheaun McKinney: Absolutely, Malcolm. I knew going in. During pilot season, actors have tons of auditions that you’re auditioning for. When I read Marty I was like, “Oh, it’s funny. But, I don’t think it’s anything that I can do.” So I really was just like, “Oh, I’ll go in and I’ll do my best.” My manager knew that I don’t think I can do this role. When I read the Malcolm character, I was like, “This I can do.” At that point, I was on board.
LRM: How was the transition going from a cable TV show like Vice Principals to a network where you may actually have to restrain yourself?
Sheaun McKinney: [Laughs] Well, let me tell you something, brother, that word you just used what you learn. Vice Principals, one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. When you do cable, they’ll let you curse. That’s the one thing that actors love-cursing. They also let us improv a lot. I have an improv background. I remembered when I came back from filming Vice Principals and I went to an audition for something. I was like, “Oh, I got to experience now I’m gonna go in here and just do what I do.” I started improv-ing in this audition that I won’t name. This kid looked at me like I slapped his momma. [Laughs] He had no understanding of why I would touch his words or whatever it was.
I learned a valuable lesson in network. Just shut up and read what’s on the paper. You know what I mean? [Laughs] Part of what I learned in network, you’re going to have to trust much more what’s on the paper. They’re trying to articulate their point in a way that you might not be able to express via cable. As the actor you have to make that switch and just understand that and be okay with it. I’m still learning that! I’m still learning on set sometimes that I want to say things, but I can’t. You can’t improv and do anything you want to do.
LRM: This show is going to touch interesting subjects.
Sheaun McKinney: Absolutely. As it should.
LRM: As well, it won’t pull punches here.
Sheaun McKinney: One thing about network is I realized that this show is going to do that in a way that may be more inviting for more people. I can’t sit in my little nephew or my cousin down to tell them to watch Vice Principals. They’re not ready for that type of language yet. I can sit them down and tell them to watch The Neighborhood. This show provides is it touches anybody can sit down in front of this show and watch it.
LRM: What message do you hope the audiences would get by watching your show now?
Sheaun McKinney: Communication. Simply put, the biggest problem in this country is we don’t communicate. Everybody has an opinion and nobody’s willing to listen to anybody else’s opinion. This show, through a very funny lens, you’re watching two families and two people with Max [Greenfield] and Cedric [the Entertainer] kind of be forced to communicate. The show is a microcosm of this world and that we live together in the same neighborhood or in this country. We live together whether we like it or not. Nobody can make anybody else leave. So you have two options. Get along and stop your bullshit or move somewhere where it’s only people that look like you.
LRM: I appreciate that. Thank you, sir.
Sheaun McKinney: Thank you.
Source: LRM Online Exclusive