Read our exclusive interview with Titus Makin, Jr., who recently appeared as Mickey O’Malley in the second direct-to-video sequel in the ‘Cinderella Story’ series, ‘Once Upon a Song.’ The actor and musician also landed his first leading role, as Zach Taylor, in the latest NBC Walmart/P&G family film ‘Game of Your Life.’ Makin, Jr. is also playing the recurring part of David, a friend of Darren Criss’ character Blaine and a Warbler member of the Dalton Acad, on ‘Glee,’ for the second concurrent season. He discusses with us, among other things, what attracted him to the roles, and how working in films differs than working on television.
ShockYa (SY): You play Mickey O’Malley in the new comedy ‘A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song.’ What was it about Mickey that convinced you to take the role?
Titus Makin, Jr. (TM): So many things, actually. I’ve never actually been able to play a role so close to myself, and this definitely was that role. Like the personality, Mickey’s so outgoing, and he likes to dance. There are just so many things about Mickey O’Malley that are like me and my personal comfort zone, which was great to switch it up. In the past, I’ve played a nerd, a gang member, there’s been so many different things, and he definitely fit right in with me, which was cool. Plus, it’s about music, which I love. I love doing things involved with music.
SY: As you said, ‘Once Upon a Song’ features a musical aspect; it follows the vocally gifted Katie, who’s played by Lucy Hale, as she’s forced to sing tracks so her untalented stepsister, Bev Van Ravensway, played by Megan Park, can win a recording contract. Having played David on ‘Glee’ for the past two seasons, did the film’s musical element appeal to you?
TM: Oh yes, absolutely. Plus, Lucy is phenomenally talented. I was hoping the director (Damon Santostefano) would write something in it so that I could sing with her, but it wasn’t appropriate for my character. Yeah, it definitely attracted me to the role, knowing that it was about dancing and singing, and it was at a performing arts high school. It’s definitely something I’ve been comfortable with for the past year.
SY: ‘Once Upon a Song’ is the third movie in the ‘Cinderella Story’ series. Were you familiar with the previous two installments, 2004’s ‘A Cinderella Story,’ starring Hilary Duff, and 2008’s ‘Another Cinderella Story,’ featuring Selena Gomez, before you began shooting?
TM: Yeah. It was actually cool how that worked out. I had happened to watch the one with Hilary Duff, the original one, a long time ago, and I liked it a lot. I thought, that was cool, that was a nice little twist to the Cinderella story. Then upon booking this one, I went back and watched the Selena Gomez one, and I just wanted to catch myself up. They’ve all been very good, and I’m happy to be a part of this one.
SY: What do you feel differentiates ‘Once Upon a Song’ from the first two films in the series?
TM: Well, they all kind of have a different twist to them to connect them to the Cinderella story. This one is definitely a little bit more current, because things are big with ‘Glee,’ and the upcoming show ‘Smash,’ with all the singing. This one captures that, and definitely puts that one into today’s hot zone of what’s going on. That definitely puts the difference in there. It’s actually very up-to-date.
SY: Speaking of ‘Glee,’ what has the experience of playing the recurring role of David been like?
TM: It was amazing, and hopefully there will be some more episodes coming up. It’s great, the cast works together really well. All the crew works together, and you really get to see behind the scenes why it’s such a special show. Everyone’s super kind and super sweet. It’s a great show.
SY: Your last appearance on ‘Glee’ was the November 8 episode, ‘The First Time.’ Do you have any plans and interest in returning to the series?
TM: Yeah. (‘Glee’ creator) Ryan Murphy, the main writer of the show, definitely keeps us on the edge of our seats. I don’t really know, he’ll tell us before it happens if we’re coming back or not, or if our roles are getting larger, but he’s really kind. On tour this past summer, Ryan was telling us he definitely wanted to have us on it, and to come back as often as possible this upcoming season. Hopefully he’ll stick to that, and we’ll be back.
SY: What are the similarities and differences of appearing on a television series and in a film, and do you have a preference of one medium over the other?
TM: Well, I do like the way television works, just because you know that you’re character is going to have a storyline that you can work consistently for a couple of months. But the thing about film that I like is that you’re able to be a character for a certain amount of months, and then drop it when the film’s done. You can move on, and embrace a new character. With TV, you kind of have to be the same character for the same season, and eventually, you want to change the storyline. At least with film, you can jump back and forth a lot.
SY: You also recently appeared in the family movie ‘Game of Your Life,’ in which you play Zach Taylor, who wins a scholarship to the Digital Institute of Game Design. What was your reaction when you found out you were cast as the lead character?
TM: I was ecstatic (laughs) It’s my first lead lead. I’ve been the lead before, but this was like, wow, I’m going to be on camera the whole time. I was a little nervous, overwhelmed. But I knew that I could definitely handle it. I went in full-force, and it worked out as well as I hoped it would. It was definitely a great first experience of being the ultra lead, and hopefully they’ll be many more to come.
SY: How did you prepare for the role of Zach?
TM: They flew us out to Atlanta. Since he likes gaming design, he has to go to design school, actually. They put us in classes, taught us all these terms and how to use the computer. It definitely gave me a new respect for video games. When I see them now, I realize how much work goes into them. That’s pretty much it, I just applied myself in class. I wanted to get a hold of the character, because this guy I played knows everything about video games.
SY: ‘Game of Your Life’ focuses on the consequences of the choices we make, and the importance loyalty plays in making good decisions. Do you think viewers can learn from Zach’s decisions?
TM: Absolutely. The great thing about the film is that it deals with real-life situations, and the ones that happen to almost everybody. A lot of productions will tackle specific issues, that may not happen to everybody on a daily basis. They really handled that well. I definitely think people will learn from the choices he made-betraying his friends, and trying to choose money over friendship. Or not trusting his family enough, and listening to his dad’s advice. There are so many things that we do on a day-to-day basis that we don’t even realize.
SY: Would you be interested in filming a sequel to ‘Game of Your Life?’
TM: Oh, absolutely. I love NBC and Walmart and P&G films. They’re super clean, have great story lines. I would be on that in a heartbeat. That would be amazing.
SY: Who are your idols, both in acting and music? Do you look up to anyone specifically?
TM: For acting, people who know me know I’m a huge Will Smith fan. I also love Kevin James. In music, I’ll put it into two categories; two women artists I love are Adele and Jessie J, they’re amazing vocalists. Two men artists, I love Usher and Michael Buble-he’s really awesome.
SY: Do you have any upcoming musical or acting projects that you can discuss?
TM: As of right now, there’s a film called ‘So This Is Christmas,’ but that’s not set to come out until December 2012. There’s no music involved there.
Written by: Karen Benardello