Why Keiynan Lonsdale Loves Himself, And You Should Too
ICYMI: Keiynan Lonsdale’s has had a bit of whirlwind year, and we’re only a meager four months in. From starring in the history-making, box office bonanza that was Love, Simon, to the recent release of his newest music single, “Kiss the Boy”—Lonsdale, one of our favorite artists from land down under, has officially staked his claim in the realm of Hollywood.
Hot off the release of his new music, Keiynan was kind enough to take the time to chat with us here at Milk about what he’s been up to in recent months. Keep reading for a glimpse into Keiynan’s childhood musical inspirations, what it was like to film Love, Simon, and the prospects of his first full-length album.
Keiynan embodies Hollywood’s traditional understanding of a triple-threat—he’s a dancer, a singer, and an actor. While Keiynan’s professional focus has certainly turned more towards acting in the past few years, his creative roots have entrenched themselves far beyond just his accomplishments on the big screen.
“Until I was 12 or 13, all I cared about was dancing,” says Keiynan. “I was obsessed with Michael Jackson, from a very, very young age. I think was two years old when I saw him on TV for the first time, and that was it, that was my life set out for me. I just wanted to dance on stage with Michael one day, and be the best that I could be. I still have all his costumes that I performed in that my mom would make.”
You might already recognize Keiynan from his previous acting gigs, like his starring role on the CW’s The Flash, or his role in The Divergent Series. However this year, Keiynan arguably scored his biggest break of all—as the character Bram in the film Love, Simon.
Sweeping the nation for its depiction of a gay teen romance with a comedic twist, Love, Simon re-contextualizes coming-of-age tropes of high school films (á la Clueless or Fast Times at Ridgemont High) through the lens of a closeted boy looking for connection.
“The whole experience, from start to now, has been incredible,” says Keiynan. “I felt very welcomed by the cast and the crew, and it was just a fun—it didn’t even feel like we were shooting a movie, because it was a relatively small film. It was a very homey, home-like environment, and we just fucked around but at the same time, there were really important heavy things, but because everyone was very passionate about the subject matter, it kind of came to life in a very organic way. The response has been so overwhelming, and I think it just proves that it’s the kind of film that we needed. I’m just honored to have been a part of it.”
With so many different artistic interests, Keiynan explains that he allows his instincts to guide him through his creative processes that come along with each new project he takes on.
“I suppose I just try to lead with whatever right at the time,” says Keiynan. “There are some points in my year where I’m able to focus on them together, and there’s other times where I really have to specifically choose—to just hone into music or acting depending on the project. I listen to my instincts a lot, and let that lead me to what my focus is going to be on. Generally, if I were to describe myself as an artist, I’m just someone who loves to explore as many avenues as possible, and share what I’ve learned through music or acting, or dancing.”
I listen to my instincts a lot, and let that lead me to what my focus is going to be on.
Keiynan’s latest single, “Kiss the Boy”, is a lo-fi inspired pop jam layered over a lush, bouncy beat. Keiynan’s vocals are smooth over the verses, and the undeniable catchiness of the chorus will sear itself into your memory even on the very first listen. “Kiss the Boy” is a celebration of same-sex love, with Billboard certifying it a “queer anthem” on the track’s day of release.
Keiynan, who came out as queer last spring, describes the process of writing “Kiss the Boy” as one that drew inspiration from his personal experiences far more than other songs he’s written in the past.
“I guess a long time ago, when I was writing, I used my imagination or other people’s stories. It was before I had enough of my own, before I realized I had enough of my own personal shit to play off of,” says Keiynan. “This song in particular, I’ve reached a point of such self-acceptance and it was sort of cool for me. You can hear it in the song, as much as it is a celebration of love, it also shows that you get through going through that doubt and insecurity and questioning. I just wanted to appreciate the up as much as I appreciate the down.”
Despite his clean, new-school sound, Keiynan’s musical inspirations border a little bit more on the old-school side.
“I grew up listening mostly to pop and R&B, and more recently, I guess I’m getting more inspired by artists that are delivering a similar message of rebelling against this rigid world that we’re in,” says Keiynan. “People like David Bowie, and more recently, I’ve really started falling in love with the Beatles. It took me a while , but I’m finally here, I finally understand what they’re saying, and why their music is so special. I just love people who make music to bring us closer together. I think that’s the coolest thing ever.”
I just love people who make music to bring us closer together. I think that’s the coolest thing ever.
Despite the massive moves that Keiynan’s already made in 2018, he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
“We’re working really hard at the moment on writing an album,” says Keiynan. “So that’s going to be a lot of my focus this year. Still acting, of course, but I just really wanted to give myself the time and energy to do music because it’s not something I’ve been able to do. It’s sort of always been on the side—instead of a priority. I’m really excited to just dive into it.”
For Keiynan, above all, life is meant to be enjoyed.
“I also just want to travel a lot this year, ” says Keiynan. “What I’ve realized is that, while yes, I want to work super, super hard, I still want to hang out with my friends and enjoy every year. Even if I don’t achieve exactly what I set out to achieve, I still had an amazing time and I learned a lot. It’ll just be a balance I think, I think that’s really important.”
Images courtesy of Keiynan Lonsdale
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