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Sinqua Walls Will Not Be Boxed In

Sinqua Walls Will Not Be Boxed In

Starring in White Men Can’t Jump and The Blackening this summer with another in time for the holidays, Sinqua Walls wants to deliver performances that shake you up and always keep you guessing. He’s never the same character twice, and it makes his projects thrilling to watch. 

I first encountered Sinqua Walls as the young Vernon Boyd III on MTV’s Teen Wolf. He was handsome, and he was Black on a show that inhabited an extremely white genre. As a gigantic nerd for the show, I had the opportunity to meet Sinqua Walls at the fan-run Howlercon. I was stepping up for a photo op and had my hands full of a tea set I’d brought for a prop. I stumbled a bit coming in, and Walls lunged forward to make sure I didn’t spill anything. 

I was instantly enchanted. He was tall, dark and handsome and willing to nerd out with me about Teen Wolf or working with Naturi Naughton on Power. I’d have the pleasure of running into him several more times, and each time was a delight. 

The meaning of the name Sinqua is “one who is desirable and has focus.” The name couldn’t be more apt for the seasoned actor. “Acting was my thing,” he tells me (you can hear the joy even through the phone). “Acting is the thing that I wake up every day finding joy from. It’s the thing that brings me back to myself; it’s my peace.” He loved sports and was a gifted athlete, but he knew that basketball was risky and had an expiration date to it. Walls decided to concentrate on acting, and he was ready to go all in. 

It was easy to see that he loved the craft, but I wanted to know why performing? He was thoughtful and dove a little deeper. “I watched this movie called Radio Flyer as a kid so much.” I was familiar with the 1992 classic starring Elijah Wood and the idea of movies being your sitter when Mom had to work. 

“Shoutout to my Mom. I was raised by a single mother, and when she worked she had very strict rules,” Walls explains with the annoyance and appreciation of any kid who actually did understand once they grew up. “I couldn’t leave the house when she was gone or I’d get in trouble. After a while I would start to watch the movie and just start acting out the scenes to entertain myself. I would do all of the parts and the blocking. It was my first acting game. It was interesting walking into theater, and we’d actually do those exercises!” 

After Teen Wolf and Power, Walls went on to play in a variety of roles. He was the first major Black character on Once Upon a Time as Lancelot, and he also appeared in The Breaks. In 2019 he secured his first series starring role as Don Cornelius in American Soul

The series was short lived, likely due to the pandemic, but without the delay he wouldn’t have received critical acclaim for his role as Kwame in Nikyatu Jusu’s Nanny or had a chance to play alongside Succession’s Brian Cox in Mending the Line. I ask Walls what his ratio of hard work to raw talent was. He chuckles a little before his answer, then sighs a sigh of relief because a good actor knows it’s a combination of both, with a little luck thrown in. 

“That’s where I’m so grateful for the foundation of athletics in my life,” he says. “My coach would always say, ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.’ So the reality is that I don’t know if I’ve ever been focused on how talented I was; I was more interested in the process. I think that every great creative has to fall in love with the process of getting better.” It’s a lesson that’s worked well for Walls, garnering him roles that people want to see. 

Through it all, Walls has never forgotten his roots. During the convention where we met, Walls spoke about a cookbook he was doing with his grandmother — his biggest cheerleader and greatest influence. He was curating her recipes to share with the world. When I ask about the status, he replies gleefully. “It’s still in the works! I’m in the testing stage now, and I’m hoping to present some on social media to see how people feel and respond to them. That’s my heart! I talk to her every week, and even when I call her late at night she still picks up. She and my mother always made sure my environment was shifting and I could feel comfortable around all types of people.”

Walls can flit seamlessly between urban roles like Power to mainstream films like Otherhood, and his family’s influence can be seen on screen where he appears comfortable and confident. He tells me about taking more of a leadership role on the set of The Blackening.

“[Director] Tim Story goes on my iconic wall. He was one of the first Black filmmakers I saw do something high level when he directed Fantastic Four. He was already such a hero in my eyes and when I walked in he created so much ease.I felt like I was at a family reunion.” He tells me about his role. ““Nnamdi is a leader, and it’s one thing Tim and I really talked about a lot. You know that idea of when there’s something going wrong, there’s always that one person that steps up and says, ‘Alright, I’m going to get us to the finish line’? That’s “Nnamdi. It was funny because Tim said he instinctively felt like I would be that person.”

In Hulu’s White Men Can’t Jump, Walls had a chance to combine his loves of basketball and acting. “From top to bottom it was one of my most favorite experiences of all time!” he says excitedly. “I was grateful to be a part of the reimagining. I felt a huge responsibility to make sure I lived every day in the present and gave it my all. I wanted to make sure I was a teammate and asset on set to my cast, my crew, the production, the studio, all of it.”

You can also keep your eyes peeled for Walls this winter in the Netflix film Carry On, where he’ll star alongside Taron Edgerton. It’s not unusual to want the best for such a hard worker. He’s strong and proud, as well as kind and relatable. When you sometimes hear about actors having tantrums, it’s nice to see someone succeed who has their head on right. 

White Men Can’t Jump is streaming now on Hulu, and The Blackening opened in theaters on Friday, June 16, 2023.  

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