Eamonn Walker is an actor’s actor. Not only does he have an affinity for his craft but he respects the potential power of influence that a true thespian has on the world through their characters. As one of the few Black British actors to impact American film, television and Broadway, Walker’s diverse roles have earned him loyalists. We’ve loved him as a righteous Muslim on HBO’s defunct prison drama, “Oz,” and a no-nonsense 1960’s blues singer in “Cadillac Records.” Nowadays, Walker has joined the cast of of the new NBC drama “Kings” as Reverend Samuels, the spiritual advisor to the Royal family. ESSENCE.com caught up with the chameleon to discuss his new role, why religion isn’t Black and White, and how his Caribbean heritage has shaped him as a man.
ESSENCE.COM: On “Kings,” you play Reverend Samuels, the spiritual adviser to the Royal Family, the Benjamins. How is it playing the confidant to so many powerful people?
EAMONN WALKER: The truth of the matter is that Samuels has this close relationship with God and has special gifts that he wasn’t always in control of it and simply did his best to interpret the will of God. The first show is an introduction to everyone. The story and drama of these people’s lives are compelling.
ESSENCE.COM: There have been whisperings that this show is about the Bible and God. Is that true?
WALKER: No, it is not a religious series. Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say that many of the names are biblical and that as humans we exist and carry on with our everyday lives and understand that God is very much alive, whether you believe in one or not. As a spiritual advisor, I make people aware that there is an alternative world to the one we live in, because God is always speaking to us, but we are not always listening, but Reverend Samuels does.
ESSENCE.COM: Speaking of spiritual advisers and leaders, as a Black Brit, how do you view the role of America’s Black preachers and churches?
WALKER: We have Black churches in England, but for me, I don’t have a thing with any particular religion. I believe I can have a conversation with God anywhere if I need to. I have conversations with God as I’m walking down the road. I don’t believe in limits, whether it be religion, politics or otherwise. It’s really important in terms of my character, Rev. Samuels, to know that he’s not connected to any religion but simply has a direct red light to the man because of spiritual awareness. The reverend has a church, but for him it’s about your faith, not any particular religion or sect. In this world, there is no color barriers or gender issue because the women are just as powerful as the men.
ESSENCE.COM: We’ve always admired that you are just as connected to your Caribbean culture despite the fact that you grew up in England. Did you ever struggle with finding your spiritual identity?
WALKER: I had my identity crisis early on as a teenager as most kids do, trying to figure out where I belonged and where I came from. My whole being and everything that I do has my British and Grenadian sides running through me. Until I went to grade school, I spoke with my Caribbean accent as my mother did but quickly received my first taste of discrimination when kids made fun of me and made my life pretty miserable, because we all know how cruel kids can be (laughs). So I learned to speak like everyone else with a North London accent. Again, my need to be connected with my people has always been in me and I recently returned from Grenada where I met my father’s side of the family for the first time and it was beautiful. In every fiber of my being, knowing my people has always been important to me and I’m glad I was able to meet my extended family.
ESSENCE.COM: Family is all you got and you have that kinship with your fans as well. What do you hope they’ll learn from “Kings”?
WALKER: I hope they get from the show that they see themselves and get to see the side of themselves that they can’t reveal to their friends, but that they face in the mirror every day. Sometimes we pray for things that aren’t necessarily gray because we are human, but “Kings” shines a light on the fact that our spirituality is not just Black and White but gray and I hope that’s something folks will walk away with.
Check out Eammon Walker on the premiere of NBC’s newest drama, “Kings,” on Sunday, March 15.