INVINCIBLE : An Interview with Nicoye Banks
By Wilson Morales
According to his bio, Nicoye Banks is an actor on the rise. Born and raised in New Orleans, Nicoye has not been a stranger to art and culture. He embraced the craftsmanship of public speaking and the performing arts through Speech and Debate forensic competition at De La Salle High School, earning top honor awards on city, state and national levels. This direction and teaching came under the expertise of Tommye Myrick, which ultimately led to his performances of various characters in the theatre production of, “The Colored Museum.”
Following “The Colored Museum”, Nicoye was submissive to relocating to New York, where he studied at the Gene Frankel Theatre. Nicoye began performing in off - off Broadway productions, which gave him the humbleness and discipline of the craft that many great actors attribute their success to. With dues having been paid, Nicoye began expanding his horizons, thus leading him to “Law & Order” and various shorts and films, including a role in the indie film “G” with Blair Underwood. Though theatre is and will always be his first love, he is ready to be exposed to larger audiences through film and television. Most recently, his skills and charm caught the eye of studio executives at ABC’s Diversity Casting Showcase where he beat out 1,500 actors to make it to the final round of auditions. Currently featured in the hit film, ‘Invincible”, with Mark Walhberg and Greg Kinnear, Banks is finally getting the attention most actors want that will hopefully land more work in the business. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Banks goes over his role in “Invincible” and being an actor in the industry.
What role do you play in the film?
Nicoye Banks: I played T.J Banks, a veteran defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles who gives Vince Papale a hard time coming onto the team.
How did the script come to and what was the audition process like?
NB: My manager submitted me for two characters in the film, the Ronnie Sampson and T.J Banks character. the process was hard b/c it was definitely about show and prove. can i embody the 70's feel, look, and attitude, and can i actually play. there were football tryouts that took place! a few drills one of the coaches came in to put us through. I'm athletic, so I thoroughly enjoyed that!
Did you play football in high school?
NB: I did not play football in high school. In fact, i never played organized football...except for flag football.
Did you have to do any physical preparations for the role?
NB: Absolutely!!! I soon as I found out there was going to be a football tryout, I began to change my workout regiments, simple pitch and catch about 1 1/2 a day, and I studied some tapes of Defensive backs/ and Wide Receivers..When I got the 2nd callback for the football tryouts, I turned up the skill drills because I anticipated what was to come... I was right!!! When I earned the role of TJ, I went bananas!!! (with my training..as far as I could take myself, before our official training camp, which was a different ball game!!!)
How was working with Mark Walhberg?
NB: Mark Walhberg is very easy going, cool, and laid back. The work environment was fun. Not only that, but he's very generous..we used to have cookout 3-4 times a week after filming outside his trailor!!! The football boys, and day players.
What inspired you to become an actor?
NB: My 6th grade teacher, and Michael Jackson. Completely instrumental. It was a poetry contest that I ended up placing 1st, playing Travis in “A Raisin in the Sun”, and winning a talent show doing Billie Jean, to a TEE...that set me off!! All that in the same year.
How challenging has it been for you to get work?
NB: Getting work is the challenge!!! It is the climb on the side of the mountain...and it has been trying, sometimes exhausting, frustrating, and motivating. But in my mind, I know, in my body I feel, there is NO stopping, because I still have a long way to go...and I've come a long way; so the choice is easy..keep on pushin’. I had seen you in "G" a few years and the film took forever to be released.
Did it have an effect on future roles for you?
NB: No, it didn't really take an affect on me. You have to have really thick skin, and an enormous amount of patience. Things happen when they’re suppose to happen, almost never when you want them. The wait made me feel anxious and aggressive for the next project.
What have you learned so far in this business?
NB: I've learned that work never ever stops. You can always improve, research deeper, and ask more questions. You elevate, but you never really arrive! You must keep those things and people who ground you sacred and secure.
What sort of roles would you like to do?
NB: I like dramas. I like stories that stir up emotions, alter your perception of things a bit, so any character that's outspoken, has strong convictions, and some type of evolution. It doesn't matter what side of the line the character stands on.
What's next for you?
NB: Sky's the limit. I will being doing a play through Tupu Kweli, the theatre company I am a member, in early 2007, and “Pride and Glory” comes out in 2007 as well, film starring Ed Norton and Colin Farrell. More films, more films, and more films!!!!