Canal Street's Kevin Quinn Talks Segregation in Chicago, Faith, & Being a Young Star

Multi-talented actor and singer/songwriter Kevin Quinn chatted with Rapzilla about his upcoming role in the movie “Canal Street,” his music career, and how he stays grounded as a young star.

In “Canal Street,” Quinn plays Brian Sudermill, the main antagonist to lead character Kholi Styles.

Quinn says Brian is from the North side of Chicago and really into music. He’s an egotistical type of kid, plays guitar for his classmates, and revels in the attention he gets from it. Outside of school, he’s a drug dealer, and notorious for selling the cheap stuff.

Brian is the type of guy who is always looking for the competitive edge, so right away, Kholi becomes a target.

Essentially, Brian is everything that Kevin is not.

“I try to be the best self I can be,” said Quinn. “Brian definitely has a lot of growing to do.”

Part of the reason why Quinn was drawn to the role was because of how out of character it was for him. He usually plays the family friendly role, and this opportunity was a “darker” turn for him.

“It was a no brainer. I read the script and knew I had to be on board,” the Chicago-born Quinn said. “The film does a strike a chord with people from Chicago. You have Kholi who’s from the Southside of Chicago and there’s such a clash with the Northside, it paints a picture of just how segregated the city is.”



Quinn says he knows of this segregation first hand. He lives in Los Angeles now and says the vibe from area to area is totally different than Chicago.

“It is one of the most segregated cities I’ve ever spent time in,” he revealed. “I lived there for 17 years and never once have I gone further than Hyde Park, and that’s still only a quarter of the city.”

Another aspect of the film that drew him in was the powerful message and the strong team behind this message.

“One of the beautiful things about doing these indie projects is they usually do have a very strong message. Growing up I used to watch all kinds of independent features. I do think there’s an element of realness that you get from indie features that you don’t get in big scale productions,” said Quinn.

Going back to what he said about it being a “darker” role, despite previous gigs, Quinn feels at home with drama.

“For me, I definitely see myself as a drama guy. I did Steppenwolf Theatre and a lot of Shakespeare growing up. That’s my wheelhouse - dramatic classical theater training. Whenever I get an opportunity to do that, that’s more challenging for me as a person and who I am.”

As for the Christian themes in the movie, Quinn is familiar with them because he grew up in a Christian home. He said he used to go to Sunday School but eventually made the decision to stop.

“I believe in a higher being for sure, but I haven’t really defined my religion, I’ve let it define me, and whenever I see something, whether it be guidance or approval, I find myself praying,” he explained. “I definitely see myself as a spiritual person without the confines of a particular religion.”

For Quinn, acting is only part of his life equation. Being an actor is like being a cover artist in his mind. It gives him the opportunity to put his own spin on someone else’s work and bring it to life in a fresh way.

“I enjoy acting just as much as I enjoy doing music,” shared Quinn, and part of this love is thanks to the opportunities afforded him by Disney.

“I worked for Disney for three years and it was probably the most amazing years of my life. They treat you so well there and I never felt like an employee,” he said. “It really provides us with a global platform and it’s incomparable to any other platform you can get at that age.”

He continued, “They hand pick people who can sing and act. It’s such a smart business decision. It set the stage for both sides of my career.”

Quinn said he’s working on a song for the “Canal Street” soundtrack. Amir Windom, the music director and one of the film’s co-producers, is getting the record together.

“He and Rhyan have been talking about having me work on a track for the film's soundtrack,” said Quinn. “I have my own personal project I’m working on too. It’s pretty much finished and I produced five of the tracks. I chose the best five or six out of about 35.”

The 20-year-old describes his musical style as acoustic pop, in the same vein as Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes.

“I am happy to announce that I am releasing a music video for “Gotta Shape Up” (Out now, watch below). On top of that, a new EP and working on a song with RedOne that I think will be the next summer anthem.”



As for future acting roles, Quinn can’t reveal much about what he’s working on next, except one is a family Disney type show and another film, not yet confirmed, would be a dark independent feature.

His dream role would be with director Christopher Nolan in a thematic drama superhero film like “Dark Knight.”

He’s also a big fan of Harrison Ford and would love to work with him someday.

And while Quinn would love to play his son, for instance, he’s already pretty busy being the son of his parents and trying to make them proud by making the right decisions to the best of his ability.

“I’ve always been an under the radar kind of guy. I do my best to stay out of trouble, and I work hard in my career always,” the young actor said. “Any trouble I’ve ever gotten in is pretty basic stuff that will get you in trouble with your parents and not newsworthy.”

About the Author
Justin Sarachik has been writing about music since 2010 reporting and editing for The Christian Post, BREATHEcast, Broken Records Magazine, and his own blog TheSIBandGuy. When not conducting obscenely long phone interviews he jumps around on stage with his progressive rock/rap band Process of Fusion in Staten Island, NY.

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