To say that Kelsey Caesar is a wearer of multiple hats is an understatement. This son of Texas went from former Olympic hopeful and PAC-12 Champion, to starring in the first all-Black cast horror film for SXSW 2022.
As an accomplished actor, model and athlete, Kelsey Caesar is the literal definition of someone who wears many hats. Hailing from Houston, Texas, Caesar originally had Olympic dreams and trained in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 summer games. Ranked as one of the top track and field athletes out of high school, Caesar was a highly coveted recruit, receiving interest from schools such as USC, Texas A&M and Stanford just to name a few. He would ultimately end up choosing ASU, where he was a PAC-12 Champion for 4x400m.
The young, talented athlete soon realized that in order to fully pursue his goal of becoming an actor, he had to trade in those track spikes for movie scripts.
Caesar’s Hollywood journey first began in an episode of Friday Night Lights. Although his part was sadly cut in the series, he quickly grew into a rising star.
With over a decade of experience and acting, Caesar made his TV screen debut with the role in the 2007 biopic about rapper Mike Jones titled The American Dream. 2017 was a big year for Caesar, as it also brought him his first box office debut, starring alongside Chris Staples, Michael Irvin, and Jose Canseco in the 2017 film Slamma Jamma.
Today, Caesar has worked with major powerhouse networks like MTV and Disney, with one of his more recent projects bringing him to work with Director David Katzenberg on his new Disney+ series, Just Beyond.
The film introduces Cesar as “Tuck,” who along with his fellow recruits, break into a house of horrors and are forced to play games that will decide their fate. It’s set to show at the SXSW Film Festival March 14, 16 and 19, with a worldwide virtual screening March 15-17. The film is directed by Bill Posley, who is best known for his writing on Kobra and Keenan.
We caught up with this talented actor and athlete to discuss more in depth about this highly anticipated horror film.
How has your upbringing shaped who you are today?
My upbringing has shaped my life in so many ways. I grew up in a traditional middle-class home with my mom, dad, and older brother. I think the structure of my family made me feel like I could relate to most families I saw on ‘90s sitcoms. I was involved in competitive sports at an early age, participating in baseball, football and track which provided me with the determination to be successful.
What originally inspired you to train for the 2016 Summer Olympics?
I have always aspired to participate on the world’s biggest stage of any sports competition. I wanted to give myself one more shot before I pivoted to my acting career.
What made you want to trade in those track spikes for movie scripts?
I have always loved television and film. While training for the 2016 Summer Olympics Trials, I booked a film called “Slamma Jamma.” Working on the film took 6 weeks out of my training. Considering how competitive USA Olympic Trials are, there was no way I would be ready to compete at the exceptional level required to make the team. So, I hung up the running spikes and decided to dedicate my efforts towards a creative route.
Tell us more about your upcoming film “B**** A**”, debuting at SXSW.
B****A**” is going to be a fun thriller that the audience will enjoy. If you’re into shows and movies like Squid Games, Saw or slasher flicks, this will be something worth watching. I play the fun tough guy named Tuck. It was a fun experience and an honor to work with an all-Black cast. The film is considered the first Black serial killer movie of its kind.
What can we expect from the film?
I hope the audience leaves the theater excited and wanting more! The biggest take away is, considering this is one of the first of its kind, this could lead to more all-Black horror films being made. Opening more doors for more Black people in the business. Hollywood says this is a viable, money-making market with an audience.
What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?
I think the biggest challenge is making sure the chemistry with your cast mates is right. When the chemistry is off, the energy is off. Fortunately, for this movie, everyone just clicked.
Whether for actors or athletes, what advice do you have for young people who are just starting their careers?
I always say that if you want to do anything, focus and dedicate your efforts towards whatever it is, study and research your craft, and don’t quit. If it’s something that you plan to do for a living, understand as much about the business side as the craft itself.
What’s next for Kelsey Caesar?
I have another horror feature releasing this year! It is still confidential but stay tuned for that as well!
Cover photo courtesy Ben Cope
Leean Vargas is the Highlight Reel newsletter editor at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She is a concert enthusiast who loves traveling, photography, good food, and discovering new hangout spots in her beloved city, Austin, Texas.