Actor Lex Lumpkin is a series regular in Freeform’s hit series The Watchful Eye, centered on a young woman who is thrust into a world of old money and deadly secrets. Lex plays the role of Elliott Schwartz.
Lex began acting when he was 10 years old, playing the role of Stuart in the Indiana Repertory Theatre production of Stuart Little, followed by appearing as the Duke of York in Shakespeare’s Richard III, and later as Travis Younger in A Raisin in the Sun.
He transitioned from theater to television after landing his first national commercial for AT&T, followed by the starring role in Nickelodeon’s All That.
Outside of acting, Lex is passionate about addressing mental health issues. Lex wrote, created, and directed The Hidden Truth, a documentary focusing on untreated depression and other mental health issues among teens and how it affects them. The film was the Official 2022 Movie Selection for the ‘Black Feedback Film Festival.’
CelebMix spoke with Lex Lumpkin to find out more about how he got started in acting and his current role as Elliott Schwartz in The Watchful Eye.
What inspired you to get your start in acting? Was there any particular moment that stood out to you?
My love for acting stems from my passion for creativity and performance, which I developed at a very young age. I have always had an innate desire to create and express myself in different ways. In the second grade, I wrote my own book series. Even as a child, I found myself drawn towards storytelling, creating stop-motion videos, and performing in front of my family and friends.
The moment that stands out to me as a defining point in my interest in acting is when I was chosen to play the lead role in my school play. I was in fourth grade, and I remember feeling incredibly nervous and excited about the opportunity. However, the moment I stepped onto the stage, I was filled with a sense of belonging and joy that I had never experienced before. It was a feeling of being completely in the moment and being able to connect with the audience on an emotional level. After that experience, I knew that acting was something that I wanted to pursue seriously. I started attending local theater workshops and joined a drama club at my school. These experiences only fueled my passion for the craft even more.
You play “Elliot Schwartz” in Freeform’s drama series, ‘The Watchful Eye.’ Give us some insight into your character and in what ways you relate to him.
Playing the character of “Elliot Schwartz” in Freeform’s The Watchful Eye has been an incredible experience. Elliot is a complex character with his own unique set of traits and quirks, and I was drawn to him right from the start.
One of the things that I relate to about Elliot is his ability to connect with people. He has never met a stranger and has a natural talent for making others feel comfortable and at ease. I have always prided myself on my ability to connect with people, and I think that is something that Elliot and I share. Another aspect of Elliot’s character that I can relate to is his old soul. He has a certain maturity and wisdom that is beyond his years, and I have always felt like I have an old soul as well. I think it comes from my love for classic films, literature, and music, which has always given me a deep appreciation for the past.
In terms of differences, there are a few areas where Elliot and I diverge. For instance, Elliot smokes, which is something that I personally don’t do. Additionally, Elliot can be a bit nerdier than I am, especially when it comes to navigating his way around the ladies. While I enjoy technology and geeky hobbies, I’m a bit more confident when it comes to socializing with women.
Overall, playing Elliot has been a wonderful opportunity for me to explore a character with depth and complexity. While we share some similarities, he is his own unique person with his own set of challenges and struggles. It’s been a pleasure to bring him to life on screen and I look forward to seeing how his character develops over time.
How do you go about putting yourself into Elliott’s mindset and personality?
To get into Elliot’s mindset and personality, I like to approach the character from multiple angles. Firstly, I analyze the script and try to understand the situation that Elliot finds himself in. I try to imagine what he might be doing before and after the scene and what his overall goal is. I also consider the dynamics between Elliot and the other characters in the scene, and how they might be feeling toward him.
Another important aspect is getting into Elliot’s headspace and understanding how he thinks and feels. I like to think about his backstory, his motivations, and what makes him tick as a character. I try to put myself in his shoes and imagine how he might react to the situations he finds himself in.
One of the most crucial elements of getting into Elliot’s mindset is staying true to his personality. I pay attention to his mannerisms, his speech patterns, and his overall demeanor, and try to embody those traits as best as I can. By doing so, I can fully immerse myself in the character and bring him to life in a believable way.
Ultimately, getting into Elliot’s mindset and personality is about understanding who he is as a character and bringing his unique traits and characteristics to the forefront. By doing so, I can create an authentic and compelling portrayal of him on screen.
You are transitioning into drama from comedy in your new role in Freeform’s ‘The Watchful Eye.’ Tell us about how preparing for a drama role is in comparison to your previous comedy roles.
Transitioning from comedy to drama was a challenging yet rewarding experience that required me to shift my energy and approach to acting. As a sketch comedian, I was used to embodying multiple characters in each episode and bringing a high level of energy to our live shows. However, when I made the decision to pursue dramatic roles, I quickly realized that I needed to center my energy differently and focus on delivering a more natural and grounded performance.
One of the most significant adjustments I had to make was in my approach to character development. In comedy, the characters I played were often exaggerated and over-the-top, designed to elicit laughs from the audience. In drama, I had to take a more nuanced and subtle approach, understanding the motivations and emotions of my character and delivering a performance that felt realistic and true to life.
Another challenge was in my understanding of pacing and timing. In sketch comedy, everything moves quickly, and there’s often little time to pause or reflect on a moment. In drama, however, timing is critical, and moments of silence and stillness can be just as powerful as moments of action and dialogue. Learning to appreciate these subtleties and incorporate them into my performances was a significant learning curve, but one that ultimately made me a better actor.
Overall, transitioning from comedy to drama required me to grow and adapt as an actor. It pushed me to explore new techniques and styles of acting, and it challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace new roles and characters. While the journey was not always easy, I am grateful for the experience and the skills I developed along the way.
You had a recurring role on the reboot of Nickelodeon’s iconic comedy sketch series ‘All That’ where comedians such as ‘SNL’ star Kenan Thompson got their start. You have called Kenan one of your mentors. What words of wisdom has he given you that you would like to share with the next generation of actors?
I recall one particular moment during the production of our show that really stood out to me. As a result of Kenan Thompson’s busy schedule on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ he was only able to appear on our show for one sketch. However, the brief interaction we had with him left a lasting impression on all of us.
During his time on set, Kenan took the opportunity to speak to the cast and crew, offering words of encouragement and support. I vividly remember him saying to us, “Keep being creative and don’t let any of this get to you. You were amazing before the show, and you will be amazing after it.”
Those words really resonated with me and, I believe, with the entire team. They served as a reminder that, while the show was important, it was not the be-all and end-all of our careers. We were artists and creators first and foremost, and the show was just one platform through which we could express ourselves and share our talents with the world.
In retrospect, I can see that Kenan’s message was about more than just the show. It was about the ups and downs of the entertainment industry as a whole. He was reminding us that success is never guaranteed and that setbacks and disappointments are a natural part of the process. But he also encouraged us to keep pushing forward, to keep creating, and to stay true to ourselves and our art.
Looking back, I realize how fortunate we were to have had the opportunity to work with someone like Kenan, who not only has immense talent but also a genuine warmth and generosity of spirit. His words of wisdom and encouragement have stayed with me over the years, serving as a source of inspiration and motivation whenever I face challenges in my own career.
Your film, ‘The Hidden Truth,’ which you wrote, created, and directed, was the Official 2022 Movie Selection for the “Black Feedback Film Festival.” What inspired the short film?
‘The Hidden Truth’ originally came to me in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. That time heavily influenced this film. Having gone through long periods of quarantine left many of us feeling alone and isolated. With teen suicide at an all-time high, I wanted my viewers to be able to connect with Jordan and his loneliness. I wanted to bring awareness that depression, drug abuse, and suicide don’t discriminate against age, race, gender, or ethnicity. Additionally, I want to highlight the personal experiences that also inspired me to create ‘The Hidden Truth.’
As a filmmaker, I believe that some of the most compelling stories come from real-life experiences. In my case, I have seen friends and family members struggle with depression, and I’ve witnessed how it can be a debilitating and isolating experience.
I also wanted to explore the topic of mental health in the African American community. There is still a stigma surrounding mental health, and it’s often not discussed openly. However, it’s an issue that affects everyone, and it’s important to have these conversations. Moreover, I wanted to create a film that not only addressed the issue of mental health but also highlighted the importance of seeking help. In the film, Jordan is struggling with depression and turns to drugs as a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, he doesn’t receive the support he needs from his mother, and the situation spirals out of control. I hope that this film can encourage people to reach out for help and to show support for those who are struggling.
Being both a writer and director you took on many hats for this film. Which of these roles did you find most challenging?
For me, the process of making ‘The Hidden Truth’ was an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience. From the initial spark of inspiration to the final cut, every step of the way was a chance to learn, grow, and push myself creatively. But if I had to single out one aspect of the filmmaking process that proved to be the most challenging for me, it would have to be the editing.
As a first-time filmmaker, I knew going in that there would be a steep learning curve when it came to editing. But even so, I wasn’t quite prepared for just how difficult it would be to cut down the film to the required ten-minute runtime. As I began to work my way through the footage, I quickly realized that there were so many scenes and moments that I loved, but that just weren’t essential to the story I was trying to tell. It was a difficult realization to come to, but I knew that if I wanted the film to be successful, I would need to be ruthless in my editing. I spent countless hours revising and refining the footage, cutting out everything that didn’t serve the story, and trying to find the right balance between pacing, emotion, and narrative coherence.
I won’t lie – there were times when I felt like giving up. It was disheartening to see the timestamp still hovering around sixteen minutes, with seemingly no end in sight. But I knew that I couldn’t compromise on the vision I had for the film, and that meant continuing to work until I got it just right.
Eventually, after many revisions and much back-and-forth, I was able to get the final cut down to just ten minutes. Seeing the film in its completed form was an incredibly proud moment for me, and a testament to the hard work and dedication that went into making it. While editing may have been the most challenging part of the process, it was also one of the most rewarding, and I know that the skills I learned will serve me well in all my future filmmaking endeavors.
What lessons do you hope your viewers get from watching ‘The Hidden Truth?’
One of the most important lessons that I hope viewers take away from ‘The Hidden Truth’ is the critical importance of reaching out for help when battling depression. As someone who has struggled with depression in the past, I know firsthand just how difficult it can be to admit that you need help, to let down your guard, and allow someone else to see the darkness you’re battling. But I also know how transformative it can be to finally take that step, to reach out to a loved one or a professional and begin the journey towards healing.
To those who may be struggling with depression themselves, I want you to know that there is no shame in reaching out for help. Depression is an illness, just like any other, and it deserves to be treated with the same care and attention as any physical ailment. Whether it’s reaching out to a friend, a family member, or a trained professional, there is no weakness in seeking help – only strength.
At the same time, I want to encourage those who are not battling depression to be a source of support and strength for those who are. It can be all too easy to overlook the signs of depression in others, or to feel like it’s not our place to intervene. But the truth is, a simple act of kindness, a listening ear, or a gesture of support can mean the world to someone who is struggling. You never know when your actions could make the difference between life and death.
Finally, I want to emphasize the importance of education when it comes to depression. It’s essential for all of us to understand the signs and symptoms of depression so that we can better recognize when someone is in need of help. This is especially important for parents, who may not always be aware of what their children are going through or how to best support them. Throughout ‘The Hidden Truth,’ we see how Jordan’s struggles are compounded by a lack of understanding and support from his mother, and how this ultimately leads him further down a dangerous path.
By educating ourselves and others about the reality of depression, we can create a world where no one has to suffer in silence. We can break down the stigma that surrounds mental illness, and create a culture of compassion and support for all.
How do you work on your own mental health daily?
Maintaining good mental health is crucial, and I’ve found that using a variety of outlets can be helpful in achieving that goal. One of my go-to methods is journaling. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I find it incredibly therapeutic to write everything down on paper. This not only helps me to process my thoughts and feelings, but it also allows me to redirect that energy into something creative, whether it’s writing a joke, a sketch, or a film idea. By channeling my emotions into something productive, I’m able to release any negative energy and replace it with something positive.
In addition to journaling, I also prioritize physical activity as a way to maintain my mental health. For me, kickboxing has been an incredible outlet. Not only is it a great workout, but it also allows me to let out any pent-up frustration or stress. There’s something incredibly cathartic about being able to punch and kick a bag, and I always leave my kickboxing sessions feeling refreshed and energized.
Ultimately, I believe that maintaining good mental health is a lifelong journey, and it requires a commitment to self-awareness and self-care. By finding the outlets that work best for us as individuals, and by prioritizing our own well-being, we can all work towards achieving a greater sense of balance and fulfillment in our lives.
Which is more important, a good director, or a good script?
A script is the foundation of any film. It’s what lays out the plot, characters, and dialogue that drives the narrative forward. A good script can make or break a film. It can be the difference between a movie that falls flat and one that resonates with audiences for years to come.
Of course, having a talented director who can bring the vision to life is also essential. A director has the ability to take the script and turn it into a visual masterpiece. They can use their expertise to create stunning visuals, unique camera angles, and captivating performances from the actors. A great director can elevate a good script into a great film.
But at the end of the day, it all starts with the script. Without a solid foundation, even the best director in the world can only do so much. That’s why, for me, the script is the most important part of a movie. It’s what sets the stage for everything that comes after it.
Who are some actors you looked up to growing up and are there any you would love to work with in the future?
When it comes to actors that I admire and aspire to work with, the list goes on and on. However, Jamie Foxx, Jay Pharoah, and Denzel Washington are definitely some of my all-time favorites. I grew up watching ‘In Living Color,’ and it was where I first saw Jamie Foxx perform. He always cracked me up every time he came on screen, but what truly made me a fan was his diversity as a performer. Jamie Foxx can act in both comedy and drama genres, sing, and write, and he’s a great storyteller. I admire his ability to connect with his audience and bring his characters to life in a way that feels real and authentic.
Denzel Washington has always been and will always be one of my favorite actors. His ability to truly embody the characters he plays and bring his own cool style to them is unmatched. He’s a master of his craft and watching him perform is always a treat.
Jay Pharoah is another actor that I deeply admire. He’s the guy who literally made me want to do impressions. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with him on a show called ‘Unfiltered,’ and he even let me do a guest spot on his standup comedy tour. He’s a mentor of mine, and I would love to do a movie with him someday.
Overall, I believe that working with talented actors like Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington, and Jay Pharoah can only enhance my skills as a filmmaker and bring out the best in me as a performer. I look forward to the day when I can collaborate with these legends and create something truly special.
How do you define success?
For me, success isn’t something that has to be grand or challenging. It’s not a matter of reaching for the stars and stressing yourself out trying to go as big as possible, but instead setting a goal for yourself and sticking to it. Whether that’s exercising daily or simply just getting up in the morning, you are successful if you can see through the plan you set for yourself.
Do you feel it’s important for celebrities to use their platform to garner impactful changes in society and in what ways do you wish to use your platform to make a difference?
As a public figure, you have a voice and a platform that can reach millions of people. It’s important to use that influence to bring attention to issues that may otherwise go unnoticed. By doing so, you can inspire and motivate others to join you in making a difference.
I want to use my platform to advocate for social justice and equality. There are still so many issues surrounding race, gender, sexuality, and other marginalized groups that need to be addressed. By using my voice and influence, I hope to help bring about meaningful change and create a more inclusive and equitable world for all.
Any advice for aspiring young actors looking to get their foot in the door?
I have three main pieces of advice for young actors who are trying to get into the business. First, take advantage of every audition. Every time you go in or send a tape, it is an opportunity for you to put on a performance. So make sure you do the work and truly understand your lines and where you want the scene to go before you get in front of the camera.
Secondly, you want to stay sharp. My mom always tells me to “sharpen your sword when you’re not in battle.” Acting is like a muscle. If you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it.
Last but not least, you will have to develop some thick skin. As an actor, you’re going to get a lot more no’s than yes’s. So it’s crucial to not take anything personally, and charge it to the game, it’s all part of the journey. Additionally, I would recommend that aspiring actors take classes and workshops to continue to hone their craft. This can help you develop your skills, learn new techniques, and meet other actors and industry professionals who can provide valuable insights and connections.
Networking is also critical in the entertainment industry. Attend events, go to screenings, and build relationships with people in the industry. You never know who you might meet or what opportunities might come your way.
Lastly, be persistent and patient. Acting is a tough and competitive field, and it can take time to land that first role. But if you stay dedicated, keep working on your craft, and continue to put yourself out there, the opportunities will come.
In summary, my advice for aspiring young actors is to take advantage of every audition, stay sharp by continually practicing and learning, develop a thick skin, take classes and workshops to improve your craft, network and build relationships in the industry, and be persistent and patient in pursuing your dreams.
When you are not acting and directing, what are some of your favorite things to do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of my spare time doing schoolwork, but outside of acting and directing, some of my favorite hobbies include writing, playing the piano, and working on impressions. I love creating, so anything that has to do with production, I take part in. But! When all else fails, a brotha loves to binge-watch movies and TV shows.
What is the one thing you would like your fans to know about you?
I’m left-handed y’all, and it’s hard to use regular scissors!
What three things can’t you live without?
Three things that I can’t live without are my notebook, my phone, and those Biscoff cookies that they give you on planes. I don’t know what it is, but if I’m on a plane and they don’t have those cookies on deck, I’m going to have to speak to a manager, lol.
Where can people follow you on social media?
@Mrlexlumpkin on all platforms.
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