Moving from child actor into an adult career can be tricky, but Coy Stewart is up to the task.
It's no secret that the transition from child stardom to adult actor can be challenging, but 20-year-old Coy Stewart is determined to embrace the process.
"I can't be afraid of it," he said while recounting his path to achieving adult success. "I have to trust that if I was able to do it for 10 years [so far] I can do it for another 10," he added.
The South Carolina native got his first taste of the spotlight at a very young age, but it wasn't until he was 13 that he became a TV series regular as Kevin Kingston on TBS's Are We There Yet. He also enjoyed brief success on Nickelodeon's hit show Bella and the Bulldogs as Troy Dixon.
At the time, kid roles made sense for a young Stewart, but things changed as he got older. "When I turned 18, I decided I wanted to turn this into a [lifelong] career," he said. "So, I became more selective with the roles I was choosing."
With his mind set on achieving career longevity, Stewart landed a recurring role on the popular ABC action hit series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the young Inhuman named Flint. Additionally, Stewart can be seen on the sixth season of NBC's critically acclaimed The Blacklist.
He'll also be appearing this spring on the new Netflix comedy, Mr. Iglesias. It's safe to say Stewart seems to be on the right path to the adult career he always dreamed of. We spoke briefly with him about his journey and challenges he faces in Hollywood.
We're loving you as Vontae on The Blacklist and as Flint on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. What stood out to you about both of these roles?
The character arcs. The arcs for these characters were some of the best arcs I have ever seen, especially for a young character of color. When I saw these roles, I said "this is something I definitely want to do." I'm learning a lot from both roles and it's super exciting.
Tell us more about why these roles are important to you as a person of color?
I have never seen many black superheroes and that's why roles like Flint stand out for me. The timing of when I joined the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was around the same time that the film Black Panther was released. I was able to go to the premiere and there was just something [special] about that night.
It made me realize that we are at a place in Hollywood for people of color that we have never been at before. So, to be a young person of color and be involved in this new movement even in a small way is an honor and blessing.
Tell us about your character Flint on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I play Flint, who in the Marvel world is considered Inhuman. He's basically someone who is born with this human inside of him and when activated it will awaken an ability. For Flint, his ability is that he can move elements of the earth.
The interesting thing about Flint is that when you meet him, he's an orphan and he is alone. I think it's a feeling we can all relate to which is why I really love this character. It's incredible.
I feel lucky to work on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as The Blacklist because both of the characters are people who immediately join their team. As soon as you meet these characters, they get caught up in what's happening in that universe. We see Flint evolve from not having any powers at all to killing a bunch of people within two or three episodes which was so much fun to shoot.
Wow, what was the audition process like for that role?
I told my manager - who I've been with my entire career - that I was going on a vacation in Palm Springs. The morning I leave for Palms Springs she calls me and says, "Hey, do you remember the S.H.I.E.L.D. audition you went on last week? Well they need you to come in tomorrow!"
I ended up going to Palms Springs for a night and drove back the next day for the call back. I got up super early and was super prepared, yet my GPS led me to the wrong location, and I was 10 minutes late. That entire day was a hot mess. But I walked into the audition room and Clarke Gregg, who is the star of the show, was there and I got to read for him.
Two or three days later, I got the call that I got the role.
Would you consider yourself a competitive person?
I think when I was younger around 16 or 17, but as I get older, I've learned that there's something for everyone here in Hollywood. Every role that I get is meant for me and a role that someone else gets is meant for them.
When I don't get a role, it doesn't necessarily mean that I didn't qualify for it, there's so many different factors that play into an actor getting a role. At this stage in my career, I've learned that I'd much rather enjoy the process rather than compete.
What are some of the challenges that you face in the business?
There's a few. One of the biggest ones I face is representation. What I mean is that I want to make sure that I am accepting roles that are written from the right place. I think the problem in Hollywood is that people who are not of color write for characters who are of color. There's nothing wrong with that as long as there is truth within it.
There's been a lot of roles I turned down because the characters were paper thin and without layers. As a young black man, I want to make sure every role that I do has layers. There are so many layers to us to peel back, especially in today's America.
So, when I see a character that is a drug-dealer and nothing else, it's like, no that's not the case, this person is drug-dealing for a reason. This person is not born a drug dealer. There are so many things that play huge factors in the make-up of a person and a lot of roles that I see [don't reflect that.] It doesn't relate to what I know.
Do you fear the transition from child star to adult actor?
I'm at an awkward stage in the industry right now because at 20, I'm rarely actually playing a 20-year-old. I'm still playing characters in their late teens. I don't look old enough to play a 21-year-old character yet.
It definitely scares me, but I think anything that is worth doing is scary. We live in a day and age where everyone wants everything now. I'm okay with turning down roles [that aren't right for me] because I'm trying to grow and when you want to grow and change, it takes a change.
You can catch Coy Stewart this Spring on The Blacklist, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the new Netflix comedy Mr. Iglesias.