Many of you may recognize Grant Hall from his role as Kyle on Freeform’s hit series, Grown-ish. What you may not know is that Grant’s journey to success has been anything but easy. He struggled at the beginning of his career, taking on various low-key jobs to make ends meet. What sets him apart from others is his strong family bond that has kept him grounded and focused on his goals.
Beyond his acting career, Grant is also a committed philanthropist, working with charities and giving back to his community. His unwavering dedication to his craft and his commitment to making a positive impact in the industry is very inspiring!
Grant Hall (rear, left) and his Grown’ish co-stars taking a behind the scenes selfie.
You play the antagonist Kyle on the latest season of Freeform’s hit series Grown-ish. Tell us about your audition and how long it took you to find out you booked the job.
My audition process for the role of Kyle was certainly an interesting journey, and believe it or not, it almost didn’t even happen. After receiving my initial audition request for Kyle from my agent, I submitted my audition tape to casting and played the waiting game for a couple of days. After about 2-3 days or so, I received another request from my agent to audition for the role once again with the same exact scenes and lines but with the addition of changing just one word within all of the text. Considering that they hadn’t even labeled this secondary audition as a “callback,” I assumed it must’ve been a mistake, and it was just meant for the people who hadn’t yet turned in their tapes for the role. So, I assumed it didn’t pertain to me and proceeded with my day, but then I got a follow-up phone call from my agent, who wanted to confirm that I was going to submit my secondary audition tape for Kyle. And after a little bit of persuading, I agreed to submit for the role again. Even though I was slightly annoyed that I would be submitting again for the same role with the same exact scenes / lines, it wasn’t even an official callback. To make matters worse, I was actually playing college baseball at the time, and we had an away game on the same day I would have had to complete and submit my audition tape. So I had to make a choice. I decided to go to the baseball game instead of doing the tape, but as I was sleeping the night before the game, I heard a seemingly omniscient voice of almost divine intuition talking to me. It told me as clear as day: “Don’t go to the game, do the audition instead.” As much as I wanted to disregard this voice and say it wasn’t real, I couldn’t shake it. It seemed too wise and intuitive that I couldn’t ignore it. I decided to follow the voice of intuition’s advice and complete the audition instead of going to the game, and the rest is history. Today I’m so grateful that I made this decision because I ended up booking an incredible role that has quite possibly altered my acting career forever. So I guess the moral of the story is to follow your intuition and gut instinct above everything. Philosophy carries over beautifully into the craft of acting as well as pertaining to following your impulses.
You got to kiss Justine Skye on an episode of Grown-ish! As an actor, what type of talks, if any, did you have with Justine and/or production about this particular scene?
Yes, I did. I’m definitely a lucky guy (laughs). I met Justine for the first time about an hour before our initial kiss scene. We used that hour to sit, talk, and build some chemistry before hopping into our intimate scene. After talking to Justine for a bit, I started to get a feel for who she is, and I remember feeling attracted to her seemingly deep sense of self-confidence and obvious physical beauty. I decided to use this authentic attraction for the scene. I think it really helped the chemistry of our characters, who we had to portray as if we had known one another for a while and already had an established relationship — even though Justine and I had just met. On another note, production did an amazing job of making sure that we were comfortable with the intimacy of the scene. Specifically, our director of that episode (Shiri Appleby) really did a stellar job of balancing the task of getting the most out of our performances as actors but also making sure neither of us were uncomfortable with what was taking place. Needless to say, the scene turned out pretty well, and it seems the fans enjoyed it as well based on the YouTube numbers of the scene clip (laughs).
You were a model for brands such as Adidas, Jordan, Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch. How’d you get into the modeling business?
I started modeling in my early days living in LA. The first agency I signed with was very prominent in the modeling industry. Although I had originally signed with them hoping to succeed in my acting career, I soon started to receive great modeling opportunities instead. I didn’t really have too much cooking with my acting career, so I took modeling jobs (laughs). I think the modeling campaign, in particular, helped to instill a new level of confidence in me, and my first one was for Abercrombie & Fitch. To tell a quick story about it, I received the casting opportunity my second year in LA, and the name of the casting call was “Untitled Fragrance Brand”. I went to the casting call, and they had me come into the room, change into a plain white T-shirt and pose for a few photos. They kept it short and simple, then sent me on my way. About half a year goes by, and I don’t hear anything about the audition. Honestly, I had forgotten that it even happened (laughs), but as I was driving home from a rehearsal with an acting classmate, I got a call from my agent, who seemed thrilled. She informed me that I had booked the job with Abercrombie & Fitch for the revival of their signature fragrance, “Fierce Cologne”. At first, I thought it must’ve been a mistake because I hadn’t auditioned for any Abercrombie and Fitch jobs, but then I remembered that I had auditioned for that untitled fragrance campaign months ago and realized that was the one. Obviously, I felt on top of the world, and then later, I shot the campaign. Fast forward a few months, and it gets released and sets my world on fire. The campaign was released all over the globe, and even people from different countries were contacting me and sending pictures of me from the banners inside the stores. Best of all, they had my photos inside the A&F store at my hometown mall in Toledo, OH, which I grew up going to. All my friends and family were able to see it, which really made me feel proud and showed me that all my hard work leading up to that point wasn’t for naught.
Did you take acting lessons? Do you currently have an acting coach? How’d you connect with your coach?
Yes. My first intro to acting was improv and theatre-based training. After that, I went to film school (The New York Film Academy) for a while and then later decided to really focus on my acting studies and went to a London-based drama school for a couple years, which truly helped to take my craft to another level. I’m a huge advocate of actors going to a class and learning how to act before trying to hop right into the industry. Whenever people thinking about starting up an acting career ask me for advice, I recommend that they first attend some acting classes to make sure they enjoy the craft of acting. If you don’t enjoy it, it’s not going to be worth the hardships you’re going to endure working in this industry. I’d also recommend that everyone studies improv at some point because it really helps with being flexible as an actor, especially in auditions, and strengthens your creativity.
Grant Hall taking a break in his trailer between scenes.
You were in your teens when you joined show business. How did this career choice affect your decision not to attend college?
I actually attended college; I wasn’t able to finish it due to the start-up of my acting career. I knew when I decided to hop full-time into show business that I would have to make certain sacrifices in order to fulfill my dreams and that having a complete TV-like college experience would be one of those sacrifices. After deciding to take acting seriously, I met my first manager, a lady named Philana who had been working in the field for a while. She asked my mom multiple times if she could represent my brothers and me in modeling when we were younger and helped arrange for me to come out to LA. When I got here, she helped me formulate a game plan for navigating my career, which was incredibly helpful. On the business side of things, I’ve always been pretty savvy in that arena. Most likely because my parents are both business owners in two vastly different fields; I grew up watching and learning from them close up. Nonetheless, I’ve had many part-time jobs while living in LA, which is just a part of the hustle culture here. In terms of acting mentors, I was lucky enough to meet a great man named Shaun T. Benjamin during my first year in film school, and he really took me under his wing and taught me about what it means to be an actor and how to not let the industry corrupt you or what you stand for. On top of that, he was also one of the first people to tell me that he thought I was talented, which helped give me the confidence I desperately needed.
How do you feel about being a successful Black man?
First, thank you for the compliment (laughs), but I feel so proud to be a young black man working in this industry, and having some success in it on top of that feels like a dream come true. To me, it’s always seemed as though the black community, in particular, is very proud of its list of notable actors, and my goal is to add honor and achievement to that rich history. Honestly, my desire is to continue inspiring people to take a chance and strive to reach their dreams regardless of race, skin color, ethnicity, etc. I wake up every morning feeling immensely grateful to be where I am in life and for the amazing future that I know is on its way. I want to be a beacon of hope and inspiration for all the people out there with hearts and minds full of dreams.
There’s a stigma about the entertainment field where young people get caught up with the wrong crowd ultimately leading to poor decisions. How do you focus on staying physically and mentally healthy?
Many people tried to persuade my parents to not let me move to LA initially because of this stigma. Still, thankfully my parents had enough faith in the child they raised and believed me when I told them I wouldn’t partake in anything that would steer me away from my goals and dreams. From my experience, the stigma is very real, and I see the traps, and how many of my peers fall into them. Thankfully, my desire to achieve greatness in show business has always outweighed any desire I had to partake in the nonsense. I’ve always been a naturally motivated person. Nowadays, I prioritize working out, meditating, journaling, and playing sports because it helps give my life the balance it needs. Even while being incredibly motivated and active, there’s still been times when I almost gave into temptations that could’ve cost me everything. Working within this industry for some years has certainly shown me that it’s not for the faint of heart and that mental fortitude, determination, willpower, and discipline are essential if you wish to create success in this business. I believe Utah Hagen once said, “An actor must be as disciplined as a soldier.” I’ve kind of taken that to heart.
You’re from Ohio, and after falling in love with the entertainment field, you made your move to Los Angeles. Tell us about how you went hunting for an apartment, did you have a roommate, did you have odd and end jobs to pay the rent?
When I first made the move to LA, it definitely took some time to adjust to the culture and speed of the city. Now, six years later, I’m still adjusting (laughs). Nonetheless, I certainly fall in love with this city more and more each day. When it came down to apartment hunting, I decided to move away from the city, primarily to avoid the craziness of Hollywood or Downtown LA. Thankfully I had a car, so I knew I could commute wherever I needed to go. That’s another thing I suggest to anybody considering moving to LA, make sure you have a car when you come here. You’ll thank me later (laughs). After I secured the apartment, my brother and I moved in. He was my roommate for a couple years but ultimately decided to move back home to Ohio. I chose to stay in the city and continue pursuing my dream, which meant I had to find many roommates throughout the years to help me afford my rent. Let me tell you, just because someone is your friend, that doesn’t mean you guys will do well together as roommates. I’ve learned that the hard way (laughs). I’ve definitely had my fair share of odd part-time jobs, such as working at car washes, retail stores, kiosks at the mall, you name it, but you do what you’ve got to do for the dream, right?
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’d like to give a very special shoutout to my mom for her unconditional and unwavering faith in me. I truthfully wouldn’t even be doing this interview right now if it wasn’t for her and her support. I credit any successes I’ve had thus far in this industry to her. I’ve also been frequently working with a few charities, such as Feeding America and Stand Up To Cancer lately. I look forward to doing more to help give back and if anybody would like to follow my crazy journey, you can find me on Instagram @thegranthall.