‘Empire’ Actor Opening Chicago Theater Company, Filming Pilot TV Show

Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 in Voice-Over | 0 comments

 Antoine McKay on the set of

Antoine McKay on the set of “Empire” with Taraji P. Henson
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ROGERS PARK — “Empire” actor Antoine McKay is bringing a theater and production company to Rogers Park.

“I used to live in Rogers Park for eight years and I love [it],” he said. “This is where a lot of artists live and this is where I lived when I first moved [to Chicago].”

McKay, who played Bunkie Williams in the hit Fox TV show, now lives in Evanston with his wife and six children, but he said his heart is still in Rogers Park.

The grand opening for the theater at 2039 W. Jarvis Ave. is Saturday.

McKay said it has always been his calling to help others get a start in the entertainment industry. He founded McKay Arts in 2010 and he now offers classes in acting, voiceover, beginner’s improv, pilot and teen pilot production.

He said that Chicago is full of “amazingly talented people who weren’t getting the opportunities that they should have been getting.”

McKay has been acting and directing for more than 20 years. He has performed on the Second City Main Stage in Detroit and Chicago. He has been in commercials and television shows such as ABC’s “Detroit 187,” NBC’s “ER” and Fox’s “Prison Break.” He’s also been in films like “The Weatherman” starring Nicholas Cage.

Being on “Empire’s” set was a lot of fun, he said. He appeared in five episodes last year.

Lead actor Terrance Howard “used to play around a lot and he would always make people laugh,” McKay said. One of his favorite moments was meeting famed sitcom actress Debbie Allen.

His latest project is a television pilot he co-wrote with executive producer Margie Shabazz.

“Written Off” is a Bluelight Productions’ comedy series that addresses the ups and downs of working in journalism. McKay also directed and starred in the series.

The production company was created in 2013 by Shabazz,who works with independent entrepreneurs, industry professionals and DePaul University alums.

“I feel like this project is our gift to Chicago,” Shabazz said. “This city has such a rich cultural tapestry and it was really important to us that we reflected that — not only in the subject matter but also in the way we chose the cast and crew. We’ve brought together a team of really talented Chicago artists to tell a story that we feel is pretty universal across America right now.”

McKay said the idea for the show came after meeting a former speechwriter who had just lost her job.

“The idea just came from starting over,” he said. “Being a writer is hard. It is also a very special and unique talent because not everyone can do what we do.”

The show is about two college friends in their 40s who have to find new jobs after getting fired from a fictional newspaper called The Chicago Truth. They end up going into business together.

For those aspiring to one day work in the entertainment industry, McKay said they need to actively pursue it every day.

“Do something every day that’s going to enhance your career,” he said. “As you grow in that discipline of doing one thing, you’re going to start doing more, and eventually your hands will be in a lot of different places.”

“Written Off” can be seen on Amazon Prime. McKay can also be seen in the Amazon series “Patriot,” which airs this fall. To learn more about his company visit Mckayarts.net.

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