INTERVIEW ERIN WALSH
PHOTO CHRISTIAN HOGSTEDT
MEET Niles Fitch, actor, activist, superhero… We spoke with Niles about stepping into iconic shoes, paying it forward, and quarantine regimes. Read on below…
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Erin Walsh Niles, thank you so much for letting us rope you into our SBJCT Collective. We are so excited about you and the work you are bringing into this world. Let’s start at the beginning- can you tell me a bit about your upbringing and how you grew up and finally got into acting? I say finally because it seems you have been acting since around the time you could speak. What is it like growing up as a performer?
Niles Fitch I always liked taking pictures and strangers would ask my parents if I modeled. Eventually my parents figured it would be a good way to earn college money, so they sent my snapshots to talent agencies and all of them called me in and the rest is history.
Growing up as a performer is like the scariest, biggest, but most fun rollercoaster at Six Flags. You never know what to expect and are excited about every turn.
EW How do you “turn off”? I find that many times with people who grew up entertaining, it is difficult to well, stop. How do you confront this?
NF I have college, watch sports, pre-Covid I would hang out with friends, and I try to get my rest.
EW Let’s talk about The Secret Society of Second-Born Royals. Can you tell us a bit about the film and your character?
NF “Secret Society of Second-Born Royals” is about a group of second-born royal teens who find out they have superpowers and they come together to fight a common evil. My character Tuma is the life of the party. He has to learn that with great power comes great responsibility.
EW The Disney machine is enormous- can you tell me a bit about the responsibility that comes with becoming a part of it?
NF It’s really an honor to be a part of such a groundbreaking Disney project. The only real responsibility is for me to remain my authentic self.
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EW What was the filming process like? Any interesting stories from behind the scenes?
NF The filming process was super fun! One of the best parts was when we began training with the stunt coordinators. I was actually a little nervous at first.
EW Tell us about your method to finding a character. What does this involve both physically and mentally?
NF For Tuma, I figured I needed to look like a superhero. So, I gained 26 lbs by swimming, staying in the gym and changing my diet. Mentally I visualized myself as Tuma the superhero.
EW How would your prep for TSSOSBR differ from The Fallout or This Is Us?
NF For Randall prep, “This Is Us” is a drama and changes weekly based on what is happening with Randall in the episode. His experiences are similar to what is happening in my actual life, so I am able to draw from those in embodying Randall. For Quinton, “The Fallout” is a feature film and my prep was based on the dynamics of the movie. For Tuma, the prep was more physical.
EW Being a part of something with that many eyes watching, History has Its Eyes On You, as they say. You are the first Black live action Disney prince. Representation is such a crucial part of developing confidence when we are growing up- what are some of your own experiences with seeing yourself or those you identified with, who you felt looked like or resonated with you in that way onscreen?
NF I grew up in Atlanta, referred to as the Black mecca, and I grew up around Black doctors, lawyers, business owners, etc. so I always knew anything was possible. On screen I saw Will Smith and later Chadwick (rest in power) Boseman and that impacted me, because of them I knew succeeding as an actor on screen was also possible.
EW What do you think has changed in the industry since your very beginnings in this way? Where are things really lacking in terms of evolution? I realize there are many, many factors here, but in a year that our world is addressing systemic racism in ways and a scale that is unprecedented, what are you seeing that’s changing already and some things that still are simply not ok?
NF One of the biggest changes in entertainment is the way we watch TV. Streaming shows and more content is available. Binging shows and influencers are more popular now. As far as systemic racism and specifically, Breonna Taylor’s death, things have not changed.
EW With a platform of this size comes a great responsibility to pay it forward – what do you consider to be yours?
NF Normalizing the Black man via media, whether acting, modeling, directing, producing, etc., I’m here for it.
EW Any causes or charities that you would like to bring attention to?
NF My dad succumbed to Lupus when I was 12 and A Caring Hand in NYC and Kate’s Club in Atlanta were grief programs that assisted my family. Currently, I am an Ambassador for Lupus LA in Los Angeles.
EW I am also extremely excited about The Fallout- can you tell us a bit about this film which doesn’t come out until next year?
NF “The Fallout” is a film about the fall out/consequences resulting from a mass tragedy. Can’t wait for everyone to see it in 2021!
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Normalizing the Black man via media, whether acting, modeling, directing, producing, etc., I’m here for it.
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To thine self be true
EW What has this year been like for you? How have you been keeping busy and staying sane?
NF 2020 has been an up and down year. In the midst of ongoing tragedy and protests demanding basic human treatment, I’ve had to learn how to stay motivated, positive and sane.
EW Any quarantine routine?
NF Quarantine routine includes working out and getting up early to stay motivated.
EW Go to physical activity?
EW Unwinding routine?
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EW Books you are into these days?
NF Always The Alchemist and mostly my college class books these days.
EW Films we must see?
NF “Secret Society of Second-Born Royals“ on Disney+, “The Fallout“ in 2021 (unapologetic plug) and “Tenet.”
Mentally I visualized myself as Tuma the superhero.
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EW Who has been most instrumental in guiding you thus far? Any mentors that really changed things for you along the way, whether that is professionally or personally?
NF Mentors – My mom and (rest in power) Dad
EW Niles, what’s your SBJCT? What really motivates and drives you?
NF My subject – “To thine self be true” when you live in your purpose there’s nothing you can’t do.
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