Bello got the chance to speak with Andrew Kai, most recently known for his role in Elegance Bratton’s “The inspection” as the ever-tormented Ryan Label. “The Inspection” currently holding a solid rating of 88% at Rotten Tomatoes and 90% at Fandango, and with its high marks, this movie is one to watch before the year wraps. If it’s not from “The Inspection” may recognize the handsome actor from other movies and shows like “The Space Between”, “Valley Girl”, and “Atypical”.
Andrew was very candid in his interview, and we got to learn what movies he grew up with, what his fashion sense looks like and what passions he has outside of acting. And to wrap it up, we’ve even given you a chance to play two truths and a lie with him. Check out question #9 and let us know what you think is the mischievous untruth.
You’ve had an extensive career as an actor with diversity in both the small and big screen. Is there a type of role you have yet to play? What kind would that be?
I’m ready to do a sports film. Growing up, sports movies were always such a source of inspiration for me. Remember the Titans, Warrior, Friday Night Lights, Coach Carter, Green Street Hooligans (assuming street fighting is a sport), Any given Sunday, I mean I can go on forever. These movies were monumental in my character development and mental fortitude. They repeatedly told me that there are no limitations to what I am capable of. Quotes like “Once you’ve taken a few punches and realize you’re not made of glass,” “inch by inch,” “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Quotes like these are burned into my brain. Quotes like these have gotten me through some of the hardest times in my life. These nuggets of inspiration transcend far beyond any field, mat, or court. They are applicable to all parts of our lives.
My entire life growing up revolved around sports. My life was school, practice, and competing. My summers I spent in Georgia at wrestling camp. Now when I’m not working I split my time between surfing, snowboarding, jiu jitsu and boxing. So definitely looking forward to working on a role where I can incorporate these disciplines.
What draws you to acting? Was it always a career choice? If there is something about the industry that you could change, what would it be?
I love to feel, I love to learn, and I love to experience new things. At my core, that’s what excites me. And anything that allows that to occur for me, I love to do. Acting allows me to do all three of those and so much more.
It was not always a career choice. I did some commercial acting, modeling, and a lot of theater when I was a little guy up until about 12 years old and then my life revolved around sports and then I went to the University of San Diego with the intention of becoming a real estate developer. I worked for a year and I started to see how my whole life was going to play out. It scared me. Yes, I had a passion for real estate but the idea of salmon fishing in Alaska also sounded cool or being a wildlife photographer sounded amazing, or being a college wrestling coach sounded interesting as well. My personality craves constant change, so after some soul searching I decided I would reignite my younger passion for acting and try to live as many lives as possible through the characters I would play. I headed to LA and here we are.
I absolutely love movies and television. They help us escape from our reality, they invigorate our imagination, they help us relate to the world, and open our eyes to worlds and lives we would never have experienced otherwise. I used to love award shows for film and television. I would look forward to watching the Oscars as a kid, it was an event in my household. It felt like it was truly a celebration of cinema. However, now award shows feel like they are more of a platform for artists to preach their socio political beliefs than an appreciation for the dedication to art and film. I applaud those who feel a desire to have a positive effect on this world and advocate change. However, I would like to keep award shows about film and keep socio political agendas out of it.
THE INSPECTION is based on the life story of director Elegance Bratton. Prior to shooting, how aware of Elegance Bratton’s story were you? What did you research in auditioning?
I had no idea that the script was based on Elegance’s life until I was already on location in Mississippi. We had two weeks of bootcamp before we started shooting and in that time I shared a lot of moments with Elegance who is one of the warmest and kindest people I’ve ever met. He was more than willing to open his heart with us and share the most intimate stories about his life. From there I made it my goal to tell his story to the best of my ability.
Tell us about your character Label. How did you create the character and bring him to life? What kind of advice did Bratton provide in bringing Label to life?
Ryan Label is an extremely tormented kid. Although he is first seen in the film with hair down to his shoulders, wearing a nirvana t-shirt, and seemingly not a care in the world, he is actually battling a lot of demons internally. He enters bootcamp with the intention of keeping to himself and being a loner by choice but ends up becoming the voice of morality in the film as he witnesses the wrongs done to French and Ismael. As Ryan stands up for Ismael and French when no one else would, he starts to step into his own power for the first time in his life and in the process learns to love himself.
Elegance really encouraged me to bring myself to Label. He gave me a lot of freedom to explore and really create a layered character. With that freedom over the two weeks of bootcamp I explored some of the darker times in my life. I journaled and uncovered memories I’ve buried. I created Label by making the hardest times in my life his reality. I filled him with anger so violent he is forced to suppress or he’d explode which we see glimpses of in the film. I absolutely loved creating Label and through revisiting those uncomfortable feelings and thoughts I’ve had in the past I learned to love myself even more in the process just as he did in the film. It was truly a cathartic experience for me.
Can you share an interesting experience / fun story while shooting THE INSPECTION? Interesting on-set interaction? Dynamic with co-stars?
We had so much fun shooting THE INSPECTION. Because the material is so heavy, when we had time to step away from it we just played. Mccaul Lombardi has an awesome pickup truck that we would hang out at every day when we weren’t shooting. We were constantly throwing around a football, Nicholas Logan would rope garbage cans with a lasso, a lot of cigarettes were smoked and a lot of laughs were laughed.
I think my favorite on set interaction is when Bokeem Woodbine as Sergeant Laws calls me over to inspect my rifle. In the script that’s more or less all the scene was supposed to be. I was supposed to clear the weapon and hand it over to Sergeant Laws and end the scene. That is not what ended up happening and I was completely unaware of what Bokeem Woodbine was planning to do. Instead of calling my character over he just points at me until it gets my attention. I go over to Bokeem with the rifle in hand and clear the weapon before passing it over to him. The rest is improvised. We go back and forth on how much he hates my voice and then begins to get extremely obscene with my weapon, even smelling his fingers at one point. I, completely blindsided, am just in character responding to this psycho path molesting my weapon. They called “cut” and we both started dying laughing. It was so strange and amazing at the same time and I’m so happy that they kept it in the film. I am very grateful to have that experience with such a legendary actor.
THE INSPECTION is an autobiographical film. If you can direct and write an autobiographical film about a certain point of your life, what would that be about, look like and be called?
When I was in 6th grade there was this kid Michael Macaluso. He was funny and a little chubby and everyone loved him. I was very quiet in 6th grade and I think he may have said something mean to me at one point that year and I crossed him out in my yearbook. In 7th grade I became popular. In 8th grade I had study hall with Mike and he sat behind me. About half way through the semester he tapped me on the shoulder and gave me an origami bird he made. We became best friends after that. The stories we have over those next two years were absolutely insane. Every time we hung out it became an adventure that could be its own movie. Mike didn’t have a lot of money and I was pretty fortunate. He ended up moving to Georgia half way through high school and we remained extremely close. Life started to happen and it became harder and harder to maintain our brotherhood. We’ve gotten in fist fights, we haven’t talked to each other for years, he lived in a tent in my backyard for months. It’s been a journey. I would love to make a film that is over the course of age 11 to 27 about our friendship and how we’ve managed it.
Currently, the film is being labeled as a possible Oscar contender. In your words, why do you think this film deserves an Oscar?
First off, to be part of this film that is being so well received is a dream come true. To be a part of art that leaves such a moving impression and inspires goodness and love is such a gift. This story and its truth is enough to bring someone to tears and want to immediately call the people they love to remind them they are. And that’s just the story. Elegances execution in his filmmaking elevate it to another level that is so specific and unique. For the first time film is seeing bootcamp, something film is no stranger to, in a completely original and personal lens. Cinematically It is a masterpiece shot by an actual movie wizard, Lachlan Milne. The actors in this film are so talented but that’s not the part that is special. The part that’s special is how passionate every single actor was in telling Elegance’s story. We knew we had a very very important responsibility to share Elegance’s story and everyone was on board to pour their heart into it. It wasn’t easy. Days were hard and the Mississippi weather was not easy on us. But we gave this story to all of us. This movie is a product of immense love and incomparable dedication and although we are all very humbled to be spoken so highly of, we knew this one was a special one. There was this unspoken magic that was being created that touched us so deeply and knew it would resonate in a special way with the world.
Besides acting, what are some of your passions that you like to venture in when not on set?
My passions change by the month but right now I’m really into breath work. I’m a big ice bath guy and have been experimenting with different types of breath work to add into my routine of cold plunging. Winter is upon us so that means its snowboard season which I’m absolutely stoked for. I wasn’t able to get out on the mountain too much last year, but this year I plan on going every weekend I’m free. I’m big into jiu jitsu, I hop around different jiu jitsu gyms a lot but coming from a wrestling background I have such a blast getting on the mat. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry. Simple poetry, nothing too crazy but if I’m feeling something strongly I will put it into a few lines of verse in my notes. I think In a few years I’ll make a book of all my poems accompanied by some film photos I take. The book might just be for me but I think I’d like to have it in a book format.
Give us two truths and a lie. Hopefully our readers will figure out what the lie is.
My front tooth is fake, my mom raised me speaking French, I’ve surfed a 30 foot wave in Portugal
As you know Bello magazine is a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Can you share with our readers your take on style and fashion sense.
I love fashion. I think it’s such a fun way to step into a feeling or persona or just simply express yourself. My personal style changes daily. I dress the way I want to feel that day. If I want to feel a little tough or have a don’t give a fu** attitude I wear a baggy t-shirt inside out, a pair of baggy jeans, and some combat boots. If I’m feeling easy and fun loving I throw on a very open linen Hawaiian shirt and some good light blue levis and flip flops. When I wear that outfit, life is easy and life is good. I love bracelets and rings. I’ll paint my nails occasionally. I just bleached my hair yesterday so I’m currently a blonde boy. Yea it’s a tough question. Right now I’m wearing my dad’s vintage flannel and his baggy corduroy pants with checkered socks. I guess I stole a lot of my dad’s clothes. I am in New York right now and am very excited to get some thrift shopping in Brooklyn this week. Hopefully we have some good finds.
With this shoot we wanted to bring to life a muse inspired by the masterpieces from the Rococo and Baroque eras.
Photography Aleksandar Tomovic
Creative Direction Stephane Marquet
Styling Leona Mizrahi
Grooming Joanna Faivre
Special thanx to Platform PR
Location Maison Privée, Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood CA.
Production BELLO Media Group x Maison Privée