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Shamier Anderson Enjoys Career Rise, Role in New ‘John Wick’


New York (AP) — Shamier Anderson is well aware that his Hollywood profile is rising, and he’s not taking the moment for granted.

“I have been grinding for a long time and I am still grinding. And it has not escaped my notice that I am pretty ubiquitous in the market right now. However, my work ethic has not changed,” says the 31-year-old Canadian actor. “I am lucky, and that is something that has not escaped my notice… I also recognize that this moment will pass, right? And that is something that humbles me.”

Most wouldn’t blame Anderson for indulging in the moment, as his latest film, the Keanu Reeves-led “John Wick: Chapter 4,” debuted at No. 1 last week with a franchise-best $73.5 million in own country at the checkout.. Anderson plays the Tracker, a bounty hunterwho has been stalking Wick around the world in hopes of getting a huge payday.

“I get to share the screen with people I used to look up to, who I still look up to, a la Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Laurence Fishburne,” said the Wing Chun kung fu student. “Those are the times when I think, ‘Wow, things are changing.'”

Things are indeed changing, but it’s been a slow and steady journey. He starred in the movie “Bruiser,” which is due out in February, with Trevante Rhodes, and appeared in films such as 2020’s “Bruised” with Halle Berry and 2018’s “Destroyer” alongside Nicole Kidman. His first film credit came in 2010’s “Nostrum”. Each role has served as a building block for a burgeoning, substantial career.

“These are my colleagues. These are my sparring partners. How are we going to find out the truth and do a great job and kill it? And when they yell ‘cut,’ I say, ‘Can I have a picture?’” he laughed, saying that working with Reeves was a “pinch me” moment. “I’ve done some incredible movies with some incredible A-list actresses and actors, and I still get butterflies…I’m always learning and I’m learning with a smile on my face.”

Anderson grew up in Toronto, raised by a single mother along with his two brothers, including Stephan James, who starred in the 2018 Oscar-nominated ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ as well as Ava DuVernay’s ‘Selma’. Hollywood was always in sight for Anderson, who studied musical theater at Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts, but not for James.

“I always joke when I say that Stephan has never been to an acting class in his life and I have been training all my life,” said the older brother. “He’s been nominated for a Golden Globe, nominated for an Emmy, nominated for an NAACP… he’s more decorated than a Christmas tree right now. But it just kind of speaks to how this business works. There is no blueprint.”

However, the siblings create their own layout and it is now a family business.

Following protests following the murder of George Floyd during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the brothers founded the Black Academy (Building a Legacy in Acting, Cinema and Knowledge) to fight systemic racism. They also created the Bay Mill Studios production company to empower Black Canadian creatives. Anderson says the company recently sold a project centered around famed painter Jean-Michel Basquiat to a major streaming service. While black music from Canadian artists like Drake, The Weeknd, and PartyNextDoor has reached global heights, the movie industry hasn’t made the same strides.

“There are actually a lot of iconic Canadians in the movie world: Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, James Cameron, Ryan Reynolds. I mean it’s a long list…Sandra Oh – bunch of cool people,” he said.

“Black filmmakers — black actors and actresses — it’s kind of scarce there,” says Anderson, deliberately crossing the line between actor and activist. “There are not enough black individuals in the arts at the highest level… there is no shortage of talent. It’s just an opportunity.”

To highlight Canada’s wealth of talent, the Black Academy created the Legacy Awards. It is the nation’s first Black Awards show, described as a mashup of the NAACP Image Awards, Grammys, and BET Awards. Deborah Cox was one of the performers for the inaugural show, which earned four nominations, including Best Presenter, from the Canadian Screen Awards. In honor of a wide range of black Canadians, including athletes, musicians, actors and philanthropists, the show has a multi-year commitment to air on Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

And while his social and creative achievements are a source of pride, Anderson’s widest smile appears when he talks about DJ Shamgod – his musical alias.

“I’ve been deejaying for 15 years. I used it as a way to pay bills, to make money when I wasn’t getting acting work… for the past year I recently said I’m going public with it,” explained the multiformat DJ who performed a set at the John Wick after party in New York after the premiere.”This isn’t another actor trying to be a musician. I’ve been making music. I’m really on the turntables and I’m really throwing down.

Anderson returns to ‘Invasion’ on Apple TV+ and has roles in the movies ‘A Lot of Nothing’, which is streaming now, and Brad Furman’s ‘Tin Soldier’. Light years away from his neighborhood of Scarborough, he watches his mother struggle to make ends meet. But he says his path is a reminder that the tortoise won the race – not the hare.

“It’s looking at the little boy in me and saying, ‘I told you. It’s going to be all right,’ Anderson said. “It’s incredible to see the work pay off.”


Follow Associated Press entertainment journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton at: @GaryGHamilton on all of his social media platforms.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.