Crescent City was the backdrop when the curtain first raised on this up-and-coming star’s career. Nicoye Banks was first bit by the acting bug while in the sixth grade as the winner of a poetry contest in which he performed “The Creation” by James Weldon Johnson. In the same year, he landed his first play as the role of “Travis” in Raisin in the Sun. A few years later, he was casted in his first film, “Heart of Stone”, with noteworthy actor Clifton Davis (Amen). He portrayed a wayward teenager who was sent to a boy’s home as an alternative to jail, to make a positive life change.
Nicoye’s performance in “The Colored Museum”, at Southern University of New Orleans afforded him the opportunity to display his range by playing a number of diverse characters. It was then when Tommye Myrick (Director of theatre at Southern University of New Orleans), recognized Nicoye’s immense talent and encouraged him to relocate to New York to further his training in theatre under the direction of Myrick’s mentor, the late Gene Frankel.
Nicoye has continuously demonstrated his ability to play a wide range of characters, including his role as the flamboyant rap artist “B. Mo Smoov” in the 2005 release of “G”, co-starring along-side actor, Blair Underwood and Richard T. Jones. In 2006, Nicoye co-starred in the Walt Disney Pictures blockbuster movie, “Invincible” with Mark Walhberg. His work has been seen in such plays as Zooman and the Sign, A Hatful of Rain, Death of a Salesman, Trapped, Same Train and Greenwood and Soil, just to name a few. He has also secured recurring roles on ABC’s One Life to Live as physical therapist Dr. Grey and NBC’s Law & Order.
In 2009, Nicoye ventured back to his roots of performance theatre playing the role of Sweet in a the critically acclaimed play, The High Priestess of Dark Alley”, at the legendary Billie Holiday Theatre, in New York. “High Priestess” was written and directed by Jackie Alexander. He is presently co-starring in the thriller “The Green Zone”, alongside Matt Damon, where he plays “Sgt. Perry”, an E.O.D. Specialist in a special unit in Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction. Nicoye is also set to play the role of “Slim” in the Antoine Fuqua directed film “Brooklyn’s Finest”, starring Ethan Hawk, Richard Gere, Wesley Snipes and Don Cheadle.
When not busy with movies, television, stage plays and family, Nicoye devotes his time to helping and empowering his community, as one of the founding members of the artist collective group called “The Standard”, where he serves as Creative Director. Their mission is to serve as a source of inspiration and support and provide a space for individual exploration and discovery nourished by a collective commitment to growth as an artistic community. He also began the workshop program called “The Art of the Craft” that recently launched in Westbury High School. The program is designed to empower and enhance the actors artistry in every form of the word. The goal is to take this program from school to school and from city to city and keep the love of the “art” alive.
Later this Spring, Nicoye returns to the small screen appearing on NBC’s Law & Order Criminal Intent, playing the role of “Lil’ Ron” under the episode “Inhumane Society”. As Nicoye Banks continues on his quest to becoming a household name, one thing remains; the sky is the limit for his future.
In this UrbanBridgez.com Interview, Nicoye talks to Aries about his new films, becoming an actor, advice for up-coming actors, music and much more! Get to know this up-coming talent!
UrbanBridgez.com: For those of us who have not seen Brooklyn’s Finest, what is it about?
Nicoye Banks: You got the life and times basically of three cops. Individual stories that are kind of all intertwined with each other. Very dramatic, it’s pretty heart wrenching. It’s a gripping story to say the least! You get a real look at what they’re going through and what their challenges are. And their motivation on behind what they’re doing. At three different points and stages in their career.
UrbanBridgez.com: How was it working with the all star cast?
Nicoye Banks: Man it was great! My scene was with Wesley and Don. So to be able to sit down with them and watch them and to put it all together and make it happen. And me be an instrumental part of it, it was an honor as well as a nice challenge. There you have it, now you on the big stage! In the big leagues now, know what I’m sayin (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: Oh yeah, now let’s talk Green Zone, what is this movie about?
Nicoye Banks: Oh my goodness, this is an action thriller that takes place in Iraq in 2003. What is it that we find, what is it that we do not find. I was the only actor besides Matt Damon who isn’t a real solider and didn’t serve in the war. The other men of this special unit they’re actually real solders and served in the war. What a challenge and honor it was for me to make this film.
UrbanBridgez.com: You star alongside Matt Damon which is kinda a big deal, how was the experience of working with him?
Nicoye Banks: Yeah that’s a big deal, that’s a big deal (laughs). I say this all the time, working with Matt is like going to the bar and sit down and watch the fight. And you just strike up a conversation with the guy sitting next to you. Turns out wow, that was Matt Damon. Know what I mean, at the end of the day this dude is such a chill kat. Around the way dude, not pretentious what so ever, very humble and extremely smart!
UrbanBridgez.com: What made you interested in the role in it?
Nicoye Banks: Matt Damon (laughs)! Case closed, they said Matt Damon, I was like enough said!
UrbanBridgez.com: How did you get your start in acting?
Nicoye Banks: Man I began way back in the 6th grade. What made me really take it serious is I wasn’t developing the way I wanted to be for the athlete I wanted to be. So I said I was gonna stick to the speech and debate competitions and see where this takes me. And it has taken me alot of places man. Then one day I just decided around like 20, I’m going to take this serious. I didn’t want to go to Law School like I was saying I did. So I focused and God started to open doors man.
UrbanBridgez.com: Advice for those interested in acting.
Nicoye Banks: Once you commit to this animal called acting, the beast requires so much feeding you’re going to feel like you just don’t have it. So if you’re in a limbo, enjoy your limbo and enjoy sort of time to figure it all out. because once you get serious and want to pursue this on a professional level, then it gets harsh! The rejections, requirements and networking and amount of money and self examination and things of that nature. Can be very stressful to your soul. Then once you start to actually working then all of that stuff is put on a test almost everytime you set out. Am I doing the right thing? Those questions will run through your mind, Are you really happy and does this really bring you joy? Or are you doing it for paychecks and the hot boyfriend or girlfriend.
UrbanBridgez.com: Working with so many big names, what’s been the best advice you’ve gotten from one of the actors you’ve had the chance to work with?
Nicoye Banks: Something that registers in my heart. I was talking to Antoine Fuqua we were doing some ADR work. I told him I wanted to learn and he said you know what man, he said I’m going to tell you this. Always be on time and always be on your shit! Because everybody is watching, to the sound guy, make-up artist, all the way on up. Eyes and ears you don’t even see or hear! So when you are on your shit, people are paying attention to that! You wanna be like, personable, etc. Because you never know, how you handle each gig could get you your next job. All because of how you were & how you present yourself. But that goes back to what grandma use to say (laughs). It comes full circle.
UrbanBridgez.com: Let’s talk music for a second. Who are some of your favorite artists and what songs are you bumping right now?
Nicoye Banks: Oh man, I go from the classic Hip-Hop to today’s, R&B and Jazz. I’m all about those. I could have Anita Baker while I’m getting dress, then some Will Downing. Then of course I gotta have my Lil Wayne of course, New Orleans, he gets me hyped! Drake is doing stuff that I really enjoy. That dude is cold!
UrbanBridgez.com: Yeah I like his new single “Over”
Nicoye Banks: Right, it’s Over, what?! Yeah he’s cold! I like Trey Songz as well, he be jammin. We was jammin to him last night on the party bus!
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s next for you?
Nicoye Banks: Looking forward to shooting this new independent film called “Changing The Game,” then in the fall I’m going back to the stage. To perform at the Billie Holiday theater in Brooklyn. Then I’m going to produce a play I did last year “The High Priestess of Dark Alley,” I’m looking to take that on tour. Hopefully we end in Manhattan and get an off Broadway run, that would be beautiful!
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Nicoye Banks: Keep your eyes and ears open for me, because I’m here! I may be cool and quiet, but just get up-close and personal it gets deep because it’s real!