According to himself, actor Christopher Meyer unexpectedly became the cute boy next door. He always thought of himself growing up as the goofy, fun kid on the block, but one day he was recast. The potential had been neglected by a role, which he had assigned himself. And so it became, that this modest boy with a complex web of ideas, took up a foot in each corner of the arts. Photographer Ashley Frangie captures the actor in the desolate hills of Los Angeles - balancing on the fine lines of the congested city and its dry-patched peaks.
At only 21, he discusses profound ideas and thoughts with ease. After falling in and out of love for the first time, he says; “I’m still not ready.” A boy that balances on the edge of manhood is startlingly synced with his own mind and body. He is realising that the tightrope is thinning, and that the next step may very well be the faithful glitch that throws him straight into the stronghold of manhood, so he is carefully holding back, waiting for the moment to finally let go. Stylist Veronica Graye curates Chris in 70s inspired striped flares and fresh yellow tones, accentuating that he is at the time of his life.
This boy has a need and “obligation” to express. With a role on season four of the Golden Globe award winning show ‘The Affair’ alongside Dominic West, Ruth Wilson and Joshua Jackson this summer, Chris has proven his determination. Over the years Chris has carved himself a snug space on the small screen with roles on popular shows such as ‘The Fosters,’ ‘NCIS: New Orleans,’ ‘Wayward Pines’ and so forth. Besides acting, rap has become a second platform for this young artist to express the things he needs to express, as this boy has many a thing stirring on his mind.
Most of the time we see you acting as other people, so who is the real Christopher Meyer?
Honestly, the real Christopher is just a kid from Brooklyn who fell in love with art and whose mission is to push the culture forward. He can be goofy at times and he can be the cool kid at times. I’m a very big nerd and I’m not afraid to say it. I watch cartoons more than I watch normal TV. I love sports, and I love my friends - they play a big part in my life.
How was it like growing up in Brooklyn?
It was amazing - I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. I want to go back to finish my life there. My experience was really good. I grew up on the east side of Brooklyn, which is not the nicest place in the world - but my parents are hard-workers and they did give me the best childhood I could ask for. I also lived in a townhouse with four of my god-brothers and sisters, and three of my cousins lived next door, so yeah - early childhood was a lot of fun, even when it wasn’t the best of times.
Family is important. What makes you happy?
Seeing the people I love happy. In any way that they might be: because of their success, because of the moment. I always try to make sure that everyone’s having a good time. Also what makes me happy is acting. Being on set and knowing that I’m making something that’s going to move people.
How did you get into acting?
I had a best friend named Dondre Tuck - he is an actor himself - he caught the bug. He has always loved Will Smith and so have I, and so we really connected over Will Smith and Dragon Ball Z. I used to watch the Fresh Prince religiously - I still do - I was watching season six last night. When I was around nine years old I was a big class clown, I would watch him say something funny, pause it, and I would go to the mirror and then practice that line over and over again until I thought it was really funny. Then I would go to school and say the lines he said on TV. One day we went to a church and the church was putting on a play, so they asked if anyone wanted to come in and audition. To Dondre I was like; “Dude, we should do it!” He went; “Why not?” We go, we do it - it was a musical. I don’t really remember this, but my mum tells this story a lot. She says that after I got off the stage for the first time, I came up to her and said; “Mum, I know what I want to do for the rest of my life.” And she just looked at me; “Okay, you’re nine years old, I’m sure you don’t.” I went; “I want to be an actor!” The following years I trained really hard, I went to an art school with my best friend Dondre, I did 17 plays, I built sets, wrote scripts and from then on, I was addicted.
You’re set to appear in the fourth season of 'The Affair', what can you reveal about your character Anton Gatewood and the season in general? Must be a bit secretive.
You know what? I’ve been realising how secretive it is the last couple of days. Everything’s quite hush hush, which I can understand why - they’re doing a lot of promo. What I can say about character Anton is that he is a brilliant young scholar. He is very smart - he is actually supposed to be in college, not in high school, but I can’t tell you why that is - you’ll figure it out. You’re going to see how smart he is and that he knows what he is talking about, but he is definitely smarter than we think he is, and it’s kind of scary. I think he plays a very pivotal role in the main character Noah’s change and struggle - it has a lot to with him seeing a lot of himself in Anton. That’s really all I should say…
Well, that sounds intriguing. How did you prepare for this smart kid? Do you have sort of a general preparation process?
I think it varies for every character. For Anton, there wasn’t really much preparation other than placing myself in his shoes. The difference between Anton and I is that he was trying to go to college and I totally wasn’t. I definitely could have gone to college, but I chose not to. He is just like any other high school kid. His mum is a bit of a problem and he definitely has a chip on his shoulder. Preparing to play him was mostly about creating his backstory and writing down his whole biography - just putting myself in his shoes. I think Dominic West and so on helped me a lot. But the character hits home, there isn’t much difference between him and I. As far as my general preparation - it can go as far as immersing myself in the environment of the character.
What are you passionate about besides acting?
All forms of art intrigue me. I’m in love with music - I rap myself. I’ve been in love with Hip Hop since I was a kid. After basketball, that was my first love. I love painting - going to art galleries and exhibitions. I plan to one day be a movie producer, simply because there are so many projects that I see on a daily basis or weekly basis that don’t get enough of a shot and that should definitely get a lot more shine. There are artists out there who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve, so one day I want to have a part in getting those projects out to the world. I’m all about art – period. Fashion - you will catch me at your local runway. I plan on having a hand in everything - I think acting’s just a doorway.
A need to express. What do you usually rap about?
Sometimes I tell stories, whether it’s over one song or multiple songs. Sometimes I tell stories about my life. My life is a movie in itself. Just the fact that I’m from pretty much nowhere, and I’ve come to this place in LA and I’m earning way more money than I thought I would be earning in my life, is incredible. A lot of people from where I’m from don’t really have that many options. We’re already born into life at a disadvantage, and the fact that I’m doing well for myself, is something I rap about a lot. I rap about the dark times too, because I know that there are a lot of people out there who go through dark times. I rap about everything. I never rap about something I don’t understand and I also try to stay away from the stereotypical things, even if it’s so easy to fall into. Acting and rapping are the greatest ways for me to express myself. Over the last year, I’ve come to a realisation that I need to express myself. It’s an obligation that I have to the world and to everyone around me.
What do you fear?
I fear, honestly, not succeeding. I think that is a big fear of mine. I’m 21 years old and I’m at the time of my life. I’m starting to take initiative for myself and now I’m in the process of moving out. I’m growing into a man and there’s a lot of pressure on me. There are family things. It’s my dad and my mum needing help. I think a big fear of mine is not succeeding, but more so that I’m not able to what I love, as an actor. You work very hard to get to a place where you don’t have to be an actor for hire - meaning you’re just doing whatever comes to you as opposed to doing what you want to do. My fear is not being able to do what I want to do, and being in a bind and just doing things because I have to. I don’t want to fit the mould; I want to be outside of the box.
Who influences you?
Will Smith - that’s an easy one. Fresh Prince of Bel Air influences me a ton because it was a time when Will Smith was subconsciously manifesting the rest of his future. The funny and fly energy that he has, it’s something I think the world of art gravitates to: being so grounded and comfortable with oneself that you can be that good looking and that fly at the same time. Obviously, at his age now, the way he speaks to us and his obligation to sharing his experiences is a beautiful thing to me. It’s pretty much watching my idol give game to the world. I would say people like Jay-Z and Kobe Bryant influences me. A big influence of mine, that people don’t always get, is Shia LeBeouf. If there is one actor I aspire to be like - not so much his personal life but his career – it’s Shia LeBeouf. Another person would be Tom Hardy. I ran into him and Leonardo DiCaprio once in the Soho house elevator. I totally fangirled.
Haha, that is quite understandable. You appeared in season 5 of 'The Fosters', what attracted you to the role of Logan Bayfield?
I mean, everything. He was the cute boy next door. He had this relationship with a beautiful young woman. He was the star football player. An all around stud. I just found it really fun since I was little I always thought of myself as a goofy kid. Suddenly I started getting cast as the cute boy next door and I was like; “Wait, really?” So I was like; “I’m going to have some fun this…” What really drew me to the role though was getting to work with familiar faces. Cierra Ramirez and Noah Centineo I’ve known for years. Noah actually went to my art school in south Florida with me, and had moved there a year prior to me. He is one of my best friends, so going to set every day seeing one of your best friends, that’s amazing. I had actually been auditioning for 'The Fosters' for years, and then when I got this audition I thought; “This one seems right. I’m going to really try and get this.” And I did.
In “NCIS: New Orleans,” you play Danny Maloy who becomes a foster kid after his parents are murdered, how did you get into the mindset and trauma of Danny?
With characters that don’t really resonate with me, I create a lot of their story and background myself. Although I don’t live that life myself, because of where I grew up in New York and also where I lived later in south Florida, I have a lot of people close to me who have been through traumatic events and so I get to pull from them. Also, one of my biggest explanations for that is just God. A lot of people will see me act on screen and ask; “Where did you pull that from?” My only explanation is God. It’s a God-given thing. Obviously, there is a lot of work that goes into it, but for me to be able to draw it out at a moment’s notice, my only explanation is God.
Is religion important to you?
Pure definition of religion? Not really. If you’re talking about reading the Bible and going to church every week, it’s important, but I think my personal relationship with God is more important. I kind of moved from being off the book to internal. My mum is a very religious person: church every Sunday, church choir, Bible, and all of it. She instilled values in me that will forever be there, but growing up I’ve definitely perceived my own idea of God and who he is to me. It’s just more of a personal thing right now. It definitely plays a big part in my life, my work - the biggest factor.
Do you consider yourself an emotional person?
Yes. I don’t always show it. I’ve been realising over the last couple of months that I definitely wear a mask at times. A lot of my friends and such look up to me for energy and guidance, and I’ve had that poker face on. I’m becoming a lot more aware of what’s going on inside and yes; I’m definitely an emotional person.
Is the mask breaking?
The mask is definitely breaking, but at the same time I don’t think the mask is necessarily a bad thing because it enables people to feel secure around me. I think it was bad when I wore the mask 24/7, but now I don’t do that anymore, now I’m a lot more vulnerable. I think the fact that I’m aware of me wearing a mask is moving in a direction where I can address that situation in myself.
How do you define masculinity and do you think how we traditionally view masculinity is changing?
My definition of masculinity is a man with strength, courage, honour who is a provider. A man takes initiative. He is assertive. Masculinity is changing, or changed, period. The narrative is changing. Masculinity is being able to be all of that but also being able to be sensitive and vulnerable. It’s wrong to tell a kid to stop crying. Obviously, it’s a tactic to get him to stop crying, but overall I think it’s wrong. Men are allowed to cry and definitely allowed to be sensitive. The world is changing, so I think that the definition of masculinity is changing as well.
You’re living in a politically divided country at the moment, what is your experience as a young man? Are you optimistic?
Optimistic? I’m going to be real with you: not really. Hopeful? Yes. Optimistic? Not so much. I think things are eventually going to get better. Will I be alive to see it? Who knows? Things don’t change until you take that step forward, which I think I’m in - that’s my whole mission - through art. I think a lot of people sleep on how important art is. A two-hour film can create such an affect. My experience as a young man isn’t too bad, but I have friends with horrible experiences. Literally horrible. I know how bad it can be, but for me it has been all right. I’m hopeful for the future. I think we’re all becoming more aware.
Have you ever been in love, and if so, how would you visualise falling in love?
The first thing that comes to mind is a flower blooming, but then everything that goes into the flower being able to bloom. The entire universe coming to this one seed. When you meet someone you fall in love with, I feel like the whole universe is on your side. It’s two people growing in the same exact direction. You’re also talking to a dude who just got out of a relationship… I think falling in love is a beautiful thing and I think it’s something not everybody’s ready for. But in the end, you’re never ready. You’re never ready for that! It’s only ever happened to me once, I’m still young, but right now I have no desire for it to happen again. It’s not like it was a bad thing - I grew a lot. I was just always one of those guys who had no interest in it. It was just not on my mind. I was always very honest with myself about the fact that I wasn’t ready. Now I know what comes with it - the responsibility - and once again, I’m still not ready. I’m not at a place in life where I can fully commit to loving somebody that way. Falling in love can be the most beautiful thing in the world but also the most terrifying, hurtful thing in the world. It just depends on your experience.
Terrifying and lovely all at the same time, isn’t that how it is with all the good things in life?
And Will Smith said it the best; “The most blissful, beautiful things are at the other side of terror and horror.”