Photos Courtesy of True Talent Casting
Tyrell “Mello Dyme” Lewis has overseen True Talent Casting, an Atlanta based casting firm, since its inception in 2007. Mello is the Talent Manager, Co-Writer and Producer of the web drama “Steel River.” Jermaine Kamell is the Creator and Head Writer of the series which makes it worldwide wide debut later this month. “Steel River” is set in Atlanta; it captures the different emotions that are seen through the eyes of four black men in their quest to keep their personal dreams alive. Mello talked with PrideIndex about his transition into the entertainment industry, what he hopes to accomplish with this series and ultimate his goals for the future.
PRIDEINDEX (PI): Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you make the transition from being a wardrobe stylist to a producer and filmmaker?
MELLO DYME (MD): I’m from Bridgeport, CT. Once graduated, I moved and went to college in Richmond, VA in which I lived for a few years then moved to Atlanta. I started out modeling and acting, I’ve always worked in fashion. Most of my jobs consisted of fashion retail. My work ethic and experiences range from casting, booking, managing, styling, and/or producing, fashion shows, music videos, indie films parties and balls, which helped me to learn the “fields” in front of the camera and behind the camera. It allowed me to grow into all my current and future professions. My goal is to be a one stop service!
PI: When did you first know that you wanted to be in the entertainment industry?
MD: I knew I would be in the Entertainment Industry since I was a kid. I always wanted to do everything that I’m doing now.
PI: Where did you find the inspiration for “Steel River?”
MD: I’m the talent manager of the head writer/creator Jermaine Kamell, who in my opinion is one of the best writers I know. I starred in his first Indie film “Partly Cloudy.” We became a great team. His scripts are page turners. When I strongly believe in someone’s work, I make it my mission to help bring their vision to life. He wrote in the mind of me on this project, and from there we wrote from real life experiences.
PI: The down low (DL) and sexuality are themes covered in “Steel River.” What other issues do you cover?
MD: We cover friendships, relationships, the fields of entertainment, family, love, education but mainly and most importantly the point of view from a masculine male perspective of the alternative lifestyle.
PI: “Steel River” has an ensemble cast of young, handsome black men. Tell us about the casting process and the background of the cast.
MD: I held two private castings that were invite only. I personally handpicked the cast, because I worked with each of them in some shape, form or fashion. I’m the talent and/or personal manager for most of the lead and supporting characters such as Cort King who plays “Addison”, Jordan King who plays“Dexter”, Emani Williams “Terry”, Ira Carmichael “John”, Karras “KJ” Jordan “William”, Wesley Adams “Shelton, and Courtney Lane Maki “Michelle”. Brandon Anthony and I are good friends that are somewhat similar. His character “Ivan” is me all day so he was the perfect person for the role. Brittany Brackett “Paris” and I worked on Comedian Pierre Edwards horror/comedy “Slice”. Chance Williams “Rontae” guest starred in BET’s “Reed Between the Lines” HoratiousCroom “ Kadoe” and I worked on Tyler Perry’s “ For Better or Worse Season 2” for three months , we learned a lot from Mr. Perry which allowed me to be able to wear many hats on “Steel River.” You will see more True Talent and familiar faces in the second season.
PI: Are the actors all from the Atlanta area?
MD: No, most of them are not from Atlanta but do reside in the “A” or surrounding areas. Cort, Courtney and Jordan are from Georgia. Emani and Ira are from Baltimore. Wesley and KJ are from NY/NJ. Brandon resides in California.
PI: How many episodes did you film?
MD: We filmed 10 webisodes.
PI: How long did it take to complete a webisode?
MD: We shot everything in 6 days.
PI: Do you plan on promoting “Steel River” at gay pride events and film festivals?
MD: Yes, “Steel River” will go on a pride tour from now until June alongside one of our pride sponsors, “Tempted 2 Touch” Las Vegas. Steel River will be submitted to the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) which will be in Miami Beach, June 19-23 2013.
PI: What do you hope to accomplish with this series?
MD: I hope to make it a household name, be nominated, recognized and or win some awards, but the main goal is to have “Steel River” picked up by a major network, if not, we will film independently and help to build the Signal 23 TV brand alongside my talented director Henderson Maddox.
PI: Tell us about other web-series or projects that you are working on from Signal23 TV?
MD: I work behind the scenes in casting, producing and or wardrobe for a few projects for Signal 23 TV such as “The Label” in which you will see a few familiar faces from the True Talent brand, “Estrogen,” and “Man 2 Man.” I plan to help add more LGBT content, once my main priority, “Steel River” become a complete success.
PI: Are there plans down the road to develop “Steel River” into a television series? Why not?
MD: Yes, that’s the ultimate goal. I strongly feel that “Steel River” is a void that’s missing. Supporters that love this type of content have a hunger for it and I want to help feed it.
PI: If you were approached to develop “Steel River” into a television series by LOGO, Out TV or Here-TV what is the one thing that you would ask for before saying “yes?
MD: I don’t want to lose creative control and I would hope to keep some, if not all the dedicated cast and crew that is attached to the project.
PI: Is there anything else that you would like to say?
MD: First, I would like to say thank you for taking the time to give “Steel River” and myself a platform to be heard, I appreciate the support, and hope we can do this again on this or any other future projects.
Click here to watch the trailer of “Steel River.”