Revisting the contents of a teenage diary is often a pained experience and, for the most part, what you absent-mindedly scribbled down before Year Nine classes probably wasn’t prophetic. At least that’s what I tell myself, as I sit here — secondary school lessons just a memory — still not married to a Jonas Brother. Chatting with Shameik Moore, it becomes evident that at that age he had a clearer vision of what his future would be.
Years ago, Moore took to the pages of his journal to wish his aspirations into existence, and now — with a little hard work — his premonition has come true. Currently doing the rounds promoting his upcoming role, the 23-year-old Atlanta-born actor is starring as Miles Morales in the brand new animated Spidey flick, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Following the story of the teenage Morales as he learns how to manage his spider-abilities (with help from OG Spider-Man Peter Parker, voiced by Jake Johnson) the forthcoming feature will be the young black Spider-Man’s debut on the silver screen.
“Growing up when I first found out about [Miles], I was like ‘Yo, this is fire, I would definitely want to play this role,’ which is why I wrote it in my journal,” Moore explains over the phone. “There’s a kid who’s going to be at home and look at Spider-Man like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know there was a black Spider-Man. And his name is Miles Morales. My name is Miles! I have curly hair like that! I wear those shoes or I wear hoods like that or my dad acts like that too!’ Kids can relate.”
Not only is Moore joining the Spider-Man legacy and the alumni of famous actors who have played the iconic role, but as the first ever black Spider-Man he has morphed into a role model for young children of colour who are finally able to recognise superheroes who look like them onscreen. “It’s been amazing, it really has,” he says of his new found responsibility. “The other day I accidentally said Miles Morales is black and Mexican when he’s really black and Puerto Rican and a lot of fans reached out to me. And they’re right! His story deserves to be told properly. These people love Miles Morales and you need to say it right, so the responsibility is huge. People want this story to be told properly, and I want this story to be told properly.”
Rather than shying from the spotlight, Moore’s settling in for the long-haul, with the belief that he was always destined to be there. “Luckily I was blessed with natural talent, you know?” He tells me, matter-of-factly. I stifle a laugh — the British reflex to anything said with unabashed confidence — but Moore doesn’t see his boldness as anything comical. When you’re straddling both acting and music, a level of self-assurance is required, and Moore’s complete belief in his upcoming “five-year plan” is unshakable. “Ultimately I want to be a great mix between Michael Jackson and Denzel [Washington],” he elaborates. “I don’t think there’s ever really been an artist to balance the two. I feel like that’s really what I’m about to hit everybody with. I’m not rushing, because when I come, I want it to be consistent… so when I get to the top, I’m not coming down.”
His ascent is well underway. With Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse set to impact at the end of this year, Moore is also starring in next year’s Cut Throat City. Centred around Hurricane Katrina, Moore will play Blink, a native of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. “It’s a heist,” he begins, “well, not a heist — we do rob some casinos — but it’s about Hurricane Katrina and life before then and after then… I’m excited because it’s a moment in history and I hope that the people from New Orleans feel like I represent [Blink] well in spirit. I think that’s iconic and totally different in contrast to Spider-Man. I want to be well-versed as an actor.”
With his mixtape Worth The Risk due to land later this year, Moore’s not kidding when he says he wants to be a Jackson/Washington hybrid. As seen on his previous releases “Bounce” and “Ride The Beat”, here’s hoping it’ll be a collection of infectious R&B delicacies. He’s wary of the stereotype of yet another actor having a go at music though. “It’s the fact that I’m as talented as I am and I feel like I have to reprove myself to everyone and somehow break this barrier where people are like: ‘He’s too good of an actor to make music on this scale,’” he bemoans. “People will compare me to Childish Gambino, or Justin Timberlake, or Drake, but nobody has done the type of acting that I’m doing, that I’m going to do, and is the performer that I am.”
The kid who wrote “I’m gonna be Spider-Man” in his journal isn’t done realising his dreams just yet. With that in mind: Nick/Joe/Kevin, if you’re reading this, give me a call, yeah?
Photography - Jerry Buttles
Fashion - Trudy Nelson
Hair - Dylan Chavles
Makeup - Holly Silius
Photography Assistant - Anthony Gonzalez
With thanks to Richie Davis and Josh Landau
Wonderland Magazine Autumn 2018 Issue