On Thursday, March 14th, I interviewed actor, dancer and businessman, among other things, Shedrack Anderson. Shedrack was introduced to me by Danny Deraney, who set up my 2015 interview with Lori Alan and my recently published interview with Maryam Henein. Shedrack Anderson made his film debut in an uncredited role in Hook, but that was just the beginning for him. He was a dancer for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Ballet Hispanico, he’s directed several movies, and he is one of the masterminds behind a new CBD-based health line called ChilYo. We discussed all that and more, and I hope you enjoy hearing his stories.
Say hello to Shedrack Anderson!
Johnny: Although you’re uncredited for it on IMDB, you made your film debut as a Lost Boy in Steven Spielberg’s Hook. What was your favorite part of working on that movie?
Shedrack: My favorite part of working on that film was being able to work alongside some of the greatest actors in history. I was working with Steven Spielberg, Bob Hoskins, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Robin Williams, of course. That was the greatest experience, being able to see them up close and personal being able to to do their craft. That was the most incredible experience. Also, I would say, the greatest experience was being on the sets. You know, back then there was no CGI, so all of the sets you saw were really real. There were huge ships. There were entire worlds that were created at that time because that was the era before computer graphics. Being a kid running around on all the different ships, and going into the town, and going to Neverland and seeing all the sets was truly a life-changing experience. I’ll hold that forever. I’ll always be a Lost Boy forever.
Johnny: Very cool. I know that Sony, at one point under the Guber/Peters era, were thinking of doing a theme park and having some of the sets from Hook be part of that. That would’ve been interesting. That leads to my next question: Although Hook was a critical and box office disappointment at the time of its’ release, the movie has become a milestone for people who came of age in the 90s, so what do you think has given the movie such staying power?
Shedrack: I think the staying power for the film is ultimately the longevity and the message that it brings, and the message is that you have to always continue to be young in everything that you do. I think that kids growing up in the 90s, we had this idea that you could stay young and you could live forever in your youth. I think we still, as far as that generation goes, try to bring that energy to the children that we now have, to our jobs, to our workplace, and ultimately, that’s why I started ChilYo. I wanted to show people that you can have this huge ability, just like young people do, and you can live stress-free. That’s the whole point to be able to have, no matter what. You may have environmental factors that are stressing you out, or potentially giving you wrinkles and not making you feel well. With the right food, with the right mindset, and the right products that you have, you can continue to have a happy life and thrive into old age. I think that was the key for Hook, and the key for ChilYo as well.
Johnny: Okay. I’ll ask more about ChilYo in a couple of questions, but first, you spent some time as a dancer. What led you to that field?
Shedrack: Well, it was really movement. I started as a martial artist when I was about seven years old, and I was always fascinated with body movement and moving. The people that I saw completely engaged in control of the body. For me, it took years and years of training and I understood that, and dance and martial arts are also very similar. When I was in high school, I had a couple of opportunities to dance, and I always loved performing. You know, as an entertainer, my idols were people like Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Rudolf Nureyev. I just loved all forms of dance, and I got the opportunity in high school to do a couple of dance jobs. I did them, I loved them, and I took it all the way. I wanted to completely learn all of these skills that it took to be a great dancer, so that’s why I got into dance, and ultimately how I got into Juilliard and danced professionally all the way around the world. It was a great gift for me, being able to share that.
(The above video is an example of Shedrack’s work as a choreographer.)
Johnny: Cool. As an assistant choreographer for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, what piece were you most proud of having helped develop?
Shedrack: Well, I worked with George Faison on his pieces that he did. Of course, he is famous for doing Suite Otis, as well as Giselle. Those were the really famous pieces that I had a hand in helping with, and those were wonderful. I also worked with Earl Mosley, who was another choreographer at the time, and working with those two choreographers was really instrumental as far as me being able to understand choreography, movement, and working with the incredible dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
Johnny: Alright. As a principal dancer with Ballet Hispanico of New York, what was your favorite production to be involved in with them?
Shedrack: My favorite production was Selena. It was a production of the life of the wonderful Mexican artist Selena, and I played her brother in the ballet. This was truly an incredible opportunity for me, and I learned so much about her perseverance and, of course, the tragedy that did happen, but I absolutely loved that dance company. Tina Ramirez was the founding director of the company, and the artistic director at the time really gave me a lot of leeway to be able to create my own characters in all of the ballets while I was there. Traveling around the world with a ballet company like Ballet Hispanico was truly wonderful for me.
Johnny: Cool. To go to my next question: You were a lead as the character of Jermaine on the series Just Deal. How did you get involved in that project, and what was your favorite episode of the show to work on?
Shedrack: Ooh boy, what a question. (Laughing) Okay, Just Deal. I was an actor, and I went in on an audition for NBC for the television show. They were looking for an actor who had charisma, but who was different at the time, because that TV show was the first teen drama they were going to try and experiment with on NBC. They wanted it to be a multicultural cast, so they had all of the other characters cast, and I went in and auditioned for the show. I got the job, and it was really awesome. We shot that show, and we got a lot of press and really broke a lot of ground with that show. It was the first ever multiracial teen show that was a drama to ever be on television, so that was great. I would say my favorite episode was the tattoo episode. There was an episode where Jermaine gets a tattoo, and he really comes into his own. He was biracial, so he was learning about his heritage and the differences between living as an African American and living as an Irish American, and I think that was really an important episode for a lot of kids out there who had never seen a mixed kid on television before. He could talk about the difference between a black dad and a white mom, and that was probably my favorite episode.
Johnny: Alright. Earlier, you mentioned the ChilYo skincare line, so could you go a little further into details on the origin of that line?
Shedrack: Yeah, so basically, ChilYo is a skincare line that I created with Karen Meyer. We’re just two friends who decided to get together and really try to be pioneers in environmental response skincare. That’s part of what we’re calling it, and we came up with it because I’m a martial artist, and at home, I would always create these different lathes and creams for myself growing up as a kid. Karen also had her different ingredients from her grandmother that she would put together, and one day we were training together. We looked up at the TV screen, and we saw that there were a whole bunch of green products, and we said okay. Now is the time to include CBD as an ingredient, and we wanted to include that ingredient, so we set out to figure that out, and we did it. We put these products together, and what we ultimately wanted to do was to combine these ancient healing techniques with modern science to make products to heal the mind and body. We have four products that are out. We have a mist, which is like a spray. We have a balm, which is awesome if you have any aches and pains. We have a face and neck cream you can use every day. We also have an ion-based serum you can use.
Johnny: Alright. ChilYo does have hemp in it, and as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned of how hemp can help people who are dealing with health issues, whether it’s skincare like ChilYo or the health benefits of medical marijuana. If hemp products can help people’s health, why do you think programs like D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) tell us that marijuana is bad?
Shedrack: Well, I think there has to be a distinction between hemp and marijuana first.
Johnny: Oh, I’m sorry.
Shedrack: No problem. Cannabis as a plant grows male and female. We’re talking about the male plant, which is the hemp plant. Now, there is the female plant, the marijuana plant. That plant is the one that D.A..R.E is talking about. It’s not legal in all 50 states. The hemp plant is legal in all 50 states, so the male version of the cannabis plant is legal in all 50 states. It’s in our products, full spectrum hemp CBD. It’s sold nationwide with free shipping. I think that’s the kind of misinformation the public needs to understand. There are two different types of plants here. The marijuana plant, the female plant, is illegal. They don’t agree with it yet, and really, it’s because of the THC content. That’s the thing because that is a potential psychoactive drug, and all that means is that it potentially can make you high, so that’s the difference. In the hemp plant, it can’t make you high. There are no psychoactive ingredients inside of the hemp plant to make you high, so the reason why it’s legal nationwide is because the THC content is .3, so there’s practically no THC in the hemp plant, whereas in the marijuana plant it’s 10 times as high. That’s the difference, and I think that’s why D.A.R.E is choosing to do that as opposed to the hemp plant.
Johnny: Thank you for the clarification on that. I assumed it was all the same, so I definitely learned something about that today. Thank you for that. I go to my next question: To jump back into the entertainment industry, you’ve spent some time as a director, most notably with the 2010 horror movie Blood River, which reunited you with your Hook costar Dante Basco. What has directing provided for you that acting has not?
Shedrack: Oh, wow. Well, being a director really melds all of the different arts together. As an example, I’m a singer/dancer/actor/musician/composer/etc., so because I have all of these different things I like to do as art, as a director you can combine them all together and you can put them in one medium. Being a director really gives you the advantage of telling a story, as opposed to having one part where you’re being directed by someone. Being the director allows you to tell the story, and you can do that with music, with movement, with the actor, the singer, the musician, the visual artist. You really have a full arsenal to be able to tell your story, so being a director is really special. You tell that story and it’s really powerful. Working with Dante and a lot of my other friends I had on that film was really a dream come true for me, because for us to be children and then, over 20 years later, to still be working in the entertainment industry really gives a sense of pride, as well as a brotherhood that will last throughout our lives.
Johnny: Okay. To jump back to Hook for a moment, why weren’t you credited for it on IMDB?
Shedrack: I don’t know. That’s really weird. I think it took me a long time to even get online and go into the social media aspects. With IMDB, I’m not sure why they didn’t credit me. I thought it was kind of weird, but you can clearly see me in the film. I was one of the Lost Boys, and I even have all of my old pictures and all that stuff. It’s funny. Steven Spielberg called me Fabric Softener, so we all kind of had names as the Lost Boys, and my Lost Boy name was Fabric Softener. That’s pretty strange. I don’t know.
Johnny: Okay. Well, one IMDB credit you do have as a participant was the 75th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2001. What did you do in that parade, and was it nerve-wracking to be performing on a cold day in New York City?
Shedrack: (Laughing) Yeah. I was on Just Deal, the show we had on NBC, and I was promoting the show on NBC that year. That’s why I was in the Macy’s parade. My costar Brian Skala and I had a seesaw horse that we had to sit on, and we had to sit on that seesaw horse the entire time while we were in the parade. We had to wave and scream at people and say hi and Happy Thanksgiving and all that. It was freezing cold, but you know what? The joy that we had to be in that type of experience…We didn’t even think about the cold. We were just happy to be there.
Johnny: Very interesting. It seems as though the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the last examples of variety television that we still have in the entertainment industry today, as pretty much all the variety shows and specials have fallen by the wayside in favor of reality television and more serious shows, so it’s very interesting that they still have that parade. To go to my next question, what talents, whether they’re actors or directors, would you most like to work with that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Shedrack: Well, I think I would definitely like to work with Samuel L. Jackson. He’s someone that I feel has a lot of energy, and is just a great overall actor that I really admire. I would love to work with Morgan Freeman. I think he’s a gem, an American diamond, and while we have him I’d like to do something with him. Those would be the two that I would love to work with at this point.
Johnny: Alright. I now come to my final question: With all the talents you have, what talent do you have that you haven’t been able to show off yet, but hope to do so in the future?
Shedrack: (Laughing) Wow. Okay. I think the singing aspect, I guess you would call it talent, is something I really want to do, and what I would like to do is do an album and bring back either funk or ballads. As a kid, I always loved love songs. I’m a true romantic at heart, and I’ve always loved real love songs from the 70s all the way up, and I would love to bring back some of that style of truly bringing a love song into play. I’d love to do an album eventually at some point in the future about those songs, so everybody can be stress-free, be happy and love each other.
Johnny: Sounds good to me. If you ever do a Kickstarter for it, I’ll back it.
Shedrack: Cool, man. That’s it. I like all that. That’s what we do.
I would again like to thank Shedrack Anderson for taking the time to do this interview, and I would like to thank Danny Deraney for helping to set it up. More information on Chilyo can be found on their official website.
Shedrack Anderson also has his own show on Amazon Prime called The Daily Chil With Shedrack, so you can check that out as well.
Thank you as always for reading, and stay tuned as I’ll be doing a lot of flashing back in the weeks to come.