Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:13 pm
If they’re fans of the FOX drama series “Empire,” some of L. Maxwell McKissick’s marketing and public relations clients might think he looks oddly familiar.
That’s because McKissick, founding principal of Blue Jade Branding Inc. and the nonprofit organization SERVE 60, has been working his way into the entertainment industry over the past two years. McKissick landed a recurring role in the show’s first two seasons as a finance executive at the fictional company Empire Entertainment, and later appeared as a fictional Pepsi marketing executive. In total, he’s appeared in 10 episodes of the show.
“I have always been a bit of a walking dichotomy,” McKissick said. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a ravenous appetite for reading and literature. The only thing interesting me more than reading was film and television. I truly feel that’s what led me to and helped me gravitate towards working in the creative industry – advertising, public relations, marketing.”
Because of his job as a marketing professional and his experience setting up radio and television advertisements, McKissick became familiar with certain casting agencies and occasionally was notified they were looking for actors to fill particular roles. In the summer of 2014, he decided to try to fill a role himself, and has since made several appearances on the show “Empire.” Eventually, he also landed a role this spring on a crossover episode between NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” and “Law & Order SVU” as chief of detectives.
Since the shows are filmed in Chicago and McKissick has clients in both Milwaukee and Chicago, he said it hasn’t been difficult to work his schedule around filming sessions. He said he wanted to take the roles as a way to learn as much as he could about the industry “from the ground up,” because his ultimate ambition is to one day start producing his own film and television content.
And he’s already close to making that dream a reality: he’s currently writing a play with a castmate from “Empire” they’re hoping to debut in 2017.