Kamil McFadden is not your average 19 year old. While other guys around his age are just beginning to figure out what they want to do in life, Kamil is already successfully working in his career and is planning his next one. Kamil McFadden stars as Ernie Cooper in the Disney Channel hit show, K.C. Undercover, currently airing its second season. Kamil does a remarkable job portraying his character, Ernie. He and Ernie even have a few things in common. They both wear glasses, both are driven and smart, and they both know what its like to have a successful older sibling. That’s where the differences end. I caught up with Kamil while he was running errands with his mom in California.
Kamil lives in California most of the year because of his filming schedule, but he was quick to state, “Atlanta is home for me.” Kamil and his family moved to College Park when he was only months old. Raised by his mother, with help from his grandmother, Kamil could not imagine growing up any where else.
“It impacted who I am as a person. Atlanta instilled some of the values of kindness, respectfulness, hospitality and a great work ethic that I have today. I still have that hospitality. People tell my mom that they enjoy working with me and that I’m down to earth.” The depth of the love that Kamil has for his mother is evident when he speaks of her. “My mom is amazing. She is my superhero.” He credits his mom’s sacrifice and her encouragement for allowing him and his brother, Kimario, to realize their dreams. She is a role model of strength and perseverance for him. While growing up, she imbued Kamil and Kimario with the confidence that they would need in order to compete and be successful in challenging fields. Kimario currently plays in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “She put her all into us and our dreams. To see that strength, she exhibited a lot of strength, that’s why we are so confident. She cultivated it. I appreciated everything that she did. There are not enough words in the world to express how grateful I am to her.”
Because Kamil’s talent was recognized at an early age, it was suggested that Kamil audition for the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta (YEA). “They helped mold my skills. They helped me become the actor that I am today.” They also helped him develop his burgeoning dancing and singing skills. His first professional performance was in Atlanta in a play on the Morehouse College campus called Times; it dealt with issues regarding HIV and AIDS. Theatre is still one of Kamil’s passions, but not the only one. “I fell in love with comedy during our Urban Holiday Soup performances, which is YEA’s annual sketch comedy show.” Growing up in Atlanta, Kamil couldn’t help but to develop an appreciation for music. He made use of his newly developed singing skills from YEA very quickly. In 2010, Kamil performed in I Dream, a musical drama about the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. I Dream; debuted at the Alliance Theater and was directed by Jasmine Guy. “It was a great experience. I’m glad that I was able to be a part of it,” he reflects. Kamil and Jasmine Guy would work together again four years later, but this time as peers on the set of his TV show, K.C. Undercover. “She didn’t recognize me. I’ve gotten taller and older. My voice is deeper.”
As Kamil continues to reflect on his varied accomplishments, he remembers that his mother encouraged him to write down his dreams, so that he would have tangible goals to work towards. One of the goals he wrote down was to work with Tyler Perry. A few weeks after completing that exercise, Kamil accomplished it by successfully auditioning for Tyler Perry Studios. He landed two episodes on the House of Payne. “That was an amazing experience.” One would think that working around big named celebrities would have Kamil star struck, but knowing his craft and doing a good job comes first for him. “It’s not about who else was there [on set]. It’s about me and my performance.” He also realized early on, “They [celebrities] are just regular people. They are known for their talents, but they are just normal people”. Armed with these facts has mentally leveled the playing field for Kamil. Not only has he showcased his talents on stage and the small screen, but he also has seen success on the big screen. One of his most remembered roles on the big screen is as Bumpty, a standout and hilarious character who plays alongside Chris Rock in Grown Ups 2.
Kamil’s advice to aspiring actors is straightforward and simple. “To all the aspiring actors, do what you love and just go for it. Believe in yourself. You have to have confidence and determination. You will have to be ready to sacrifice, if it’s something that you really want. You have to have perseverance. You will get a lot of “No’s” in this business. You shouldn’t take it as rejection. You have to keep grinding. Believe in yourself.” Kamil’s success did not happen overnight. He learned not to internalize it when he didn’t get parts. He was told “No” multiple times over his first three years after relocating to California. “I take that as a blessing. Those ‘No’s’ help prepare me for projects that were for me, like Grown Ups2. I felt as though that part was for me.” It took five years of hearing “No” from Disney, before he received his Yes. Kamil understood though, that it was not personal. He realized that the roles that he did not attain, were roles that were not meant for him. His preparation had to line up with just the right opportunity and his perseverance paid off with attaining his role on K.C. Undercover.
Kamil’s dreams don’t stop there. At some point, he would like to go to college and study foreign languages. “I also want to get into other areas of the business as well; writing, directing, producing, and maybe even music.” Perhaps he’ll even have a studio in Atlanta one day. The sky is the limit for this rising star. Kamil thanks his fans for their support and invites them to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @Kamil_McFadden. Watch Kamil, as Ernie Cooper, on K.C. Undercover on the Disney Channel or DisneyChannel.com.