At what age did you start acting?
"I started acting professionally at 24, though I'd done some things in high school including 1st place city of Houston pantomime."
When did you realize you dealt with depression?
"I knew I needed help but was clinically diagnosed as severely depressed 3 years ago. I asked for references and was given 3 business cards by my regular doctor. 2 had photos and different artwork. 1 was a plain white card with name and PhD, address and number. I took that one and took myself to the office. I was embarrassed to do it but my life and that of my children depended on it."
Do you think being an actor gives you that outlet to express yourself? What does it do for you?
"Being an actor is difficult in a sense that sometimes art imitates life and sometimes our experiences good and bad show up in the process."
Do you think you could ever share your story about depression someday?
"I’d like to share my battle with depression. I’m reluctant because I fear people will think I’m doing it for publicity. On the other hand, it may help someone... like you."
During a scene, i.e in Runaway Island, do emotions become too intense sometimes? Do you feel like your authentic self in that moment or do you despise being vulnerable?
"Runaway Island was a lifetime experience. I was so emotionally and spiritually empty as a man even before the audition. My marriage was essentially over. Lots of details there. I don’t hate her and I’m not angry anymore, but I’m not very forgiving. I was in the middle of a career slump. When I auditioned I was the last person on the last day of weeks of casting. The director saw me in a short film she was helping her friend edit on her computer. Ironically, I lost my daughter in that film, also. She asked her friend do my info. What happened in that scene happened in the audition. The lines were easy but I had no idea all of that emotion was coming. I (Russell) was already hurt and tired and life just took over. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable. My fear is not being believed. Honestly, in our business, if we’re concerned about being believed were no “present” in the scene. Always something to work on."
"My moms presence and the desire to give my children the best opportunities I can are my driving forces. They are my breath."
How important is mental health to you? Why? Were you afraid at one point to acknowledge your depression?
"Mental, physical and spiritual health work in tandem. Neither works completely without the other. Poor mental health can show up physically and vice verse. Spiritual health balances us and our faith allows to deal with whatever happens. Acknowledging depression felt like failure. I’m 56 yrs old, a child of the 60’s. I’m from the south (Huntsville and Houston, TX) and as a young black man, with a very old school, little educated father, I unfortunately wasn’t raised to expose vulnerability. That’s not at all a good thing, but it’s the way it was."
Has any posts by CHEETAH Movement ever inspired you?
"Many of your Cheetah Movement posts have inspired me. I wont attempt to read your mind or assume I know what’s best for you... just know that you have strong and you are the midst of a tremendous success story. But you cannot give up. Even your worst days can inspire someone."
"For others suffering or think they’re suffering with depression... talk, humble yourself and ask for help."