When you do a Google search for Marcus Carl Franklin, the man you meet is an actor. He's best known for his role as an incarnation of music legend Bob Dylan in the film I'm Not There and his cover of Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In" on guitar and vocals. Visit his Wikipedia page and you learn of his television appearances in Law & Order, the HBO series Lackawanna Blues, a role in the Broadway musical Caroline or Change, and two more film appearances, Be Kind Rewind and The Art Of Getting By. Stop here and you'd never know the gifted singer, songwriter, composer, arranger, rapper, tap dancer, and producer that's jam-packed into a 19-year-old raised in Harlem.
I had the privilege of talking with Mr. Franklin for a half hour on his transition from an unfulfilling acting career into what's sure to be a promising career in music. It'd be easy to extol his various achievements by recounting the minutes from our interview, but I feel there's no better person to paint a portrait of a young artist's journey than the man himself. So it's my great pleasure and honor to present you Marcus Carl Franklin, the musician.
So what's inspiring the transition from the acting to the music side of things?
As you get older it becomes very difficult in the industry for an—and I'm not trying to brag or anything—intelligent, conscious, black man to get jobs that cater to who he is as an individual. I wanted to do more dramatic roles because I was always very interested in being the forefront character, not the white boy's best friend, a drug addict, or a gang banger. I was never interested in that and my parents weren’t either so as I got older, auditions grew very scarce. I was feeling rejected and depressed, because I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do, and people started to look at me differently in the industry. So I took to writing music and started to make music, because with music I was in control. I could write my stories and tell the stories the way I wanted to tell them. With music I could be who I wanted to be and that really pushed me into it.
Was music always an interest and now you feel you have a forum for doing it seriously?
I started teaching myself to sing and play piano when I was about four or five. I was always doing music, but I started acting around the same time. I was in a couple of musicals, but never took [music] seriously to that level where I thought, "Oh I could do this, I could actually rap." It wasn't until I was about 10 or 11, when things started to change on the acting side, that I was like, "Let me have my friends listen to [my music]." People were like, "Oh this is good." I then thought, "Oh alright, let me run with it."