We caught up with Kenan Thompson to discuss his first Emmy nomination and new clothing line that gives back.
Kenan Thompson may be the ultimate Renaissance man: aside from starring on Saturday Night Live for an impressive 14 seasons, he’s also in the midst of producing a new children’s sketch comedy show with the former president of Nickelodeon Entertainment and launching a new apparel line, Smile Parade. Here, we chat with the actor about his first-ever Emmy nomination, the idea behind the clothing brand, and what he loves about his neighborhood.
Congrats on the Emmy nomination! What was your initial reaction?
KENAN THOMPSON: I was at home; somebody texted me super early in the morning and said, "Congratulations." I hadn't had a chance to read anything; I thought he was talking about the show. So, I was like, "Yeah, no doubt, our hair department is awesome, so, yeah, of course we got nominations for that.” I didn't think he was talking about me. But then I started getting more messages and was like, "Oh snap! My name's being mentioned, that's awesome!"
You've just dived into the world of fashion. Tell us more about Smile Parade.
KT: I'm not designing myself; I got involved with this project because I recognized talent. My family friend and I wanted to start something that [pays] the artists directly and hopefully start an artistic community where they can exchange ideas.
What was the inspiration behind the brand?
KT: We were looking for something that would make people smile as soon as they saw it. When we started seeing a lot of the drawings [for the characters on the clothing], that was one of the things that they had in common. They just bring that smirk to your face when you look at them. So you smile, and there's a lot of them, so it became like a parade.
Who would you love to see wearing the line?
KT: I would love anybody to wear it, honestly, because a large part of the proceeds are going towards charity. I think the whole movement is for a really great cause.
What charities will you donate to?
KT: One charity is the My Stuff Bags Foundation, which donates a bag full of new belongings to kids entering foster care. So they give them clothes, toys, stuff like that. That way they don't go into foster care with their old belongings. They go in with a new attitude.
Wonderful. You’re launching a new kids show as well with Albie Hecht, the former President of Nickelodeon Entertainment.
KT: Yeah, I've been close friends with him for years and years. He called me and he was telling me about his new venture pocket.watch. We've always been similar in our sense of humor so when I met with him, we immediately came up with six or seven ideas all along the same kind of theme.
Does it feel very full circle since you got your start in kids’ sketch comedy?
KT: Absolutely. And the fact that we keep mentioning that it's going to be similar to All That. It's the kind of sketch comedy that we all love and prefer more than any other.
Do you keep in touch with any of the All That cast?
KT: Yeah, well Josh [Server] is one of my partners on the show. He's going to be executive producing. And Kel [Mitchell] and I are still in touch. We just had a reunion and a lot of people were there like Alisa [Reyes], Lori Beth [Denberg], and Danny Tamberelli. Danny teaches me the guitar because he's an awesome musician. He's my guitar guru.
What part of town do you live in?
KT: West Village. It's nice, a very neighborhood-y part of New York. It's nice to walk to Starbucks and Rite Aid. And take the baby to school, she just started a few weeks ago.
Photography by: photography via kenanthompson.net