Timon Kyle Durrett shines as one of the stars of "Queen Sugar"

One of Alcorn State University’s own is making a name for himself as one of the stars of the new hit television series, “Queen Sugar.”

Timon Kyle Durrett, a Chicago native who earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Alcorn in 1998, plays Davis West, a professional basketball star that is trying to manage the pressures of being a star athlete, on the drama that appears on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.

The show is a contemporary drama set in the fictional town of Saint Josephine, Louisiana and follows the lives of siblings Nova (Rutina Wesley), a journalist and activist; Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner), the savvy wife and manager of Davis West; and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe), a formerly incarcerated father searching for redemption.

In his career, Durrett has had roles on the television shows “Girlfriends,” “Eve,” “The Young & The Restless,” “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: New York” and “Heroes,” to name a few. Although he had great experiences on his past gigs, Durrett said that his current role is one that he is the most proud of.

“It’s a lot of fun, love, power and realness to this role,” said Durrett. “I’m living my dream. Being able to have a dream and see it come true is a very special feeling. I’ve had some accomplishments before, but to be a part of this project is just amazing and miraculous.”

Although Durrett has never experienced being a professional basketball star in reality, he still finds similarities in his character and himself. While at Alcorn, he had a brief stint as a student athlete on the Braves men’s basketball team. He said being in that position brought expectations and other circumstances that tested him in numerous ways, which is why his character seems so real to him.

“Being a student athlete comes with certain pressures and expectations that you feel you have to live up to. To some, you are a role model and if you disappoint, there’s a lot of scrutiny. The way I compare myself to my character is that sometimes, the expectations can weigh you down, and if you’re not able to live up to them, people who don’t understand what it’s like to be in that position will scrutinize you. The pressures of dating, keeping your grades up to maintain your eligibility or staying on campus during the holiday breaks because of tournaments can all take its toll on you. These are a few situations from my life that I reflect on to play Davis.”

Being able to improvise is something Durrett really appreciates. Although there’s a lot of preparation that goes into playing his role, he said that some scenarios are better when they’re not rehearsed. Those moments keep him on his toes.

“Not preparing for each moment of a scene or scenario makes it feel so much more realistic. I like that I cant’ fully prepare for the role because the energy is so amazing, that it makes me want to change things up. The realness keeps me on my toes and I love that.”

Being able to work alongside television legend Oprah Winfrey is one of the best things about Durrett's role. He describes Winfrey as a regal, queenly figure who is known for her caring spirit. He said that he appreciates their relationship and the knowledge she has passed to him.

“She’s always loving, peaceful and calm. She’s like a queen who doesn’t have to raise her voice or get angry to get your attention. She has so many stories to share that are loaded with great advice. After having conversations with her, I always gain something that can help me in my career and personal life. She’s a great person.”

Durrett is living a dream that he’s had since his younger days. He remembers being a young boy and the excitement that would come over him when he watched action and science fiction films. The exciting scenes mixed with his love for storytelling is what fueled his passion for acting.

“I’ve always been fascinated with movies, especially action and thrillers where there were explosions, monsters and aliens because I didn’t see that on a day-to-day basis. To be a part of something that’s make believe, but made to seem real, it was always something I liked. I love story telling and being able to reenact things. When I tell stories, I’m very animated so that I can paint a vivid picture. Being a great story teller is what got me into acting.”

Nostalgia overcame Durrett when he reminisced about his college years on Alcorn’s campus. He remembers coming from the big city to a small town and experiencing the love and hospitality that the South has to offer.

“It was different at first, coming from a big city like Chicago, but I spent some of the best years of my life at Alcorn. To this day, the guys I hung out with in college are still my best friends. I met some great people at Alcorn and in Mississippi. The southern hospitality was amazing; everywhere I went, I was well taken care of. I loved traveling along the Natchez Trace Parkway, visiting the Windsor Ruins, attending football games and watching the Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite marching band perform. It was a very special time in my life.”

Despite the twists and turns of pursuing his dream, Durrett was brave enough to keep pushing. He never gave up, which is why he is successful today. He encourages others to stay on the path to reaching their goals as well.

“If you have a dream, pursue it with all that you’ve got. When you give up on your dream, you commit a horrible crime against yourself. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t fulfill the purpose that’s instilled within you. There were times I wanted to quit, but had I quit, I wouldn’t have got my current role or any of my past roles. Don’t ever give up.”

“Queen Sugar” appears on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. CST on OWN.

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