If you haven't checked out the new Paramount+ drama series SkyMed, you're missing out. The series takes a dramatized closer look at the nurses and pilots and the intense journeys they endure both on and off the job. Kheon Clarke stars as Tristan, the career-driven flight medic and team player who takes his career seriously and his relationships casually. It's a major role for Clarke, one he considers to be his biggest yet.
The actor previously starred in Disney's Gabby & The Unsittables. He's also guest starred on hit TV shows such as Riverdale, A Million Little Things and Batwoman, to name a few. PopCulture recently spoke with Clarke about transitioning into Tristan, his love for comedy, and how he's expanded his worldview with drama and action.
PC: So congratulations on SkyMed on Paramount+. How did the project come about for you?
KC: A normal audition process. I wasn't really thinking too much of it, but it was just one of those moments where everything just clicked. The writing was good, I was kind of in the zone, and one of those things where it just kind of come together, and luckily for me, they really enjoyed the tape, and decided to go with me as Tristan.
What type of preparation did you do once you landed the role to have to play a flight medic?
Well, we did a few days of intense medical training because they tried to cram as much information as they could in a couple of days, which would normally take a two-year paramedics course. So it was a lot of that, and we also had an onset medical professional, his name is Steve Bradley, but we call him Medical Steve, and if it wasn't for him, a lot of the scenes where I have to save some people wouldn't have looked as realistic as it did. So I guess the medical training, and having the onset person Steve to help us out, it really came in handy.
How intense was it for you having to cram in a few days of training? You said that it normally takes two years to learn that type of experience, so to be able to make that as realistic as you did for such a short amount of training?
It was fairly intense, a lot of the procedures that my character ends up doing, I've never done before, I've never handled a needle, putting on a neck brace, how to properly carry somebody out of a stretcher, it was pretty intense, but I wasn't afraid of it, because my mom was a nurse. She didn't really talk that much about work, but I knew the type of stuff that she was doing, and she was well-prepared and had the qualifications to do all of those things.
For example, when I was younger, I would help her practice how to properly wrap up certain injuries and gauzes and stuff like that when she was going through nursing school before she got her job. So I guess I had some slight experience with that, but not too much. But overall, I guess it was fairly intense, but once you got a few things kinds of under your belt, learning how to do a few things, then it became a lot easier, but it wasn't overall an easy process, if that makes any sense.
No, of course. Do you consider this series to be your breakout series per se? Because you've typically done a lot of guest starring roles? I know you previously starred in Gabby & The Unsittables, but before that, you had more guest roles versus recurring.
Yeah, I would say to date, SkyMed is definitely my breakout role, because I guess the audience gets to see more of me as my character, Tristan, in the show, and also that I'm contracted in. So I guess I would classify this as my biggest role so far. Yeah, I agree.
How does this differ from the other projects that you've done, as far as your character is concerned? Do you prefer to do more drama-based projects, or do you like action?
I guess if anyone knows me, there's not that many that shoot out here in Vancouver, or in Canada in general, but I'm more of a comedy-based actor. Some of the producers say you're either born with it or you're not, but I just have good comedic chops, and timing, so that's kind of more up my alley. But I am falling in love with the idea of doing more dramas, because some my acting teachers always telling me if you can do comedy, then you can do drama, you've just got to go to a place, and you feel that pain, and just kind of bring that out, and show that to the audience.
But honestly, I would say I'm a more well-rounded actor now after this experience than I was before. Because I already know I can do the funny stuff, now I know I can do the dramatic stuff, and cry. And I've done a little bit of action, not too much. But I'd say, overall, I've become a more well-rounded actor, for sure.
So being as though you love comedy, but you're in a drama series, how else are you looking to stretch your expertise as an actor? What type of projects are you looking to get involved in next?
The next project I would love to do is something more like a dramedy, I think I'd do well in that, and more action, because with SkyMed, there was some action, and I did get to save people, so I kind of got addicted to that. Hopefully, one day you'll see me on the big screen jumping out of a plane, with explosions, and stuff like that. That's something that I'm really interested in doing. But only times can tell, and when the right opportunity comes, just got to wait for it.
You've had some other guest starring roles, one of which was in Batwoman. I actually recently spoke with the leading lady of the upcoming Batwoman movie. How was it playing in that world?
I guess the context of that episode that I was on Batwoman, I was playing an ex-boxer/convict that's accused of a murder that I didn't commit. It was very interesting, it was more kind of a social justice episode for that. And that Batwoman ended up proving my innocence, and actually rescuing me from the police, which is kind of interesting because she's for the law, but I guess when she realized...because she's a detective – when she realized that the law didn't get it right. They were taking to jail an innocent man who happened to be Black.
So it was very interesting. There was a courtroom scene where I kind of snapped, and I make a threat based off I guess it was kind of the evidence that they're using against me in my courtroom breakdown. But obviously, my character was just more upset that his freedom was going to be taken away off of some BS charges that... Kind of like, I don't want to say the typical story in America, but just stuff like that happens quite a bit, and I was just glad to be a part of something that kind of shines a light on that type of stuff, and it was a very fun and interesting role for me on that show.
Another thing I wanted to ask you about SkyMed with it being on Paramount+, as an actor, how do you feel about the current state of the way that content is consumed? Obviously, there are a lot of opportunities because of streaming, and there are so many different streaming platforms. How are you navigating the world as an entertainer with so many options? Do you find it to be overwhelming or more of a benefit, or are you more of a traditional person when it comes to that and prefer television and films instead of streaming?0comments
I'm more traditional, but I do understand the business side of things. As an actor, and being a part of the show, you want everyone to see it. But for example, there's Paramount+ in the States. I don't know if you know, but SkyMed is a show that's based in Canada, but it's not appearing on Paramount+ in Canada. It's showing on CBC, and that's something that was confusing me. I was like, "Okay, well, on the same streaming platform as a Canadian show, they should show it."
But I get it, it's business. But coming from the acting side, I would like as many people to see it as possible. But, I don't know. We're just the artsy, creative side, not too much on the business side here when we do things. It's a little bit difficult to navigate because I have friends like, "Oh yeah, what have you been in? I want to check this show out." But then some shows aren't available in certain regions. Well, for now, right now, SkyMed isn't available everywhere on Paramount+, but there are other shows that eventually came up, so I'm kind of on the fence about it, to be honest.