As one of eight cast members, Lex Lumpkin stars in the revival of Nickelodeon’s comedy show All That, with the original series airing from 1994 to 2005 and the reboot launching last year, which is filmed to a live studio audience and features comedy sketches and special guest performers. Lex has appeared on SLIMERDOME with Jayden Bartels for Camp Nick, and with his passion for comedy, he attended a two-week intensive comedy training course at Second City in Chicago. With his acting career starting in theatre, Lex’s first role was as Stuart Little, and he then went on to perform in Shakespeare’s Richard III and A Raisin in the Sun. Recently speaking with us, Lex chats about starring in All That, being involved in the revival of the show and appearing on Camp Nick.
How did it feel booking your job on All That?
Booking All That was exciting. I was actually in shock when my agent and manager called us with the news. In this business you get so many people saying “no”, so when you actually get on avail or book something, it’s so gratifying. It’s confirmation that your hard work is paying off.
Can you tell us more about the show?
Sure. The All That show originally aired on Nickelodeon in 1994. All That ran from 1994 to 2005 and featured breakout stars like Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Lori Beth Denberg, Josh Server and Nick Cannon. All That is Nickelodeon’s classic kids’ comedy show much like a kids’ version of Saturday Night Live and the reboot currently airs on Saturday nights. The reboot launched in the Spring of 2019 ushering in a new generation of kids of comedy. I am one of eight cast members of the reboot of the all-new All That show.
What’s it like being part of the cast and joining the remake of the Nickelodeon sketch show?
It is nothing short of amazing being part of the Nickelodeon sketch show! I enjoy every minute I have on set. We have a blast laughing at and with each other. One of my favourite things is when the writers come up with funny turns in the throws of a scene. It’s always different from what we rehearsed. It adds excitement and twists for our live audience.
All That is not just a funny show, it’s a way to spread the gift of laughter to a whole new generation of kids, all over the world. I am honoured knowing that I am a part of this ongoing legacy. The kids who watch All That will have an opportunity to build childhood memories of this show much like the kids did back in the 90s who loved the original version.
The revived series has former cast members Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell as executive producers, how is it having previous cast members involved with the remake?
Having previous cast members involved with the remake has been epic. Man, it is crazy walking into a table read on Monday morning and seeing superstars at the table ready to read with you. Then the magic happens, haha. They are super talented and so seasoned that you are laughing the whole time. Imagine studying a scene the weekend before, coming up with your own idea of how your character will interact with the other characters in that scene and then walking into a pre-rehearsal with an OG and just get schooled. It is mind-blowing and humbling. The OGs of All That left a beloved tradition of laughter and scenes that allow us to dream and I am honoured and proud to be a part of it.
How does it feel seeing the audience response when filming the show?
Seeing the audience response when filming a show is what the whole experience is about! I do this for them. I do this to make our viewers laugh. I do this to bring a bit of light in a sometimes dark space. You can feel the energy of the audience after a line you’ve delivered, a facial expression or arm movement. It’s like an electric current vibrating off the walls. It feels amazing and THAT is why I love what I do.
Along with the rest of the All That cast, you were guests on BUILD, how was the experience?
Being a guest on BUILD was a lot of fun. It was one of our first interviews as a cast and we were cracking up telling our stories. It gave us a chance to slow down for a second and reflect on all the great things that had just happened to us. We also had our first experience with paparazzi going into that interview. That was a crazy and exciting experience. The BUILD interview allowed viewers to get a chance to get to know and ask us questions for the first time after we were announced.
What’s it like having special guests like Jonas Brothers and Ally Brooke on the show?
Having special guests like the Jonas Brothers and Ally Brooke on the show was huge. It was really cool getting to know them and watch them work. Watching their work ethic and how they prepare before a performance has also been a great learning experience. The musical guests on our show have been awesome to work with.
How do you get into character for the impressions you do?
Getting into character for the impressions requires preparation. I enjoy it though and I’ve managed to make it fun. You will typically find me rehearsing my impressions backstage, in my dressing room, while getting makeup, while trying on wardrobe and with whomever I’m talking to at the time. So, most of my conversations before going on stage is in the impression of the person I’m about to perform. It’s my way of getting all the kinks out before I go on camera. I spend a great deal of time studying the characters that I perform.
When getting into character and learning impressions, I spend time identifying the tone and pitch of the person’s voice. How they speak is crucial. Do they carry their voice in the front or back of their throat? What are identifiable mannerisms and behaviours special to them? The tough part is taking what I’ve learned and turning it into something that will make people laugh. I love the challenge of it and it’s something I’m always working on. The characters and impressions that I look for are either people I find unique and interesting or ones that are in pop culture at the time.
You were involved in SLIMERDOME with Jayden Bartels, how was this and can you say about filming for Camp Nick?
Working with Jayden Bartels in the SLIMERDOME for Camp Nick was hilarious and fun. The “Two kids enter, one gets slimed” chant is forever embedded in my brain because that was my first time getting slimed, haha. I was so torn. I didn’t want to get slimed, and I didn’t want Jayden to get slimed either. It was horrible to lose, but the sliming wasn’t so bad. It was actually cool and refreshing because it was a very hot day. https://youtu.be/u6bMNKq9wg4
Can you say about being part of Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports 2019?
The Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports 2019 was lit! I wish you could all see the big smile on my face right now! I love sports and have played them all of my life. All the men in my family watch football and basketball games all season long. So, to be on the orange carpet interviewing superstar athletes was a dream come true for me. I literally watched these guys all of my life and some of them are role models to me, so to get to interview them was epic. Kids’ Choice Sports 2019 was one of my all-time favourite moments at Nickelodeon, and I hope to have many more.
Having filmed your first national commercial as Peyton Manning’s nemesis, Dennis, what was this like?
Filming my first national commercial as Peyton Manning’s nemesis, Dennis, was an experience like no other. It was pretty funny being the little kids at odds with Peyton Manning’s obsessed Commissioner character. I’m from Indiana, so naturally, I love the Colts. You can imagine my excitement when I met Peyton Manning on set for the first time. He came right up to me as if I didn’t know who he was and introduced himself as Peyton Manning. I was thinking in my head, “You know I know who you are, right?! Wow!”. Little did I know that about two years later, our paths would cross again. Peyton Manning made an appearance on All That last season and he and I got to work together again in one of my Jay-Z sketches. He remembered me and I could not believe it. He is an awesome guy and certainly one of the all-time greats! https://youtu.be/vZEfjctUG1w https://youtu.be/LpDaMvxndOI
You were selected to attend a two-week intensive training course at the Second City in Chicago, can you say more about this?
The two-week intensive training at Second City in Chicago was a comedy training course for kids to learn the principles of scenic improvisation. Kids all across America auditioned to get into this program and I am grateful that I was selected. Many famous comedians trained at the Second City training centre, so I was in the halls of greatness during my time there. This was my first real deep dive into improv and comedy. I learned a lot in that intensive training course, and I believe it has helped to accelerate my acting career. I’m so thankful to my coaches at Second City, and we are fortunate to have one of them, Anthony LeBlanc, coaching us on All That.
At the age of ten, you played Stuart in a theatre production of Stuart Little, what do you remember most from your time in the show?
I remember the cast, production crew and audience the most from being in Stuart Little. I learned a great deal about being quick on my toes and being prepared for anything that could happen on stage. In the span of sixty-three shows, we had a prop drop from the ceiling, a kid run out onto the set and kids yelling at various times, something out to Stuart Little in the way of a warning or a bit of advice during a scene. These moments were hilarious to me, but I never broke character on stage. That was my very first professional performance at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
How was it playing the Duke of York in Richard III and Travis Younger in A Raisin in the Sun?
Playing the role of Duke of York in Richard III and Travis Younger in A Raisin in the Sun totally broadened my experience in character development at a young age. The Duke of York in Richard III was an awesome role for me because it helped to expand my awareness of the playwright, poet and actor Shakespeare. To get this type of exposure and training so early in my career was invaluable. I also learned that there was a Shakespeare way before, Alfred Hitchcock, who is one of my favourites and a master of irony.
My character, Travis Younger, in A Raisin in the Sun levelled up my love for acting. A Raisin in the Sun was a very different type of production for me. I got to perform in a play, written by Lorraine Hansberry back in 1959, that also had historical value directly relating to me as an African American. This was a moving experience and I will never forget the cast. They were nurturing, inspiring and like a family to me. I will always remember the love and sense of community I felt with them and my experiences at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
How did your acting career come about and did you have any favourite actors when growing up?
I think my acting career came about when I played various lead roles in preschool plays. I can remember being in front of large audiences, saying lines that they would either say “awe” in unison to or just laugh. I liked that feeling of connectivity. I remember some of the kids in my class being afraid but I wasn’t. I was excited by the audience. Wearing my parents down to put me in a movie was the trick, and while it wasn’t a movie but rather acting classes, it would prove to be the thing to get me started. Thank you, Mom and Dad.
I have so many favourite actors out there. My family loves movies and my mom is always watching old movies. My brother and I call them “back then” movies, haha. So, you can see how I’ve been exposed to various actors and their styles. One of my all-time favourites is Denzel Washington. I would love to sit down and talk to him one day to gain an understanding of his methodology to acting. I also like Jamie Foxx. He is a master impressionist and has a way of capturing and containing his characters like none I’ve ever seen before.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I like to spend my time writing and playing the piano when I’m not on set or in the studio. I like to write things that I see and experience in a way that can impact a person’s perspective. I have also been writing music. I’ve been playing the piano for eleven years. I love music and I can see how it can be both soothing and enjoyable. If I can convey my creativity in a way that can help the human condition, I have done a great thing.
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