One To Watch: Isaiah Russell-Bailey Is An Actor And TikTok Superstar Who Is About To Take Over Hollywood
At only 17 years old, Isaiah Russell-Bailey has a career that beginners in Hollywood only dream about. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, but raised in Los Angeles, the TikTok superstar — with a whopping 2.5 million followers — has appeared in several television shows, including as older brother Shaka in Netflix’s popular show Family Reunion. Now, Russell-Bailey has his first starring role in Disney+’s sci-fi epic Crater, which also includes Kid Cudi.
Crater is about to take the teen beyond the stratosphere. BET.com had to learn more about Russell-Bailey, who turns 18 in December. He is ready to conquer every angle of Hollywood.
BET: Crater comes to Disney+ on May 12. For folks who may not know, tell us about the movie.
Isaiah Russell-Bailey: Crater is a coming-of-age sci-fi movie about five kids who live in a lunar colony that takes them on a journey to a mysterious crater after my character’s father passes. They have to make it through many obstacles to fulfill this journey, and with limited time because my character will soon be relocated to another planet.
BET: How did you land this role?
Isaiah Russell-Bailey: I put myself on tape for an audition, this was during COVID. So, self-tapes were very big at this time. I sent it out and in a few days, my agent reached out to let me know that there was going to be a producer session, which is when the producers want you to read for the role. This was on Zoom so everyone was at home. After I finished the producer session, I actually thought I'd probably have to do a few more auditions, but in a few days I got a call from the director telling me that I booked the job. That was a pretty cool audition process and very quick.
BET: Kid Cudi plays your father in Crater. Did he give you any advice for the entertainment industry?
Isaiah Russell-Bailey: He is an amazing guy and an incredible actor. He really killed this role, but playing his son was really fun because we got to bond on another level and establish a deeper connection. Also, our love for music was a thing that we bonded over. I like to make my own beats; not a lot of people know that. You're kind of like the first person to hear this, but I like to produce my own beats. We bonded over music, we bonded over our love for Marvel movies, and Star Wars – because we're both huge nerds. He also told me how he got through the acting business and how he transitioned from being a musician and going to acting. He told me to be unapologetically me while portraying a character, adding my personal touches but making the character my own.
BET: You were also in Family Reunion on Netflix.
Isaiah Russell-Bailey: Just being in Family Reunion was a great opportunity. I got to work with legends like Loretta Devine, Tia Mowry and Richard Roundtree – the greats. I learned a lot from being around them. Richard gave me a lot of memorabilia from his days as Shaft. He told me a lot about his friendships, knowing Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. Family Reunion gave me my start. Without Family Reunion, I don't think I'd be where I am today.
BET: You and your mom have a huge following on TikTok. How has social media played a role in your career?
Isaiah Russell-Bailey: It gave me and my mom a different platform, and also gave us an outlet to show other people what we can do other than acting and dancing. It gave us an outlet to connect with those who may not watch Family Reunion – and gave me a chance to connect with my mom on a bit more of a deeper level because of the things that we do, like dance and act.
BET: Do you have any advice for young people who want to make an impact on social media?
Isaiah Russell-Bailey: Don't follow trends. Be, as Kid Cudi said, unapologetically you because people will connect with your realness on social media. Being on social media with my mom confirmed that for me. Just be genuine.
BET: Your career is just starting, but any dreams for the immediate future?
Isaiah Russell-Bailey: I would love to be a superhero in a Marvel movie. Specifically, Miles Morales, and I know everybody says that, but it's been a dream of mine for a while to play Spider-Man. Also, I want to not only be in front of the camera, but behind the camera. I want to produce and direct. I'm currently producing my own project using my production company, which is awesome. I can't wait for people to see what's coming next. My production company is called IB Entertainment, a play on my name – I be entertainment, I am entertainment, I am Isaiah Bailey.
Watch Crater on Disney+ May 12, see the trailer below: