Actor and figure skater Kevin Alves chatted about his roles on Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” as well as Netflix hit “Locke & Key.”
Born in Toronto, Kevin Alves is a multi-talented individual. He has had recurring roles on Showtime’s Yellowjackets and Netflix’s Locke & Key. However, he is also a competitive figure skater, representing Brazil at the national level by way of his heritage.
In this interview, we discuss Kevin’s background in both fields in addition to his acting breakthrough over the past few years.
Read on below for Kevin’s interview with Courageous Nerd. Or, alternatively, check out the video on our YouTube channel, linked below.
Although you’re known as an actor, you are also a competitive figure skater. Which came first? How do the two intersect in your life?
Kevin Alves (KA): When I was about 6 years old, my sister was skating and my parents took me to a show. I really liked this famous figure skater named Kurt Browning. He did this programme called Rag-Gidon-Time and wore a clown nose. It’s just amazing. Anyone who wants to see really cool skating, look up Kurt Browning Rag-Gidon.
I went home and told my parents that I wanted to skate. The next week, my mom brought hockey skates home for me. She was like, “Here!” and I was like, “No! I want skates like Kurt Browning.” Right at 6, I started in figure skates. By the time I was 7, I was an independent kid who watched a lot of TV. I got up on my own at 7am to watch the new episode of Power Rangers, or whatever it was. I knew that I wanted to skate, that I wanted to be an actor and never looked back.
They did intersect for a bit because I competed internationally for a few years from the time I was about 16. When I was about 19, I started acting by going to the studios and doing lessons. I got a couple of small roles, but was still competing as a skater.
It was tough; when I stopped skating was when I stopped booking roles. I had a little panic there, a little period where I was like, “What am I doing with my life?” I just stayed committed and a couple of years later, things started to come together. Tried to grow as an artist as best I could.
Despite being born in Canada, you represent Brazil for figure skating. What inspired this decision?
KA: My mom’s side of the family is from Brazil. That federation really supported me through my teenage years. So, I competed for Brazil when I was competing internationally. It was really cool, I was the first Brazilian national to go to all these competitions. I really got to be part of that pioneering process, a little bit.
Also, to see the sport grow there. They have figure skating rinks now. I got to be part of this pioneering process a little bit. It was really cool to be at the beginning of that.
In recent years, you’ve landed back-to-back roles on 2 successful shows – Locke & Key and Yellowjackets. How has it been, as a cast member, to see those shows get the response they have?
KA: When we’re making a show, we never really know. You never really know how it’s going to go or turn out. From the moment you are done acting in it, there’s so much that happens. VFX, Post, picture lock, sound, ADR. There are so many things that can change the way a show looks, feels, is about. You trust that you’re on the right path with the right team on the right show.
Getting to finally watch them come out is a beautiful experience. Whenever I’m playing a role, I sympathise with that character no matter what. I find the justifications in everything that character does. I do my best to not judge whoever I’m playing.
Once I’m a viewer, I’m sitting in the seat and surrendering myself to the story. For instance with Yellowjackets, I’m sitting there wanting to hit Travis over the head. Being like, “Can you please just treat people better?” That’s not who he is at that moment. That’s not that role, it’s not a teenage boy in the 90s going through this stuff. You sympathise while you’re doing it, but it’s totally different to see it come together.
I see people hopping aboard to this first season. It’s a series I’m so proud to be a part of. This entire cast is tremendous. So, just to be in a list of names with them and work with them is incredible. I’m loving this slow build that Yellowjackets has had and how well it’s doing. I’m really thankful for it all.
Your Yellowjackets castmates include Melanie Lynksey, Tawny Cypress and Christina Ricci, among others. Was there anyone you were particularly excited or nervous about working with?
KA: When I look at a cast, I think anyone can surprise you. So, I try not to get too attached or, “I really want to work with this person and this person.” I will say that Melanie Lynksey when I first met her was such a breath of fresh air. Such a beautiful human inside and out. So kind and I just want to work with her now. I haven’t gotten to the show as of yet. It’s one of those things where I would love that in some capacity. It makes me excited to see such a great human do so well.
Yellowjackets follows the lives of teen plane crash survivors across two timelines in their lives -1990s and present day. Could you describe your character Travis and how he fits into the story?
KA: I have a really hard time describing the show itself. The show is so genre-bending and I think it’s like 8 genres in one, in the best way humanly possible. I just tell people, “You gotta trust me and just watch it.” When it comes to my character, Travis, he is a very confused person who creates, in some ways, a fairly toxic relationship right from the start of this story arc.
It’s put [Travis] in a situation that makes him very uncomfortable. He doesn’t act accordingly, he doesn’t know how to act in those situations. He acts out quite a bit. I try not to give away anything with the 2021 storyline when it comes to Travis. It’s just too exciting of a plot point. I make sure that everyone knows, yes, you are going to hear about Travis in 2021.
While Locke & Key had source material, Yellowjackets was created directly for television. Have you seen a difference in how the material is handled/approached when there isn’t a pre-existing source?
KA: I think it’s definitely different, but, I would say Locke & Key really created its own world within the world that it had. It felt almost new. For me specifically, Javi is not a character in the books. He’s inspired by some characters but he’s not directly a character. It was a little bit more like a new role in that sense. I didn’t have that clear source material to work with for this specific role. So, it felt similar in that sense.
I definitely think it was nice to have the source material to work with. In many ways, not having it created more collaboration for Yellowjackets. There was more conversation with Bart, Ashley and Jamie [creators and director] about where Travis is coming from. Where is this happening? We worked with some really cool directors over the first season. They definitely understood what was happening, where the story was going and were also fans of the show. It’s cool just to be part of a group of people that really wanted to make the show.
What advice would you give Travis, based on where he is at the moment?
KA: Episode 9 just came out and we have 1 episode left. If I was sitting Travis down at this moment and needing to have a chat with him, whether it was 1996 or 2021. I would say, “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Not the way you feel like you should. Not the way you feel like you need a defence mechanism for.”
The bigger thing is after 9 specifically, I would definitely give the advice, “Don’t shut out people who care about you now. This is going to get difficult and it’ll keep getting difficult.” We know how long this lasts. It’s going to be difficult so you’ve gotta have people to talk to. I think he just doesn’t. He pretends like he knows everything when he doesn’t know anything.
That would be my advice if I were sitting him down. I’d be saying, “Treat people better, talk to people who care about you and try to make good decisions for everyone around you, not just yourself.”
Although the year has just started, what would you like to accomplish with the rest of 2022?
KA: Honestly, I’m really excited just to see what opportunities arise. Just to keep storytelling and hopefully spend more time with family and friends. I do believe that work is work but you need to have a balance, no matter of whether you love your job like I do or not. I believe you need some balance and the right people around you. I’m really excited to be surrounded by good people.
I really have no specific plans yet, because things have been so up in the air. However, I have personal plans, personal growth goals. I’m a massive believer in goal-setting. Any age, any level, doing anything. If you can’t be honest about what you want, it’s really hard to get it anyways.
Even when you’re completely honest, you set the plan and have good people around you, it’s still hard to stay on task. I think it’s really important that we at least do that first step of, “What do I want? How can I get there?” I’m a huge believer in that so I’m excited to tick off some goals and keep working things that I want to do.
Lastly, if you could say anything to your fans – whether from figure skating, Locke & Key, Yellowjackets or elsewhere, what would it be?
KA: Mostly that I’m so thankful for how patient they’ve been. This has been a really long journey in my life thus far. I can’t wait to see everyone’s successes. I hope that their patience in watching my career grow also gives them the feeling that they can be patient with themselves as well. Keep working towards what they want.
I’m very thankful that people have been watching the work we’ve created and the different themes have touched people. I don’t want anyone to just get lost in my career, I want them to focus on theirs too.
Thanks again for taking the time, Kevin. Take care and stay safe!
KA: Thank you, you stay safe and I really appreciate you taking the time. I wish you all the best and let’s have a great year.