Soar no matter what — I did not win every role I tried for. There were even some movies or television shows I wanted but did not get, but I have learned what my parents taught me, “Shake off the dust” through disappointment. Get up and try for another day. No, can only be said so many times. No, teaches character. Yes, teaches us the promise of new opportunities. It all becomes good.
As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chase W. Dillon.
Entering the dawning of his teenage years, rising teen-star-actor Chase W. Dillon is entering into a new phase of recognition in acting, writing, and directing. Dillon has co-starred and played in critically acclaimed roles such as “Homer” in Academy Award Winning “Moonlight” Director Barry Jenkins’ Emmy-nominated adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Underground Railroad,” and that never forget terrifying scream as young “Nat Love” in Idris Alba and Regina King’s “The Harder They Fall.” Recently completing his co-starring role as Gabbie’s Son in Disney’s Haunted Mansion due out in 2023, that First Wives Club thespian talks to us about his humanitarian work by helping those in need and the responsibility we have towards philanthropy and helping one another.
Thank you so much for joining us on this interview series. Can you share with us the backstory that led you to this career path?
I have always dreamed about being an actor. When I was three years old was kind of shy, but going out with my mother to events at church and being in a lot of public places, I began to enjoy being around different types of people and engaging with them. When I was seven, I had an actual dream about being on stage and acting and shared these dreams with my parents. My mom said to me, whenever you are ready, we can get you started in acting. And, when I turned eight, that is when it all began with my acting debut role in The First Wives Club.
At the same time, I was wanting to be an actor, I was working with my mom feeding hungry families, and giving toys, coats, hats, and gloves during the Holidays and winter season. I learned at a very young age the importance of being charitable and having a giver’s heart for others in need. So, while daydreaming about being in Hollywood, in my reality was helping people to meet needs and solve problems.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
I realize I am not perfect as a kid, but my parents and my aunties and uncles have always talked to me about the importance of caring for others and being humble. Most important was and is being a good listener — this helps you not to make mistakes.
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The lessons I learn are to show humility, be respectful, honor my elders and care about humanity.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
I am a young person, and I would advise all kids and youth younger and even older than me to never let go of your dream or vision for what you want to be. It is important to have a Mom, Dad, Guardian, or someone who also believes in you. But, even if sadly, you don’t look up to Heaven and trust and Belief in the Highest Power you will make it and believe in yourself.
Also, it is important to never forget where you came from and how you got there, and always give back to those who do not have or are less fortunate. We must always be a person who will bless others in their time of need.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I am lucky and blessed to be surrounded by so many Aunties and Uncles who are my extended family. However, my Aunts or Auntie-Mommies are the older women in my life who help to raise me with my Mom and Dad and my two twin Brothers. Each of my Auntie-Mommies has different personalities and is very successful, but they all feel they have a hand in raising my brothers and me. Since I’ve become an Actor, they have become a lot more protective of me, and I notice each of them in their own provide wisdom and instill values about what is needed to be a good young man.
My Hero who has guided me taught and continues to teach me is my dad. He is always by our side, and he is there always to give guidance, advice, direction, and love. I look up to my dad as a strong example of what and who a man should be. I believe my character is a lot like my dad’s. I love him so much.
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you’re working on right now?
Doing good for those in need and encouraging the homeless, the impoverished, the brokenhearted, and those who need uplifting was something I grew up with. Now, with my growing fame and more people knowing who I am, I humbly see my celebrity status as an opportunity and influence to help more children, families, seniors, and Veterans who need food, clothing, and support.
As the President of Kingdom International Economic Development Corporation (KIEDC), my non-profit organization with my mother has fed thousands and thousands of people before and during the pandemic. We have given hundreds to thousands of families winter clothes and garments needed for the children in so much need. Our work in the space of food security to address hunger is dynamic and always in demand. So, this work will always continue wherever I am in the world.
Recently I hosted a celebrity Pre-Emmy event in California, and I launched the Youth Humanitarian Awards event for children, youth, men, and women who are making a difference in people’s lives. I gave out many awards to our young people to show them that they are special and should be recognized and celebrated, but also, they owe the city, towns, states, and countries we freely live in to give back to those who don’t have. It was my honor in the lovely memory of Jean Scoccimarro, a top Casting Director in the film industry, to give an award celebrating her accomplishments.
Finally, in my career, I am looking forward to making my directing debut.
Can you share with us a story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
I was raised to give back. It was natural and normal to give back to others. It wasn’t an aha moment, but what it was seeing so many families growing up in the poor parts of New Haven, Connecticut need of food could not eat because there was no food to eat.
One thing that hurt my heart was when someone stole the Christmas toys days before Christmas in 2015. I was only six years old. The messed-up thing about it was that hundreds of toys were stolen out of the Police Substation. My mommy, my aunties, and our community volunteers stocked the entire room with all kinds of toys for families to come to pick out toys for their children. My mom remembers it was a Friday we stocked up on toys, but by Saturday, all the toys were gone. I remember crying about this. My Auntie Yvonne who is now my publicist was so angry, she called all of the media to come in and after the media coverage and all the news cameras, a man from United Way donated $5,000 to buy new toys and then the Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation gave us 11-pallets of toys. Then parents from all over Connecticut brought us toys. By the time Christmas came again, every child who needed toys had plenty. I never knew who did it. But, I prayed for their souls to do such terrible things to kids.
This was the moment I knew I had found a way to make the money to help our kids. Being an anchor is one vehicle, but becoming an entrepreneur was also important.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
My Mom Metashar Dillon is the one person who impacted my life when it comes to giving back by feeding the hungry, caring for the homeless, and giving coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and toys to children. She said we must do what we are spiritually called to do — Give to “the least of these, feed the five thousand, and make someone smile.” Her actions are what I saw and see daily. If she heard about a family during Easter or over the summer and of course in the winter who did not have food, we were all piling up in the car to help this family many times with our own money or donations to KIEDC. Mommy and Daddy are our greatest influences. My Mom and I still give back when I am not traveling to California, Atlanta, New York, New Orleans, or Mexico for a shoot.
Are there three things or are there things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Three things that people, our community and society, government and Hollywood can do to support my non-profit is to give to what we are doing for children and families. I have fed families with our State Attorney General, Mayors, Senators, Council people, and heads of agencies and foundations. Standing side-by-side is humbling for them I believe because they need to come down from being powerful to the level of children who are hungry and don’t have.
I call on those blessed with financial resources and means to join me in supporting KIEDC and also do the work beside me. It is easy for people to write a big check, and we will take it to the work, but it is more meaningful to have you be a part of the action with their family and friends. This is true work.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”
Five things I want all children and adults to remember are
- Your Family and the Tribe you build — No one can make success on their own. You need a tribe. The African saying my Mommy and Auntie-Mommys taught me is that “It takes a village to raise a child.” Besides my Mom and Dad, my raising, influence, and successes are men and women united to help guide me and protect me. But now that I am growing up, give me wisdom, and lots of prayers to cover me in all that do.
- Set Goals — It is important to reach your goals set and make sure reaching goals is a journey of ups and downs. It is also staying focused.
- My Dad Wesley taught me Time Travel — This means looking forward and backward in time and dreaming how you would respond or react positively to past and future challenges. It is learning from the challenges.
- Get Feedback — Another value my dad taught me. I am learning I don’t know everything or have all the answers. Having the tribe in my life, feedback around me is everywhere. The feedback could be on how I am carrying myself, speaking, and presenting. It is also one of the plans I am making for my future with my parents. This helps me to get better to be the best. Even in my Hollywood career, I am a listener and I observe. I am grateful for the men and women and youth in the industry who provide feedback about my career. Feedback is priceless.
- Soar no matter what — I did not win every role I tried for. There were even some movies or television shows I wanted but did not get, but I have learned what my parents taught me, “Shake off the dust” through disappointment. Get up and try for another day. No, can only be said so many times. No, teaches character. Yes, teaches us the promise of new opportunities. It all becomes good.
You’re a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I am doing this humanitarian movement for change. We have taken KIEDC internationally, but we need to attract many more people to our cause. Right now, the work has been done by a few who join me all the time. I need more. This movement for children is critical.
It is not just feeding people but healing them as well. Coronavirus caused a lot more poverty and sickness in families, and sadly deaths — too many. So, this movement for helping those in need is about love and asking everyone to be accountable for change when it comes to meeting needs and solving problems for humanity.
I would like to build a big warehouse facility that has food, toys, hat, coats, gloves, scarves, and items that help children and youth in need. My humanitarian awards “Party With A Purpose” event is designed to shine a light on these needs with Influencers in the Industry and beyond.
Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote? And can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
“All things are possible with God!” I am a young man of faith, and every Saturday at 6 a.m., my mom and my Auntie Mommies pray for two hours for me and so many others. I would awake and hear the prayers in a nearby bedroom or living room, and then I would fall back to sleep. Knowing I am prayed for and over is special. I can conquer the world with my tribe.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would love to have a private breakfast with President Barack Obama and his Forever the First Lady Wife Michelle Obama first. I was born in 2009, just after they took office in January, but their work and legacy live in me. I want to take them to a nice brunch to show them my appreciation on behalf of the children and families they impacted and continue to do.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!
I am grateful to Authority Magazine for giving me this amazing opportunity to share with your audiences. God Bless You!
Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Chase W Dillon Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.