Actor Keiynan Lonsdale is living out a childhood dream. The CW’s Kid Flash wanted to perform ever since — as a kid in Australia — he saw Michael Jackson dancing on television. Lonsdale is now on a hit television show, has two blockbuster Divergent films under his belt and a third movie set to release in April. It’s everything he dreamed of and more, but it almost didn’t happen due to crippling social anxiety.
“I was always just very frightened of people,” Lonsdale tells Empire Magazine. He says as a kid, he couldn’t even look directly at another person and certainly couldn’t perform with people watching him.
“My mom put me in dance classes, but I had a lot of social anxiety and didn't want to be around people. I didn't like to look at anyone in the eye, so that was a difficult thing to get over. So, I left, and I just decided to perform in the living room in my house.”
A Gentle Push from Mom
Still, his mother pushed him to follow his dreams, and he eventually relented. "OK,” he recalls telling her.
“I'll go to classes, and I'll go on stage. As long as people don't look at me when I'm not dancing, then I'm fine!"
He struggled through and made it into a Sydney performing arts high school, which led to a role on Australian television. Movies followed. Now, as #WallyWest, he’s watched by a several million people each week.
"Obviously, I'm on camera, and millions of people potentially see what I do, and when we're on set every day, we're dealing with I don't know how many people on a daily basis all the time. So, it's my life. But I'm still the same person. I still have a lot of those feelings; it's just that I've forced myself into this industry."
Millions more will be watching Lonsdale this spring when the movie version of his Australian TV show Dance Academy hits screens in April. The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 pm on the CW.
Are there any other celebrities that you look up to for their ability to overcome personal obstacles?