Alumni Spotlight: Taking Center Stage

Alumni Spotlight: Taking Center Stage

KIPP SoCal alumnus, Cedric Joe, rehearses his lines while the electric crew sets up the lighting, the camera department loads the film, and the director goes over the scripts and determines what the shot will be. This hard work behind the scenes of a film or television show is something Joe is no stranger to — “getting to be in front of the camera just feels good,” he said.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Joe started modeling at only nine months old and made a big impression on a casting director at the age of three. At such a young age, he was making a name for himself — booking national commercials and diving into the theatrical side of acting, which really exposed his passion and prowess on-screen.

From auditions to sets, Joe still carries with him his experiences and learnings at KIPP SoCal. “Thinking about school, my favorite memories will forever take me back to KIPP Empower Academy [TK-4],” he said, where he was part of the founding Kindergarten class. “I remember going on so many field trips — it was a lot of fun! Everyone bonded so well; I saw it amongst the students, the [school] staff, and the principal. I try to bring that joy and real energy in what I do,” shared Joe. 

He also thinks about “love,” “curiosity,” “integrity,” and “courage,” the school values from his former middle school, KIPP Philosophers Academy. “I carry curiosity with me. Regardless of the business you’re in, you can never stop learning so ask the questions,” noted Joe. That's what he does, because as they say — ‘you are never done growing as an artist.’ “Being courageous also helps me stay open-minded and try new things, especially when acting out different roles,” he added. "These school values are big parts of my career.”

At just 16-years old, Joe is recognized for his TV credits in "Modern Family" (2009), "Loving Him" (2018), "Good Trouble" (2019), "Game Shakers" (2019), and upcoming "Just Beyond" (2021), plus a main role in "Women of the Movement" (2022). Joe’s success continues to flourish, on the film side, he most recently played a lead role in "Space Jam: A New Legacy" (2021) directed by Malcolm D. Lee and co-produced by Lebron James. “I cried tears of joy,” said Joe when he got the news of being casted as Dom James, the son of Lebron. That’s right, you can see Joe on the court with the Tunes and the Goons in this iconic sequel streaming on HBO Max or at a theater near you.

Joe stays active in scoring acting roles but also in playing sports! “I love, love sports! I love playing basketball,” he said, who is also a hard-core fan of his four-time NBA MVP and two-time Olympic gold medal costar, “King” James. “It was so fun getting to do the two things that I love most — acting and basketball.” Bringing his natural talents to the big screen, we get a ton of “laughter, family fun, and basketball” from "Space Jam." “A dream came true,” said Joe. But it didn’t come easy, along with his school work, Joe dedicated time to learn all about his character including the art of working with green screens, reading up on video game developers, and picking up new tricks on the court. “I gave it my all,” added Joe. And as James states in the movie, “you can’t be great without putting in work!” Joe reveals, “I look up to LeBron; I learned so much from his leadership and personality. He is an inspiration on and off the court!”

Having that drive in mind, Joe is taking his acting to different heights on “a story that needs to be told,” he affirmed. Joe is currently working on a main role as Emmet Till, in ABC's "Women of the Movement," a six-episode limited series, set to premiere in 2022, that centers on Mamie Till-Mobley, who devoted her life to seeking justice for her son Till (Joe), following his brutal killing in the Jim Crow South.1Their story is devastating and unfair, but it’s time to talk about this. This is happening today,” expressed Joe who found many similarities in the personalities between Till and him while learning more. “I am very humbled and grateful to be able to tell [Till’s] story.” Supported by an all-star producing team, this series will shine a light on a mother’s “determined pursuit of justice” that “carved the path for [our current] racial justice movement.”2 

Moreover, Joe is a devoted storyteller who has worked with big-time writers and producers such as creator-writer Marissa Jo Cerar, writer Ryan Coogler, and a producing team that includes Jay-Z, Will Smith, and Aaron Kaplan. So when asked for the best piece of advice that he has received in the industry, Joe shared, “to stay humble!” “Think about the longevity of your career,” he added. “You have to stay humble and that will take you way further in any business that you’re in.” Joe stays focused and remembers to make the most out of every situation as he keeps his idol in mind — “I really looked up to [Chadwick Boseman] a lot from his mentality to his work ethic and acting roles. He certainly played a big part in what I’m doing right now.”

With college plans in the near future, Joe is excited for what is ahead! “I definitely want to go to college and continue growing in my acting career,” he stressed. Given his love for acting and sports, Joe’s future goal is adding an action movie to his acting resume and one day including producer and/or writer to his title — keep an eye out as he is talented and determined. “I want to make people feel,” emphasized Joe. 

And, for his fellow KIPPsters, who are interested in acting, Joe shares some words of advice. “If acting is something you really want to do, just do it! When it comes to auditions make sure to: Prepare. Read. Watch Videos. Research. Practice. Record your self-tape. Review. And practice some more. Stay consistent. In terms of your delivery, always have a second choice, even if it is just one role you are auditioning for. [In other words], think about the timing of your actions and words.”

Joe added, “Don’t underestimate the technique and value of learning and practicing. To go further, remember to be humble. There’s definitely going to be sacrifices, you may hear more noes than yeses, but once you get it...just be ready for the outcomes!” Indubitably, amazing tips for life and for acting and our KIPPster concludes with, “Do you. Be you.” 

Interested in keeping up with Cedric Joe? You can follow him on Instagram: @cedricjoeofficial

Blog photo credit: @cedricjoeofficial.

1. ABC Greenlights ‘Women of the Movement’ Limited Series From Marissa Jo Cerar, Jay-Z, Will Smith & Kapital; Gina Prince-Bythewood To Direct. 2020. Retrieved from

2. ABC Greenlights ‘Women of the Movement’ Limited Series From Marissa Jo Cerar, Jay-Z, Will Smith & Kapital; Gina Prince-Bythewood To Direct. 2020. Retrieved from