Robert Palmer Watkins is a man of many talents. An established actor in TV and film, he’s recently branched out to music, working with acclaimed producer B Martin.
Watkins is a busy guy, but took time out of his schedule for a lively chat with host Brian Calle on the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast to talk about what it’s like to straddle two artistic worlds, and how he’s been able to achieve the dream of so many Angelenos.
“I grew up with three sisters that were always throwing me on stage or into their dance numbers or into their skits… whether I wanted to be thrown into them or not,” laughs Watkins. “I liked filming sketches and stuff around the neighborhood with my friends… I just was always an artistic kid.”
An artist at heart, Watkins found his calling in high school theatre.
“I loved it – the energy from the audience and just being on stage, being a part of something that’s almost like a sport,” explains Watkins. “You’ve got a group of people that have to put on a show, and they all have to rely on each other ’cause if the ship sinks, everybody’s going down together. You’re only as strong as your weakest man… I just loved that camaraderie in that feeling.”
He had been making movies and short films with his friends ever since he could get his hands on a video camera, so his teenage transition to stage acting was a welcome adaptation of his skill.
His advice for young artists?
“Go for it now, like what are you waiting for?” asks Watkins. “If it’s a career or dream that totally seems crazy with your given circumstances… pull [yourself] aside and go… ‘it is crazy but like it’s what you’ve got to do.’ You know, you feel it [when it’s right].”
It was this steadfast certainty of his potential that enabled him to overcome worried family members who were concerned he was following an unrealistic path.
“They were just a little concerned about me getting a degree and they really wanted me to at least go to college first. They didn’t want me to become like a child star on drugs and, you know, go off the rails,” confides Watkins.
They encouraged him to go to college before pursuing his dream, something the star is thankful for today.
“I got this agency casting thing when I was like 14 and had like 10 different agents from L.A. saying ‘we need him here now! We need him here now, he’s perfect for Disney or Nickelodeon.’ And my parents said no, and I’m glad they did, to be honest. I think everything worked out the way it was supposed to.”
It did indeed, with Watkins starring in iconic shows like General Hospital and the upcoming The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
“[Working on General Hospital] opened a ton of doors for me, got me out there and working and got my name floating around,” says Watkins. “I booked a four-year contract to play Dillon Quartermaine who’s also a legacy character from the show.”
The soap world is different from any other type of television show, requiring serious dedication and commitment to your character.
“That first week I was given the amount of scripts that they wanted me to [memorize] and I had a panic attack,” remembers Watkins. “How am I going to remember all these lines? Somehow I did it.”
“I’ve had like eight episodes I needed to learn in two days, so I booked a shitty motel room and locked myself in there until I started filming, just rehearsing my lines,” he continues. “I got through it but the pacing was insane. It did kind of teach me that you just gotta go with it. You might fail but you gotta get out of your way, get out of your head.”
He’s now been creating music, with his first single “Waiting” dropping today. He collaborated with B Martin and Ronin on the piece, working with his label Purpose Driven Artists and KMG, powered by Orchard Music.
“I’ve always loved music,” explains Watkins. “I’ve always been into singing.”
And he does it well.
Tune into the L.A. Weekly weekly podcast to learn more about this drop, as well as intimate details of how a young kid made it in Hollywood, pursuing both of his dreams to fruition. ❖