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BWW Interview: Kevin Lamar Ferguson of KEVIN FERG & FRIENDS Featuring Music Video I WANNA BE A PRODUCER

This 54 Below staff member has his eye on the prize... for him and his family of friends.

BWW Interview: Kevin Lamar Ferguson of KEVIN FERG & FRIENDS Featuring Music Video I WANNA BE A PRODUCERKevin Lamar Ferguson is a man of many parts. Everyone who passes through the doors of Feinstein's/54 Below knows Kevin, be they artists there to perform, guests come to enjoy a fine night out, or his colleagues from the club, all of whom view Kevin as family. And whether Kevin is working as Maitre d', in the coatroom, or up on the stage as emcee and musical performer, he can always be counted on to leave you with a smile on your lips. Because of his outgoing and gregarious (and, yes, flamboyant) energy, Mr. Ferguson might be easily considered fanciful or flighty, but nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the smiles, the laughs, the big voice, and glitz is a man who takes his art and the industry very seriously. At no time in his New York story has he taken his eye off of the prize, and in 2021, he is ready to claim that prize.

With the announcement last week of the creation of his new production company, Kevin Lamar Ferguson is taking his career into his own hands, as well as the career of his Logical Family. After testing the waters with a live show in 2019, Ferguson decided he was ready to go full-on producer, to control his destiny, and to create work for the people who inspire him. That quest halted by the show business shutdown, KLF took some time to re-adjust his plan and came back with a broader vision that would include filmmaking.

And the big announcement came, naturally, in a very stylish and sparkly way.

Believing that reward requires risk, I am always interested in hearing from the artists who are willing to go out on that limb, so I reached out to Kevin Lamar Ferguson to get all the juicy details. Natch, he said yes.

This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced with limited edits.

Kevin Lamar Ferguson, welcome to Broadway World, and congratulations on your newest venture! Does your production company have a name yet?

For now, it's "Kevin Ferg & Friends" The support of my friends is the foundation of all my projects so far. Each project I have friends who constantly support me by either performing in the project or cheering in the audience. Whether it's a coffee shop open mic, a cabaret, or a short film; they show support. All of the friends who support my projects are like my business partners; the "& Friends". The abbreviated "Kevin Ferg" is a play on the various nicknames that friends have given me.

Audiences of Feinstein's/54 Below have seen you perform as an emcee and as a singer, and now you are producing. When you were a young 'un in Columbus, Ohio, what was your show business dream?

BWW Interview: Kevin Lamar Ferguson of KEVIN FERG & FRIENDS Featuring Music Video I WANNA BE A PRODUCERThe original dream was to get on a stage and be Eddie Murphy. My family was very supportive of my artist dreams and immediately put me into children's theatre. Children's theatre led to an interest in educational theatre. By the time I was a high school senior, I was a Thespian Troupe President and the Central Ohio Student Officer for the Ohio Educational Theatre Association. I received a Bachelor of Arts from Wright State University where I studied Theatre and produced my own cabarets on campus. Through both my educational and career journeys I always have been on a path to producing.

From your arrival in New York to this moment, as you stand on the precipice of fully launching your own production company, what has your show business trajectory looked like?

Right after graduation, I didn't waste any time continuing the dream. I packed up my college apartment and moved to NYC in September 2014. I came into the city very "green". I quickly learned how to move and hustle faster and harder than ever before. For the first few years, I spent so much time auditioning at Ripley & Pearl, I probably owe them rent. It was tough but I was just so excited to finally be in NYC and that was enough motivation to keep me going. And then every now and then I would get a call for a job offer. My favorite job was when I booked the 2016 International Tour of Shrek: The Musical. After touring around the world for a year, I came back to NYC and restarted the audition grind. In between gigs I worked at a plethora of terrible unsupportive restaurant jobs and one day I heard thee Feinstein's/54 Below was hiring so I applied and they said yes. While at 54 Below, I was shown more love as an artist than any other job I've ever had. Anytime I had an audition or had to leave for a short gig, management and the staff at 54 Below were there to support me. Working as a Maitre D', I was thrust into the NYC Broadway/cabaret world and was immensely inspired. I used every shift as a chance to learn more about the business side of showbiz. Then one day, I got enough courage to ask if I could dust off my college emcee skills and co-host the annual "54 Does 54" Staff Show. They said yes and after hosting several sold-out shows at 54 Below, I had more confidence to do my own show.

Tell me about Friendsgiving Leftovers, and leave nothing out.

BWW Interview: Kevin Lamar Ferguson of KEVIN FERG & FRIENDS Featuring Music Video I WANNA BE A PRODUCERIn 2019, I was very inspired by the power of "chosen family" and a cabaret full of friendship songs around Thanksgiving sounded marketable. We chose a cozy cabaret dive bar on the Upper West Side called "The West End Lounge" I produced and hosted, while my friends made up the band with 2 featured backup singers, 2 guest Broadway friends. We sold tickets, there was a classic cabaret table 2 drink minimum and we filled every seat! Unfortunately, due to COVID that cabaret club is closed indefinitely.

If the global health crisis hadn't come along and skirted everyone's plans, what would the last year have looked like for KEVIN FERG & FRIENDS and how has that picture changed, due to the show businesses shutdown?

We had big plans! The next day after "Friendsgiving Leftovers" I was already in emails with more cabaret clubs about an Anti-Valentine's Day show and a concert series of forgotten black musicals. Last year could've been so fierce for the company but because of the shutdown, I have had a lot of time to sit and reevaluate my goals. I've expanded on my dreams.

Do you have a particular artistic vision for the work that you will be creating? Or will you focus on a variety of genres and projects under the umbrella of Kevin Ferg & Friends?

The plan is to create a versatile platform for artists to showcase their talents. The ultimate goal would be to produce a variety of projects. At the moment because of the shutdown, all energy is focused on more virtual on-camera projects like music videos, web series, or short films. Hoping to submit some of these projects for film festivals and network executives.

The Kevin Ferg & Friends company features several of your 54 Below colleagues. Explain for our readers who aren't in show business the importance of creating art with your Logical Family.

As artists in a big city, we all work similar jobs and share life experiences so it can start to feel like a family. I feel a loyalty to this chosen family of artist friends that I've been fortunate enough to meet. Anytime I'm thinking about my next project, I always keep in mind the talents of all my friends in the city and how we can collab and make some magic.

BWW Interview: Kevin Lamar Ferguson of KEVIN FERG & FRIENDS Featuring Music Video I WANNA BE A PRODUCER

Your short film "I Wanna Be a Producer" was shot during the quarantine, around the streets of Manhattan. Was it easier to shoot a film without the crowds of tourists getting in the way, or more difficult because of COVID safety restrictions?

We lucked out with the crowds only because our production schedule had us filming on the coldest day of 2020. It was right after a huge snowstorm so there weren't a lot of people in the frozen streets of midtown. It was cold but it was worth it. The time square shots are my favorite part of the film.

The crowdfunding page for Kevin Ferg & Friends is one-third of the way to the goal of $3,000. That's a remarkably conservative goal for a crowdfunding campaign: are you concerned you might have underplayed your goal? What are some of the extra expenditures you could meet if you go beyond the three grand on which you have set your sights?

BWW Interview: Kevin Lamar Ferguson of KEVIN FERG & FRIENDS Featuring Music Video I WANNA BE A PRODUCER$3,000 is just our starter goal. We produced both "Friendsgiving Leftovers" & "I Wanna Be a Producer" with incredibly small budgets. With that being said, every artist involved was still compensated and we still made a return. Right now, I know my supporters are like many people who can only financially support so much these days. So with $3,000, that would be the biggest budget we've had for a project so far. I really know how to stretch a penny so we could even spread that budget throughout a couple of projects.

See the Gofundme page HERE

Not everyone is flush right now - are there ways that people can support Kevin Ferg & Friends if they don't have any spare cash to contribute to the Gofundme page?

Absolutely in this digital age, sharing a post is almost as good as a dollar. The more people that share any "KF&F" content the more our virtual audience grows. Which then sets us up for success when adding to our email list or selling tickets. You can follow me on almost all social media like Instagram and Twitter @KevinFerg_ or on my YouTube channel.

How would you describe the mission statement of Kevin Ferg & Friends?

The mission is to create a collective of artists that come together to produce more inclusive and diverse content. To raise money for ourselves especially during times when job security is so fragile. We will amply NEW voices along while saluting veterans in the industry.

When the world goes back to some semblance of normality, will there be live shows for Kevin Ferg & Friends, or will you stay on the cinematic track that you are currently on because of the shutdown?

There will absolutely be live shows. I think I will always have the dream of producing a musical on Broadway. I'd rather wait until it's safe to continue that on-stage dream so until then I'll occupy my time learning more about this on-screen life.

Do you think there will come a time when your performing will take a back seat to the producing, or will you always seek out the spotlight and the song?

I'm very inspired by artists like Whoopi Goldberg, Spike Lee, and Issa Rae. They always find cool ways to include themselves in the project without comprising artistic integrity. While also producing several things that you never see them in until the credits roll. Whoopi produced a solo show on Broadway and won a Tony, I want to do that.

Kevin, thank you so much for chatting with us today and I look forward to seeing all the Kevin Ferg & Friends productions!

Thanks again, Stephen! You and BWW always show me so much support and I will always remember that!

Keep an eye out for the website for Kevin Ferg & friends for production info, updates, and merch - now under construction.

BWW Interview: Kevin Lamar Ferguson of KEVIN FERG & FRIENDS Featuring Music Video I WANNA BE A PRODUCER

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From This Author Stephen Mosher