What do you get when you combine a police officer with a film creator? You get Marco Reed.
Reed, 29, is one of those rare Charlotte gems. If you’ve lived here or visited Charlotte for any length of time, you know how difficult it is to meet a native Charlottean. It’s especially exciting when you come across someone like Reed: passionate, creative, driven, a multitude of talents and a native.
Marco has overcome many obstacles and continues to push the envelope by way of inclusion and advocacy through creativity and visibility. As an openly gay Black man, he’s one of the very few Charlotte Transit Police Officers who does not shy away from his identity.
As if that’s not enough accomplishments for one individual, our interview with Marco reveals so much more.
From his growing up and being labeled an EC student (an Exceptional Child with a learning disability), to finding his way into the film industry as an actor and producer, Marco Reed is an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with.
How does a day typically start for you? Do you eat breakfast?
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Okay, let’s talk about a different type of fuel now. What prompted you to get into law enforcement?
When I was growing up I was in a program called EC at the time. I was considered mentally limited. It took me a very long time, and a great mom who wanted to get me to focus on my education. So I worked my way out of the program. Never thought I would go to college, but I did, got my degree in Criminal Justice [from ITT Technical Institute] and now anytime I hear about a book or have the opportunity to learn anything I’m very excited about it.
What was it like being in the police academy?
In the police academy they sent me to, I was one of only five people of color out of about 20 candidates. There was one woman and two hispanics. I was the only one [candidate] that was gay.
Why become a police officer?
I wanted to get into law enforcement to create the change I wanted to see, and I truly believe it’s through conversation, that’s how you create change. I’m a lot of people’s first experience with a gay person. They’re often nervous to ask a lot of natural curious questions that people just wonder about. As wild as some of the questions are, I’m not offended by them. Mainly because they’ve asked if they could ask me a question, and I said sure — because that’s how you push the conversation forward. Even if the language wasn’t correct, I’m not upset by it. I feel like I’ve really changed the perspective of a lot of people in my proximity especially when it comes to LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter.
Have you ever had any negative or positive police experiences as an openly gay police officer?
I thankfully haven’t experienced any negative experiences as an openly gay, now pansexual, police officer. I have always believed that an open-door policy for anyone who had questions is how we moved forward from the idea of something being taboo when it is just different.
In fact, I ended up learning that many of my fellow brothers and sisters in blue truly didn’t know anyone that was LGBTQ and their experiences and perceptions came from stereotypes. This led to a lot of questions being asked and not always in the right way.
But I didn’t get offended, and I didn’t get mad. I just listened. Because if someone has the courage to ask, then why can’t I give them grace and teach.
As an actor, have you or would you play a gay character?
I played as a closeted gay man who edited straight adult films for a living. My character was named Lamar from the YouTube series called “The Jadasburg’s Water Crisis.” To find it, search stoCrisis by Kevin Anthony. It is a fun little short that was filmed about 2 years ago. But beware of the content.
What led you to get into the film industry?
After leaving the police academy, I said to myself, if I can do this, I can definitely be an actor. I always wanted to act, but in high school, with a learning disability, I took an aptitude test and was told I could be a police officer. After leaving the academy, I made a profile online [for acting], made a web series and got signed to an agency in Hickory, N.C., but was still policing full time back then. I worked with the agency in Hickory for two years but didn’t want to continue to have to pay an agency for gigs that I found on my own. Around that time, I met someone, started to work on a script with him and before I knew it, I was actually producing, finding actors and scouting locations.
How’d all that work out for you?
I’ve done two short films and worked from New York to LA. I went to the Carolina School of Broadcasting for Digital Media. I took classes in podcasting, commercial production, TV operations, broadcasting and social media. I learned so much, like how to edit film and do interviews. Leaving broadcasting school required finding a Charlotte-based non-profit and a person to interview. I found Charlotte Angels, an adoption agency and a great organization, and interviewed the President, Jacqui Bryant. If it was good, it would air on WSOC-TV, and it did.
[Since then], I’ve worked with some really cool people, like Benjamin Coffey, a young cinematographer. Together we worked on his films “Jonah” and “Missed Call.” I was a production assistant. “Jonah” won awards. In 2020 it won [the] Festigious International Film Festival Awards for “Best Experimental Film” and an honorable mention for Indie Film. It also won some FilmCon awards.
Who in the film industry inspires you?
Whoopi Goldberg, she can become any character and never even change her clothes or her look and you believe she’s that character. And Johnny Depp, his transformative abilities still amaze me.
Do you have any advice for upcoming creatives who want to enter the film industry?
Be aware of what the world is expecting of you and networking. It’s really all about networking and doing some private research. When I first started, I was learning as I went along. I couldn’t always answer questions that I was asked, so I started researching to familiarize myself with the industry on the indie side.
Any upcoming projects? What are you working on?
Yes. I’m a member of Stonewall Sports, and I’m working with a fellow member who started the first-ever eSports with them due to the [COVID-19] pandemic. We want to do a Stonewall Sports podcast. Of all the U.S. Chapters, there’s not a single podcast that connects the community in that way. In addition to that, I’m developing another podcast, BCT: Black Cop Talk.
Are you in any Stonewall Sports leagues?
Yeah, I played in their kickball and dodgeball leagues. I want to get into their bowling [league] next.
Ok, random question. Cats or dogs?
Do you have any furbabies?
Just the family dog, Savannah. She’s a pug mixed with a miniature lab. She’s a little cutie. She lives with my mom and brother.
How often do you visit and hang out with Savannah?
Pretty often now. I’m planning to move back home for a little while to save up for a possible out of-state-move later in the year to Atlanta. But right now, opportunities keep flowing for me here, so I may not move at all. We shall see though.
If only one thing could be said about you, what would you want the world to know?
I am empathetic to all causes, to all people, and I try to truly learn as much as I can from any experience, good or bad, because that’s how I become a better person. When you become a better person, the people around you do too.
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