The filmmaker dishes on food, travel, and movies.
Celebrating 15 years as a working actor in Hollywood and recently seen sharing screen time with Halle Berry and Daniel Craig in the movie “Kings “ (available on Netflix), Lewis T. Powell is also a producer, composer, writer and director currently working on his award-winning passion project, Padlock Men. The short film, created as a television pilot teaser (available on Amazon Prime), is a fictional story about the historically secret band of vigilante civil rights soldiers known as padlock men and is set around actual events against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. It is now being developed into a television mini-series after making the rounds at film festival circuits worldwide. Accolades garnered along the way include several official selections, nominations and wins and some Oscar-qualifying screenings as well.
Gracing the Big Screen
The acting bug bit Powell back in grade school when he performed in plays, “enjoying the human characteristics of people’s psychology, and the way people operate and react to situations.” His favorite part of the process is breathing life into the characters on a page so that people can relate to them. “It’s that state of play that’s so intoxicating when you do your homework on a character to the point that you are now doing what the character would even without thinking about it.” Powell’s credits include “CSI,” “Squatters” and “Dexter,” among a host of roles in television and film over the years.
Before his stint in filmdom, Big Lew, as his friends call him, was also well known as the master barber to the celebrities, coming from an extended family of master barbers in Washington, D.C. and having worked with the who’s who of Tinseltown. He is also a musician and recording artist, but when not on an entertainment set, this filmmaker is creating magic of culinary proportions in the kitchen with his favorite recipes. A self-admitted homebody, Powell agrees cooking at home and perfecting recipes are more his style than hanging out in Los Angeles’ enticing foodie scene.
Embracing the Taste Test
“I love to cook and I cook by taste which is soothing and relaxing, like getting a haircut. You are giving somebody love; it’s a form of endearment,” Powell says. “I like to smell the ingredients, feel the texture of the vegetables. I’ll spend 3-4 hours at the grocery store, and that’s at just one.” As the proud owner of a new Instapot just a few weeks before this interview, he was firming up some new soup recipes. “I’m like a mad scientist when I’m in the kitchen. I love to see the joy on somebody’s face when we sit down and eat, break bread and have a conversation.”
One of his current favorite recipes is a chicken and vegetable soup and he rattles off the preparation in one breath — chicken leg quarters, chicken broth stock, large red chopped onion, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli and garlic popped into the Instapot with a little bit of thyme, salt to taste, a teaspoon of curry, and a packet of McCormick beef roast seasoning for 30 minutes. “It makes a delicious, healthy and keto-friendly low-carb soup,” he shares. “And I’ve been experimenting a lot with fathead dough — a low carb bread, to eat with soup and make garlic bread or cheese sandwiches that are also keto-friendly.”
Experimenting with different types of food has always been on Powell’s mind, but it is a great challenge to find the balance in taste. “I don’t like using the term diet when it comes to food, you should be able to eat what you want and it should be tasty. Food is meant to be enjoyed,” he adds. Calling himself a “lewitarian,” Powell jokes he tries whatever he feels a craving for, be that a good pizza or burger, Indian or Mexican food. Some of his hangouts in the Los Angeles area are Trejos Tacos, El Chapo food truck and Egg Plantation.
Adventuring Near and Far
Though he now calls the City of Angels home, Powell has always worked on both coasts and with his short film showing across the world, he also has had the opportunity to travel, experiencing different countries, cultures and cuisines. “I am an outdoorsy, nature type person. I love places like Utah, Mount Vernon, Yosemite, hiking the Crater Lake in Oregon, or Mount Shasta. I’ve been fortunate to travel to probably 60 different countries,” he says.
Other travels include stints in Asia via China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Cambodia as well as Africa in Cape Town where he hiked the Cape of Good Hope, and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Powell has a rock collection from his visits everywhere as a way to connect with the land. He is currently in talks to develop a travelogue-style docu-series. Though not at liberty to share more details at this time, he promises it is something that hasn’t been done before and he is excited to see it come to fruition.
As for the long game with his acting career? “I want to be running a full-fledged production company where I can work with people from all backgrounds and nurture their stories for public consumption, showing them exactly how and where to put their resources and the infrastructure to be able to have their own companies in the process. Teaching has been a part of my space and I teach through the medium of film. As an actor, I want to do projects that are fulfilling so whatever that may be, that’s the direction I want to go.”