Nathaniel Potvin is always up for the challenge as the star of Disney XD's MECH-4
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Nathaniel Potvin is always up for the challenge as the star of Disney XD's MECH-4

Imagine if your partner in crime — or more accurately, heroism — was a giant robot. Well, meet Ryan Walker, portrayed by Nathaniel Potvin, of Disney XD’s MECH-X4. Walker uncovers the giant robot known as MECH-X4 and recruits his older brother and two best friends to assist him in piloting the robot so that they can save their Bay Area community from impending mass destruction.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Potvin about the similarities between himself and his character Ryan, how a dramatic outburst lead him to catch the acting bug and his advice to young kids who watch him on television.   

Photographer: Isabelle Battaglin Groomer: Teresa Sammons Stylist: Karen Ayadi
Photographer: Isabelle Battaglin
Groomer: Teresa Sammons
Stylist: Karen Ayadi


Thanks for joining me, I’m so excited to talk about you and your show as well as starring in a Disney project, which is major! Can you tell us a bit about navigating the Disney world, especially as a black actor?

It’s amazing! It’s something I’ve looked forward to since I was a little kid. Ever since I knew I wanted to be an actor, I knew I wanted to have my own Disney show. They have been treating me with nothing but kindness and pure niceness. They’re just great people to work with, and I believe this is a great stepping stone to further my career as an actor.

 

Absolutely! So let’s dive into MECH-X4! How did you get involved with the show and how did you land the lead role?

Well, I got involved with MECH-X4 just like any other actor: I auditioned for it and I got callbacks and callbacks. I ended up befriending the creator, Steve Marmel, who is an amazing writer and creator. I started auditioning because the character [of Ryan] drew me in because he is so amazing — he’s a hero and a kid in high school! It was a really fun process in getting this job. I remember doing a chemistry read with Raymond (Alexander Cham, Jr.) who plays my brother (Mark Walker) and we both knew right then and there that we’d both get the role.

 

That’s so cool! So, the character that you portray — Ryan Walker — are there any similarities between you and him?

Oh yes! Of course! Ryan really loves his family, as do I. Ryan has an older brother and I have two. So, it wasn’t that hard to get into the character of the younger brother because I am the younger brother. Ryan loves to skate, as do I. Ryan and I also have the same [favorite] color, his is red and mine is maroon or burgundy. Oh! And Ryan is not afraid to rise to the challenge. Neither am I; I would never back down from a fight. I think we’re very similar… we also like to have a lot of fun and make the most fun out of anything.

 

So let’s talk about the future! You have already accomplished a huge goal of yours by starring in a Disney show, which I’m super proud of you for. As we all know, once you tackle one goal… they become bigger. Do you have any goals in terms of the series’ progression or professional goals of your own?

My main focus is to pursue action as much as I can. I want to go to college and major in film so that I can direct and produce my own things. One thing I’d really love to do is win an Academy Award.

 

Your passion for the acting craft is very apparent. What drew you to acting and inspired you to pursue it as a career?

 You know, the funny thing about this is that I got into acting — not by accident — but, by chance. I was at a summer enrichment program at my local college and I took some extra classes. So, [in the program], you have to pick two classes for the summer. I already had one class, so I was in the counselor’s office crying my eyes out [about not being able to pick another.] And she was like, “Well, you’re just being so dramatic right now, I’m just going to put you in drama [class]!” So, she just puts me in drama [class] and I have no idea whether I’m going to like it or not… and I loved it! And the play that we did that summer, I was actually the lead! So, after that I started pursuing it more along with dance. I was into dancing before I was an actor. So, at the dance studio, they were having acting classes and I hopped right on it. I found my manager there and we started working together and she found me agents… we’ve been working together ever since.

And I was auditioning and auditioning and auditioning. You can’t give up as an actor… you can’t get discouraged by what anyone says or what anyone thinks of you. You just need to follow your dream. And you want that enough and you are very persistent… something will happen for you! That’s really how I got into acting: I was very persistent and things just sort of fell into place for me.

 

Photographer: Isabelle Battaglin Groomer: Teresa Sammons Stylist: Karen Ayadi
Photographer: Isabelle Battaglin
Groomer: Teresa Sammons
Stylist: Karen Ayadi

That’s so inspiring! Given the demographic that tunes into Disney XD and MECH-X4 in particular, you are in the position to serve as a role model. What would be your advice for young people who look up to you?

What I would say to young men and women is, don’t let anybody discourage you. There are going to be a lot of people along the way that will be haters, obviously… people who will tell you can’t do (something) and you have to prove them wrong. That’s the complex I have. (He chuckles) My older brothers would always tell me I couldn’t do something [with them] and I would then go all out of my way to try and try to do that with them. So, that’s been my mentality throughout my entire life. So, I would tell younger kids that they can always strive for more. And that they should be hungry for what they want to do.

 

So, I have a fun question for you! What type of stuff are you listening to and what type of TV shows are you watching?

Oh! Right now, I’m watching Raven’s Home on the Disney Channel! It’s amazing! I’m so serious, it’s just like her original show, That’s So Raven! I’m also watching Tyler the Creator’s show on VICELAND called Nuts + Bolts, which is so funny because he finds out how things are made… only things he wants to know more about. So, for example (on one) episode, he found out how maple syrup was made. Fantastic! I’m also listening to a lot of Tyler the Creator. I’ve also been listening to a lot of The Internet, Daniel Caesar who is a phenomenal singer, and just a lot of R&B and Soul.

 

That’s awesome! So, tell us something special about MECH-X4 Season 2 and what we can expect!

Of course, of course! One exciting thing is that there’s now a girl inside the robot and her name is Veracity (Alyssa Jirrels). She offers an awesome addition to the robot, she has a lot of spunk and a lot of vigor! It’s going to be fun! Better than Season 1 with more stunts and special effects.

 

To learn more about MECH-X4 and to see profiles on all the characters, head to the official website! MECH-X4 broadcasts on Disney XD, and you can catch up on episodes here!

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