The Boy Next Door: Khleo Thomas
Yes, you’ve seen him somewhere before. Many of us first fell in love with him in 2005’s Roll Bounce. But now the cute kid with the curly Afro is a man looking to cement himself as an all around entertainer. After fifteen films, ten TV shows and two very successful mix tapes, Khleo Thomas is ready to show the world that he’s up next.
Are you ready?
After booking his first acting job as a child, Khleo became a full time working actor in the business. Born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised in both Germany and Los Angeles, Khleo Thomas was did not have the story of the average young star. “This was not something I was forced to do. I’ve seen kids who were forced into this lifestyle but me, I told my mother I wanted to do this so I saw all of the craziness as me just chasing my dreams”. The dream chase kept Khleo from every day childhood things like school, socializing and pursuing his other dream of playing collegiate hoops but has brought him a loyal fan base and a stat sheet that reads better than actors twice his age. But for the heat of his run, Khleo Thomas has seemed to fly under the radar for the last few years as he turned his attention full time to music.
But for as much as he’s turned his attention elsewhere there has also been the harsh reality of a business that’s never appeased by what you’ve done but by what you’re doing next. “I never stepped away from the business. People assume that just because you’ve worked that it’s just going to continue. A lot of films that I’ve done people haven’t even seen. I’ve managed to stay busy”, he says. As a child star there’s always a possibility of fading off into obscurity once the charm of your age is gone but Thomas makes no excuses for his iron not being as hot as it once was. He understands that now he’s in line with other talents who deserve a chance as much as he does. “You can’t let the industry turn you into a person who thinks they’re above everyone else. I’m no different from anybody. My family helped me to stay grounded…I prefer being down to earth”. His boy next-door charm is even present in his music. Opting to omit profanity from his mix tapes, Khleo embodies the new age idea that being you is always better than following suit with what’s hot. “People seem to have latched on so much because they can relate—I’m just writing everything I’ve been through”, Khleo says, “I’m not on that whole I’m stunting n everybody type of thing—I’m cool on all of that. I don’t feel like there’s a need for all of that, I feel the same about cursing in my music. That time you’re using to curse, you can motivate somebody who’s listening”.
His clean take on music is inspiring and his journey for a label to call home has been interesting to say the least. After a not so successful run with Bow Wow and LBW Records at the forefront of his career Thomas joined forces with another young rap phenom, Soulja Boy. Upon meeting, the two made the decision that Khleo would become a part of Soulja’s label “SODMG Entertainment”. Again the relationship didn’t result in the album that he so desperately desired and that’s when Khleo decided he’d make a way on his own. Following the success of his mix tape, which tallied 100,000 downloads in its first month, Khleo Thomas knew he could start to manage his own budding music career through the most powerful tool of our generation: the Internet. With buzz surrounding the split between he and SODMG, Thomas released his second mix tape The Next Episode at the top of the year and his fans responded by doubling the downloads of his first, solidifying Khleo as an up and coming rapper to look out for.
The spotlight is not new to Khleo. Although the humble Alaska native has been a part of young Hollywood for over a decade now, Thomas would still rather be at home than rubbing shoulders with his peers at the hottest parties. A self-proclaimed workaholic, he insists that right now he’s focused on making moves that will render him legendary not hot for a week. “I want people to say that was one talented dude. I put my all into this. This is my life. I didn’t choose to go to school; I didn’t choose to get a degree. This is my life. My love, my craft. This is it. Respect me for the talent of it”.
You got it, Khleo…after all—you’ve earned it.
Written by: Iman N. Milner
Photos by: Ashley B. Nguyen
Styling By:Seth Brundle
MUA: Sarah Bahlibi