Originally created 02/23/03

Hometown son lives his American dream



Mildred Robinson knew there was something special about her middle child.

"He was so alert and very smart," she recalls. Today, }Keith Robinson is doing double duty on television, with recurring roles on NBC's American Dreams and the UPN comedy Half and Half.

Having her youngest son ply his craft on television is not surprising to Mrs. Robinson.

"He was always gifted -- wanting to do something that wasn't normal in the family," she said.

The product of college-educated parents who raised their three children in Greenville, S.C., before moving to Evans in 1988, Mr. Robinson credits his parents for providing him with a spiritually sound upbringing.

"I was able to hang with the ghetto kids and the smart kids, too," he said in a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles while on the set of American Dreams.

"I was like a chameleon. It's good to know every walk of life because it helps in the real world," said the 1992 Evans High School graduate.

Though his world is candy-sweet now, Mr. Robinson witnessed his share of bitter days.

The marketing major quit }the University of Georgia after two years, and moved to Atlanta in search of a recording career.

Stardom came and went.

His college group, called Bliss, signed a contract with Motown Records. Legal problems with the company derailed Bliss and the members watched their deal dissolve. Undeterred, the group headed for Hollywood.

Although group success never materialized, it did for Mr. Robinson thanks to his theater background. Having studied drama in college and with Greenville's local theater community, Mr. Robinson had promotional photographs shot while in Atlanta.

Someone saw his head shot, and in 1999, he was asked to read for the Fox-TV show Power Rangers.

His role as the Green Ranger led to more guest roles, including ER, the pilot for Save the Last Dance and in 2001 he landed a part in the NBC docudrama The Princess & The Marine. He also was in a music video for the girl group Xscape.

At 8 p.m. Sundays on WAGT-TV (Channel 26), Keith Robinson is Nathan Walker on American Dreams -- a rebellious young man from Birmingham, Ala., trying to prove he's not putting up with discrimination -- especially since moving north to Philadelphia.

On Half and Half, which airs at 9:30 p.m. Mondays on WBEK-TV (Channel 16), he plays Neil Crawford, a well-dressed investment banker who is the essence of a debonair bachelor.

"It's a positive role for a black man, and I'm glad to do it," he said about the UPN show.

Mr. Robinson said he now understands why his parents prepared him and his brother, Lamont, and younger sister Kameron for the long haul.

"We called it tough love -- especially for Keith because he was so opinionated," Mrs. Robinson said. She promised never to stunt her children's dreams because she was told singing was not an acceptable career choice.

"My parents thought it was a 'worldly way' to make money. Opportunities don't always present itself," she said.

"We're very proud of him," said Keith's father, Herbert Robinson, a 35-year employee of Kendall Industries in Augusta.

ON TV

WHO: Keith Robinson

BACKGROUND: 1992 Evans High School graduate

TV SHOWS: American Dreams, 9 p.m. Sundays, WAGT-TV (Channel 26); Half and Half, 9:30 p.m. Mondays, WBEK-TV (Channel 16)

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.