You might know Kevin Quinn from his recent role as troubled teen Will Hawkins in Netflix film A Week Away. But what many don’t know is that the Wilmette native really only started acting as a hobby—it wasn’t until after an appearance on season 12 of American Idol that his talent pushed him into a career starting in downtown Chicago. Today, the actor has bigname shows like Shameless, Chicago P.D. and Bunk’d on his impressive résumé, as well as gigs at Steppenwolf Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater—not to mention he racks up over 1.5 million followers on Instagram alone. Here, we catch up with Quinn on his journey to fame and what we can expect next.
How has the response to A Week Away been?
The response has been incredible. We have a whole fandom around the world, which is something I don’t think any of us could have anticipated when we made the film. It really was just an independent film at the time. So, it was amazing to see those responses from fans. I hold that pretty dear to my heart.
Tell me more about your character, Will Hawkins.
The backstory is that he is a juvenile delinquent; he gets thrown at a crossroads of either going to juvie or attending a Christian summer camp. He obviously chooses the Christian summer camp, and along the way he meets a special girl, Avery, who he has a romance with. He meets his new best friend, George, and he finds a place where he belongs for the first time. In some ways, I kind of incorporated my own experiences or myself into that character. I’ve always felt like an outsider, so Will being an outsider and being thrown into this world like a fish out of water felt pretty familiar to me.
You just released a new album. What inspired it?
I had pitched a project to [Capitol Records] that was more of pop, R&B with Christian undertones. We were hoping that we could make something with faith undertones that would appeal to the A Week Away audience. I mean, I couldn’t have asked for a better partnership. They’ve been helping me explore my sound. I can confidently say that the music that’s coming is going to be the best I’ve ever done. The quality is just through the roof.
Right now, I’m hyperfocused on music. It seems to be taking priority, at least right now. The goal is to get the single or EP out, and eventually have an LP out within the next year or so. And then it would be to take it on tour. As far as film and TV, I’m always auditioning. I’m attached to another musical project that I’m hoping will go this year before we ever do a sequel to A Week Away—if and when.
You grew up in the area. What are some of your must-visit spots?
Even though I grew up in suburbia, I always felt very, very connected to the city of Chicago. Part of the reason was that I grew up a block from the Linden L. So, even as a kid, I remember taking the train out downtown or to Addison and going to see Cubs games. And Chicago very much feels like part of my DNA in that way. Chicago was my stomping ground. I used to swim at Oak Street Beach during the summers and meet friends downtown. I would eat at the Walnut Room for Christmas... [go to] Christkindlmarket. These basic Chicago staples were part of my upbringing every year, year after year.
Photography by: DANIEL PRAKOPCYK