Welcome to the Glorious Era of Rome Flynn

The How to Get Away with Murder star opens up about the many roles he's embodied this last year alone and the unique album that's on the way.

Photo: Ben Pham

Rome Flynn has had a busy year.


The actor’s range is no joke. From playing a law student investigating the death of his estranged father to a former Olympic coach training a young boy with superpowers, Rome has set an example of versatility in the roles he embodies.


And this doesn’t happen by pure coincidence.



The actor knows and understands that portraying a character goes beyond wearing a temporary mask. It relies on bearing his soul to an audience, and respecting the significance that a fictional symbol represents to many. In this industry, a role can make or break a career.


How is he navigating this? When reading a script, Rome Flynn seeks out purpose.


 

“For the past few years, I’ve been really specific about the jobs that I’ve taken. None of it has been by chance or by accident. I’ve turned down a lot of jobs simply because I’m really trying to navigate this in a way that it gives me longevity. I’m not in a rush to just do anything. Every time I do a show or a project, it needs to have a purpose behind it,” said Rome.

 

Last year, Rome wrapped up one of his biggest projects to date: Shonda Rhimes’ drama, How to Get Away with Murder. This suspense-filled legal series centers around a brilliant professor and a group of ambitious students who become entangled on a series of illegal events that shake their entire university and town. In the final season, Rome embodies Gabriel Maddox, a charming new student who holds a secret agenda.



Not only did How to Get Away with Murder offer Rome more experience, but he had the opportunity to share the camera with Oscar-winner, Viola Davis. Rome describes working with Viola as an “incredible learning experience.”


For many, this show introduced them to the Chicago native’s talent.


“People are now starting to see me a lot more, which is cool. But I’ve been working and doing this for seven years now,” Rome said.

Photo: Ben Pham

Fast-forward to this year, Rome has maneuvered a series of diverse yet highly popular and successful projects. In September he made an appearance in Chloe Bailey’s music video for her viral song, “Have Mercy.” After garnering over 29 million views on Youtube, we hope this isn’t the last time we see these incredible artists collaborate.



Switching to the small screen, Rome joined the cast of Dear White People for its final season. The Netflix original stole the global spotlight by introducing a unique plot that raised awareness about social issues prevalent today. Set against the backdrop of a predominantly white Ivy League university, the show follows a group of college students of color as they navigate a diverse landscape of social injustice, political correctness (or lack thereof) and activism in the age of the internet.



“[Dear White People] was a very unique project. I feel very lucky and humble for being able to be on it, for being a part of its history. That show has a lot of lineage and was immensely prominent since its first season,” said Rome about his participation.



You might be eager to assume that Rome’s selectiveness about the projects he takes has to do with his growing fame. It’s not rare for bigger stars in Hollywood to do this. But this is not the case with Rome. In fact, the reason goes deeper, and can be summed up in one simple statement:


Rome Flynn knows exactly who he is.


Photo: Ben Pham

He is not concerned with doing what is expected or what others see fit. Integrity matters a great deal to him. Every TV show, film, and song he delivers is a testament of his spirit and soul. Therefore, when it comes to the creative process, he gives himself entirely to honor a project.



But while his range on-screen is extraordinary to witness, the weight of doing several things at once can take its toll. Rome’s growth as an actor and as a artist means putting more of himself out there for others to pick apart.


“I’ve learned how to manage my mental health because I’m being vulnerable in so many spaces. There’s still a ton of vulnerability when making music or taking on a new character. There’s a lot of pressure with each of these things,” Rome says. “If I recognize this, I know that I’m doing it with purpose.”

Photo: Ben Pham

While the world is slowly regaining speed towards normal, Rome has wasted no time. Between filming a new series with Amazon Studios to working on his first album, the 29-year-old creative has been using his time wisely.


“I’ve been focused on finding things that give me happiness in a more sustainable way,” Rome said.


Continuing with his work within the Netflix family, Rome’s role in Raising Dion will introduce him to the world of sci-fi. In Raising Dion, the Daytime Emmy winner plays Tevin Wakefield, a former long-distance runner and Olympic track coach who sets his sights on training and mentoring Dion. Tevin is fun and charismatic, earning the trust and friendship of both Dion and Nicole. Rome’s character will play a key role throughout the development of the series.



With this mind, Rome wants to pursue more roles that showcase his range. From comedy to sci-fi, the last year has represented a challenge, but nevertheless he’s embraced it with open arms and left wanting more.


If there’s a limit to the characters in his arsenal, it hasn’t manifested yet. Rome Flynn continues to show no signs of stopping. His newest project, an Amazon Studios original, is set to release in December. While there is little he can tell us now, he is bringing Santiago Zayas – a modern version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice romantic lead, Mr. Darcy – to life in this heartwarming film about finding love and purpose. A perfect fit if you ask me. Even without the spoilers, it is clear that this role and film hold a special place in his career and heart.


Photo: Ben Pham

The more we discuss his future, the more excited he becomes. If I had to describe him, I’d call Rome a visionary. He’s a man who has set a high standard of excellence, but is acutely aware of his roots. He is patient and deliberate when it comes to his craft, but knows the importance of venturing outside of his comfort and taking risks. Our world may seem uncertain right now, but Rome is not letting ambiguity halt his momentum.



His single “Keep Me in Mind” debuted last year, racking up over a million streams so far. And according to a recent tweet, his upcoming album is an autobiography of his love life. This promise is set to deliver more vulnerability to the millions of fans that adore his work and yearn to get to know the artist better.



“Now, most of the comments I get are about music. I haven’t put out a lot of music, but the one I have out has been impactful for people. It has been very surreal. I want to put music out for me. I want to release music for me,” Rome said.



After our conversation, I feel like I know him better. Genuine, humble, and charismatic. It’s hard to sum up an individual with plenty of layers to peel, but so far, Rome Flynn has not been afraid of people discovering who he is. If anything, he’s encouraging them.


I can list a bunch of theories as to why he does this, but simply put, Rome knows himself best. It doesn't matter if it's through the lens of his arresting performances or by listening to his soulful music, witnessing the magic of Rome Flynn is one of those things we shouldn’t try to understand, but instead, enjoy and let it take over.

 

This cover feature appears on the October 2021 issue of MUD. Photography in LA by Ben Pham (Website) // Groomer: Colleen Guzinski // Interview by Hector Gutierrez