Austin Williams, Shadowbox Director of Studio Operations, stated, Clayton Lindsey, Shadowbox Head of Operations and Facilities states, “Since we opened the doors of Shadowbox Studios, Kofi MacDonald has been an integral part of our team. He was one of the first guards that we employed at the studios and is considered part of the Shadowbox family. Kofi has always acted like Shadowbox Studios is his home away from home and does everything he can to make sure the studio is safe and secure. His attitude towards our clients has always been something that makes him stand apart from any other member of the security team. He really knows how to make our guests feel welcomed and safe. Kofi has played an integral part of making Shadowbox Studios what it is today.”
"Kofi has always acted like Shadowbox Studios is his home away from home and does everything he can to make sure the studio is safe and secure. His attitude towards our clients has always been something that makes him stand apart from any other member of the security team. He really knows how to make our guests feel welcomed and safe."
Clearly, Kofi is held in high regard by Shadowbox management, but what many people don’t know about Officer McDonald is that he is an accomplished percussionist with over 40 years of world-wide musical mastery under his belt. Kofi was introduced to drumming at the age of 14 by the Master African drummer Michael ‘ BaBa’ Olatungee, and continued later studies with Chief Bey (James Hawthorn), Nana Dinizulu, Richie 'Pablo' Landrum, Mhor Chom, and Master wood craftsman/drummer Richard ‘Yusef’ Crowder. Kofi continued to deepen his knowledge of percussion instruments by traveling to Africa where he resided in Ghana to study the art of making various hand drums and learn several drumming techniques. He has had the honor of traveling the world and touring which such jazz greats as, Bobbi Humphrey, Herbie Mann, Grover Washington and Lonnie Liston Smith.
One of the more memorable highlights of his musical career occurred in 2015 & 2016 where he received an invitation to play at President Barack and Michelle Obama Annual Christmas Party in the White House with Saxophonist Jeff Sparks and the Atlanta Welcome Drums processions. It was during these events he had an opportunity to play in front of dignitaries as Winnie Mandela, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Kofi recalls being there, “I couldn’t believe I was performing in the White House, that was a hell of an experience!” He vividly describes his personal encounter with President Obama. “He came over to my percussion table where I had all my drums and stuff set up. I had what they call a Chinese Bell Tree. I happened to look up and he was standing right there.” From there, they engaged in a brief conversation about the instrument. Being a little intimidated, Kofi said, “I was a little tongue tied. I didn’t know whether to call him Barack, Bro or Mr. President. Of course, I ended up addressing him as Mr. President.” Kofi ended up showing President Obama how the instrument was played, the President thanked him for being there. Kofi said, “I’ve performed all over the world but that was definitely one of the most memorable experiences ever.”
Additionally, Kofi uses his musical gifts to give back to the community in Atlanta by participant as a teacher/lecturer in the Georgia School "Young Audience Program.” Since his involvement, he has lectured and performance at over 200 schools.
Kofi’s musical journey played a huge part of his interaction with Shadowbox clients, guests and even A list celebrities that have visited the lot throughout the years. One such encounter involved movie legend Clint Eastwood while he was on the lot for the production of the 2018 drama “The Mule.” It’s pretty well known that Clint Eastwood is a jazz aficionado. Once “Dirty Harry” found out that Kofi was a jazz percussionist, that opened the flood gates to numerous conversations about some of the jazz legends they both admired such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis. “Clint Eastwood was cool, we talked about some of the jazz legends like John Coltrane and Miles Davis. He started naming off old jazz songs that I didn’t even know. Really nice guy,” Kofi recalled.
Kofi’s musical journey not only opened to door to have conversations with legendary actors, but it also ultimately provided him an opportunity for his own light to shine on the big screen next month. In 2022, the production ‘The Color Purple” was on lot. "One day I was checking in some of the crew and cast members from the Color Purple,” he remembers. Kofi continues, “a gentlemen came to the gate while I was checking him in, he asked me what my name was. I told him Kofi.” To which the gentleman replied, “where are you from with a name like that?” Kofi told him he was originally from New York but picked up the name while living in Ghana. The gentleman was ecstatic to hear that as he was also originally from Ghana. They went on to reminisce about African dishes, traditions and instruments. As luck would have it, this guest turned out to be “The Color Purple” director, Blitz Bazawule. Blitz was so impressed by the connection that was established between him and Kofi, not 30 minutes later, he offered him a feature role in a scene with the legendary Louis Gossett Jr. In disbelief, Kofi accepted, and as they say, the rest is history!
You never know what amazing stories one has to share. We are so pleased to share Kofi’s and shine a light on his hard work and incredible gifts. The whole Reel team is grateful to have Officer Kofi McDonald representing us all at Shadowbox Studios and soon … on the big screen! Thank you “Mr.Kofi” for everything you do!
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