Acclaimed director and actor. Well rounded creative. Ceaseless learner.
Directing has taught me to be a good listener, an excellent collaborator, to dig deep for the 'why' and to problem solve for the 'how.' As a director, my job is to keep you motivated, engaged, and inspired.
Acting has grown my emotional intelligence, confidence, and my ability to listen. As an actor, my job is to live truthfully within high-pressure situations.
I have 11 years of experience in the entertainment industry. I have worked for and with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Pokey LaFarge, Alan Rickman, Jacqueline Toboni, and Jean-Marc Vallée.
Alexander Keene McRae II was born May 11, 1990 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania just months before his father graduated from Wharton School of Business. He is the eldest child of William Barry McRae and Lesley Wellman McRae. His parents met at Princeton, his father later becoming a venture capitalist and his mother, after continuing her studies at Parsons Paris, became an interior decorator. Keene spent the first eight years of his life in many cities around the States as Barry followed career opportunities. His brother, Malcolm Wellman McRae, was born in New York City, New York in 1994 and his sister, Charlotte Rainier McRae, was born in Burlingame, California in 1998. A few months after Charlotte was born, they settled in Birmingham, Alabama.
Keene did not grow up with much exposure to film and was allowed to watch television only two hours every Saturday. He spent most of his free time drawing, building and painting models, folding origami, practicing soccer, playing the guitar, and singing. While he could sing and play the guitar well, he was too shy to perform. In school, he was good at math and terrible at English. Lesley, acknowledging her son’s gift for problem solving and constructing with his hands, urged him to be an engineer.
As a senior in high school at The Altamont School in Birmingham, Keene was scouted to model for Abercrombie. This led him to defer his collegiate studies and move to Los Angeles, where he had signed with a modeling agency. His first year in LA, at age 18, he began working for Ted Gagliano, the President of Post Production at 20th Century Fox. Delivering dailies with the lot as his backdrop, Keene began falling in love with the history of Hollywood and the craft of cinema. Shortly thereafter, he quit modeling—modeling for David LaChapelle being his one favorable experience—and went on to pursue being involved with film.
Deciding to rid himself of his shyness, he started studying acting under Craig Archibald. Craig, after learning that Keene had hardly seen any movies, saw something in the teenager and chose to put him through a cinematic crash-course. During a discussion with Craig, Keene remembered his mother had told him that his great-great-great uncle was William “Wild Bill” Wellman. Wellman wrote and directed the first “A Star is Born” (1937) and had directed “Wings” (1927) which won his producers the first ever Oscar for Best Picture. As Keene was delivering dailies the day following his chat with Craig, he realized that one of the large murals on the Fox lot was of “The Oxbow Incident” (1942)—another picture directed by Wellman.
After studying under Craig for a few years, Keene landed his first role as Sting in “CBGB” (2013) alongside Alan Rickman, Malin Akerman, Rupert Grint, Ashley Greene, Stana Katic, and Johnny Galecki. With excitement, he flew home to Alabama directly after filming to discover that his father couldn’t recognize him. Barry had been diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma in 2009 and, after surgery and an experimental treatment at Duke University, a tumor had returned. Keene stayed in Alabama for half a year to support his family as his father passed away in the summer of 2012. In 2013, Keene landed the coveted role of Reese Witherspoon’s younger brother in the Oscar nominated film “Wild” (2014) in which his mother, played by Laura Dern, passes away from cancer. Oddly enough, the toughest emotional scene for Keene to act and—an entire year later—the “Wild” premiere both took place on his father’s birthday: November 19th.
In 2014, merging all of his skills, he jumped feet first into directing the feature film “Shot in the Dark” (2021). Having never directed anything before, he geared up by taking cinematography classes, studying countless films, and continuing his acting studies with Craig. There were numerous mistakes made and lessons learned in spite of his preparation, but Keene and his producers wouldn’t give up—even when they were told to do so. It took years of working late nights before a film they could be proud of was complete. When he needed some distance from the post-production of the feature, Keene persisted to hone his understanding of the craft by directing two short films. “Weather Talk” (2018), a short about a young, gay man coming out and reconnecting with his father as a newly found adult, has been circulating festivals and “How'dy!” (2020), a short about three aspiring country musicians who decide to rob the man they blame for the death of their parents, is currently in post-production.
Keene is a young filmmaker, with a focus on identity and loss, who aspires to indefinitely grow and learn.