Let me tell you about Jaime’s voice. I didn’t expect his voice to be smooth, and calming. Not based on his picture. Callica is a handsome man by anyone’s standards and to my mind, he’s lived his life in the body of a “pretty boy” — meaning things came easy for him. Well, as I stepped into his space, he made it very clear that struggle and sacrifice is a large and significant part of his story. No matter how glossy and glamorous your public relations team might paint the picture, the reality is starkly different.
Here’s what his PR team got right. He was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, and despite them shining him up and calling him the “hottest thing out of Canada since the two Ryan’s (Gosling & Reynolds)” — again — his journey to becoming a working actor isn’t paved with gold or diamonds and that road isn’t on or even adjacent to “easy street” he is, of course, still a man of color and Hollywood has never been kind to them at all.
At the time of filing this story, Callica was waiting to hear if Tyler Perry’s new drama for BET+, “Ruthless” (a spin-off of, “The Oval”), would be renewed for a second season. He couldn’t confirm or deny a second season “but it is Tyler Perry, so you know, I have a good feeling,” Callica confessed. I agree.
The one-hour drama, “Ruthless,” follows Ruth Truesdale (Melissa L. Williams) as she’s forced to play along with a scandalous religious cult that’s consumed with power and sex. Surrounded by sex-crazed fanatics, Ruth’s sole focus is to free herself and her daughter. Callica plays ‘Agent Brian Rollins’ a driven, dedicated worker that loves his wife, and loves his job. When he receives a call to action, he knows he has to step in.
What started our conversation was his role in the new Disney Channel original movie “Upside-Down Magic” which is based on The New York Times bestselling fantasy fiction children’s books of the same name. In this series, he plays the father of ten-year-old ‘Nory Horace’ who discovers that she has magical powers and can turn into animals but can’t quite get it right. To help her grow into her powers, Nory attends a school for other kids with “upside-down magic,” where she, and her father, must struggle to keep her powers a secret.
Here’s what I learned in our hour-long conversation. Callica was born and raised in Toronto and raised by a strong and encouraging, single, Trinidadian mother of mixed Chinese, Indian and Spanish ancestry. Much of his sturdy work ethnics come from watching his mother, whom he hopes to “retire” in a couple of years. In the beginning, acting didn’t fill his heart despite being a natural performer. Like many young men, he was inspired by the pop stars he saw on screen and decided to take dance classes, specializing in tap and jazz.
Filled with kinetic energy he poured himself into martial arts, becoming a black belt at 13 which is extraordinary at that age. He had to wait until he was 16 to receive his official belt.
He kept moving forward, stepping into the Academic world where he studied criminology, in Vancouver, before eventually transitioning into business. A natural businessman with a head for numbers, Calica began purchasing real estate, condos, townhouses, and businesses learning along the way the value of strategy.
Somewhere in this journey, the idea to step into acting began to gnaw at his soul, deeply and within a year, he sold his businesses, started taking acting classes, doing background work and whatever he could, to learn the craft. Then he packed up his belongings and made the official move to Los Angeles. Three years later, with over 30 credits, he’s never looked back. Some of those aforementioned credits include “UnREAL,” “Lucifer,” “Wayward Pines,” Spike Lee’s “Tales of Hood,” and most recently “Merry Liddle Christmas” starring Kelly Rowland.
Here is what businessman turned actor Jaime Callica had to share about the price of fame and his desire to retire his hard-working mother.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Jaime you are a busy, busy man. Congratulations.
JAMIE CALLICA: Thank you.
LAS: I’ve not seen the new Disney series UPSIDE DOWN MAGIC but I am a fan of that type of series. Magical and all.
JC: When you do see it, you will love it. It’s adorable.
LAS: I do know that you play the father of a little girl, with magic.
JC: I do. I play a dad, the dad to ten-year-old ‘Nory Horace’ who discovers that she has magical powers and can turn into animals but can’t quite get it right.
JC: It is. There are a lot of great scenes between father and daughter, where they discuss her magical abilities. He reveals that her mother, his wife, also had the same magic inside of her.
LAS: Oh, so he’s a single father?
JC: Yes. He is a single father in the show. Her mother passed away when she was young and I am raising her all on my own.
LAS: Are you a father in real life?
JC: No. Not yet but I can’t wait to become a father. It’s the one thing in my life that I really, really look forward to.
LAS: I noticed that you have a black belt in martial arts. Jaime Callica not only is that cool, but it also speaks to the level of discipline you had at such a young age.
JC: Thank you. At the age of 16, I was able to get my actual black belt. They had to create what was called a “jr. black belt” for me because I earned that status at 13. It was a black belt with a white stripe, down the middle, to let others know around you that you were a black belt.
LAS: So you do your Katas.
JC: (laughing) Yes. I was a Canadian national champion, several years in a row, in Kata.
LAS: For those that don’t know. Kata is a Japanese word that literally means “form”. Hold on. Let me Google. Ok. Kata is a detailed choreographed pattern of martial arts movements made to be practiced alone, and also within groups and in unison when training. It is practiced in Japanese martial arts as a way to memorize and perfect the movements being executed.
JC: Exactly. To this day, Kata’s are my favorite. Every belt you learn a new set of them.
LAS: Do you think that learning martial arts has helped you in other parts of your life?
JC: Absolutely. One thing that my sensei [teacher] Kwong Yong would say, was about my speed. I was a fast runner but what he said, was there is no pride about running and remaining safe, and standing there and maybe getting ambushed by more than one person. Another thing that you are taught at the start of [learning] martial arts is to recognize the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that we all have in our bodies and it’s here, that you realize that you will only remember only 10% of what you know.
LAS: Gotcha. How did you start in the real estate business?
JC: That’s a great question. Someone suggested that I read the following books: ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ (1997) written by Robert Kiyosaki. ‘Multiple Streams of Income’ by Robert G. Allen and the third book is ‘The E-Myth’ by Michael E. Gerber.
LAS: Do you have a daily affirmation? I’m curious.
JC: I do. To retire my mother.
LAS: Wow. That’s beautiful. I’ll echo that back into the universe with you.
JC: Thank you. Yes. I want my mother to retire. She’s spent so much time taking care of me and taking care of my grandmother, and she gave up a lot to ensure that I never went without. She loves working and she’s stubborn but it’s one of the things that I ask God for, and that is to be successful enough and financially secure enough to retire my mother.
LAS: Amen. Jaime Callica you are a good son.
JC: Thank you.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.