The Sentinel recently sat down in an exclusive interview with rising actor, producer, writer and director, Melvin Jackson Jr. to talk all things entertainment and hard work. The burgeoning actor, who’s had roles in the HBO series “The Wire” and “Everybody Hates Chris”, is now set to star as Hip-Hop pioneer Kurtis Blow in the upcoming miniseries “The New Edition Story” on BET.
In an in-depth conversation about faith, family, and maintaining a day job while pursuing his acting career, Jackson was quite the open book about his humble journey to stardom. The Washington, D.C. native says he started his entertainment career by managing artists, which allowed him to discover his love for acting, writing and comedy. Jackson says that he started watching movies from an artist perspective, visualizing roles and detailing the tone and emotion of actors like Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and Eddie Murphy.
Speaking of which, Jackson is often times dubbed “Young Eddie Murphy” for his striking resemblance to the famed actor and comedian. “It’s an honor, and I definitely would love to play him in a biopic. I’m definitely a fan of him, he’s the reason why I got into comedy, and I feel like he’s made me a better comedic actor,” Jackson says.
Recently, Jackson posted a video on Facebook live, revealing that despite his fast-paced lifestyle that includes travel, red-carpet interviews, movie-sets and auditions, he still works a 9-5. Jackson says that it’s a humbling experience and that he wanted to encourage those in the same situation.
“God put it on my heart to speak about it because I think in this business, sometimes we look at the outside, and we’ll see people on TV, we see them in films, and we’re like, oh they’re making money, where in actuality, they may be making okay, but it’s not enough to go and quit your job,” he said.
Once, Jackson says he took a “leap of faith” by leaving his job to pursue a role on a television show, one that shortly after committing, was cancelled. Jackson says that this type of decision making boils down to using wisdom and working diligently to set yourself up for success.
“When you walk away from a job, you’ve got to have your plan,” he said. “I think when you hear from God and He leads you in that direction, you’ll know when it’s time,” Jackson continued.
But pursuing acting isn’t where Jackson’s creativity stops, however. Jackson shared that writing, producing and directing films has allowed him to create opportunities where there were none. “I feel like it’s important to create, because I don’t just want to be a player in the game, I want to be an owner,” he declared. “I never just want to sit idle and wait for the phone to ring. I want to be the one that’s making the phone calls and say, hey let’s get to work.”
Currently, Jackson is putting the final touches on a Christian-based film called “The Price of Fame”, a narrative that details the cost of compromising your faith to achieve success in the entertainment industry. Jackson says he did the film to encourage industry professionals that you “can still keep your faith and be successful” as well.
When asked about what advice he has for rising actors in TV & Film, Jackson says he always tells people to simply do their research. “Do the research, prepare yourself for the no’s before you get the yes’s, and just be ready,” he said. “Go in every day and work harder and harder until you get to your destination.”
Jackson says that it’s critical for aspiring entertainment professionals to “put in the work” and that there’s no such thing as “insta-fame”. “Make sure that this business is what you want to be in, because it’s a tough business, but also have a back-up plan,” Jackson declared.
When asked what brings ultimate joy, Jackson says that fatherhood is what motivates him to succeed. Jackson says he makes it a priority to instill in his children dignity and respect, but also provides an open platform to communicate about the world we live in.
“I think sometimes you will find that we don’t explain everything to our kids. We’ll tell them what we want them to know, but we won’t show them what things have happened in your life,” he said. Jackson says he makes it a point to be real with his children so they know life “isn’t always easy.”
Today, Jackson is preparing for his role as rapper Kurupt in the “DPG 4 Life” film and has declared 2017 as a year of abundance in thought and action. “You have to have a million dollar mentality. You can no longer have that dollar store mentality and just sitting by and waiting for things to happen, he said. “You gotta’ go and make things happen,” Jackson proclaimed.
Be sure to catch Jackson in the “New Edition Story” miniseries January 24, 25 and 26, 2017 on BET. For more on the exclusive interview with Melvin Jackson Jr., visit www.lasentinel.net.