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BlackMen Digital Interview: Brandon T. Jackson

Thursday 17th, March 2011

Sit down and talk with actor/comedian Brandon T. Jackson for ten to fifteen minutes and you quickly learn that the stand-up comedian and now highly requested actor is all about action. With rave reviews for his roles in recent box office hits, such as Roll Bounce (2006), Tropic Thunder (2008) and Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief(2010), the Detroit native is using his humor, suburban guile, carefree approach and inner city swag to usher in the next generation of young Black superstars. Currently, his immense talent can be witnessed alongside Bow Wow in the Erick White directed summertime hit Lottery Ticket. And, if that’s not enough to convince you that Mr. Jackson is a star, wait until he unleashes another facet of his comic genius next to his mentor and comedic legend Martin Lawrence in the next installment of the Big Momma’s House franchise, Big Momma’s House 3–Like Father, Like Son. It was only fitting thatBlackMen sit down with one of today’s brightest young stars in Hotlanta to talk about the love for his profession, the upbringing that helped shape him, his father and Barack.


BM: How do you feel about the current position of African Americans comedic actors in today’s Hollywood?

BTJ: Right now, Black comedy is lost. It’s very redundant. My goal is to change that and set a new tone for the next generation. It’s tough though because everyone is trying to use the same formula.


BM: What are some roles that you would like to see more comedic actors portray?

BTJ: Hmm…as a Black comedian or as a man? It’s two fold.  Major culture can do crossover or just cool, let’s just have a good time on film type projects. Black films have to evolve outside of the hood. This is one thing I love about Tyler Perry productions. His settings aren’t in the hood. He takes the audience to different places. We need to provide this same type of setting to the younger generation. I love Lottery Ticket because it shows us coming out of the hood. Hood movies are not good right now with a Black president in office. We need to show more sophisticated problems among the younger generation.


BM: Besides comedy, what is the key quality you bring to each role that you play?

BTJ: I always have a heart. My characters are never just funny. You always get a back story. For instance, with my character Benny in Lottery Ticket, there were things in the script that I wrote and wanted to portray because we couldn’t have a movie set in the hood without heart. That’s the special element behind Lottery Ticket. It has heart and layers. You know what the characters are feeling. You can see what the average 19 year-old is thinking. Benny and even I do not want to be in the hood. It’s been overplayed in sitcoms like The Jeffersons and every movie it seems. Benny is a hustler, not a drug dealer. He’s the type of person that can do anything to get a dime. He’s smart and is seeking a way to escape the hood. It’s not an escape to never come back. Benny is seeking a way to get out, return and give back. Besides Magic Johnson, you don’t see many of us sharing our success by openly giving back to the community. We need to see more examples of this. Definitely make sure that you go see the film. There’s a great dramatic scene that sums up all that I’ve just said.


BM: What surprises should fans of the Big Momma’s House franchise look for in Big Momma’s House 3–Like Father, Like Son? How was your experience working alongside Martin Lawrence?

BTJ: Big Momma’s House 3 has a love story. I was blessed and allowed to have a love story in this film with the beautiful actress Jessica Lucas who BlackMen has previously shot. I always dreamed of having a romantic situation on film and in a very cool way, I was able to do so in the film by portraying a girl. Just imagine if you were able to find out all of your lady’s secrets by being a woman. You sit there and listen as a woman and then emerge from the costume all knowing and apologetic. My character does this for the love. The film is a great insight into what a person will do for love. Martin Lawrence is an amazing mentor—very smart and progressive. Current day comics are in their positions today in large part because of Martin and Will Smith because they defined their own brand of comedy.


BM: Per your recent appearance in Italian Vogue, you definitely have a flair for fashion. What are some key fashion “must haves” for you that define your personal style and personality?

BTJ: I like sophisticated, high class things. Not cocky sophistication to where I look down or think I’m better than anyone. I simply like cool things that exude a certain ambiance. My tastes stems from my background. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. My father was a pastor and public figure in the hood where his church was located. So, when we go to church, we’re in the hood. But, when I go home, I’m around my white friends. So, I have a duality. I have to balance both worlds equally. That’s why all of my girlfriends are mixed. I like both. That’s why I love Barack.


BM: In Ebony’s March 2010 Issue, you stated that “there ain’t nothing like a Black woman.” What qualities in a Black woman are you seeking?

BTJ: White women are cool, but there is just something about a Black woman. My mom is Black. If you were a Jewish man you would probably want a Jewish woman.  It’s a motherly thing. Now, White girls act very logically. They always try to think things through. Let’s figure out why. Black women are more like “No, it’s not going down like that!” So, if you mix both, you get the “not going down like that” with the logical. That’s why Barack is so cool. He has that White swag, but he’s still Black. He has a balance of both. Even in my own movies, life always comes back into play. Each woman that I’ve been involved with in a movie has been mixed.