Posts filed under Interviews

Interview with a Triple Threat: Jalen Harris

Photo courtesy of Jalen Harris’s Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Jalen Harris’s Facebook.

You’ve probably heard of the expression, “Like attracts like” - nowhere else is that more true than at Studio 27. We have a high-caliber roster of coaches and talent - Jalen Harris being one of those talents. He is truly a star on the rise, having worked in the Broadway national touring production of The Lion King playing Simba, is a singer and model, and has graced your TV sets in shows like Grey’s Anatomy and - spoiler alert - was a contestant on American Idol. Jalen sat down to chat with Studio 27 on his life in the spotlight - read on.

S27: Hi Jalen! Thank you for speaking with us today! Tell us about your career: how did you get started in the music and acting industries?

JH: First, it’s an honor to share with you some of my journey throughout my life as an entertainer. I grew up in a musically-inclined-and-church-involved family in Memphis, TN. I performed my first solo in church at age 4, where my grandfather was the pastor and founder. From that moment on, I knew in my spirit that being on a stage was where I felt safe but also purposed. Performing in many talent shows, town fairs, church plays, and sporting events as a kid, my parents helped cultivate my musical talents, which eventually led me to be a contestant on American Idol Season 10 at age 15. At age 17, I met an angel. Her name was Cheryl Harris. Upon meeting her, and working with her on a few projects, she later became my manager, introduced me to different agents in the business, and the rest is history. Since training and developing my acting skills with her, I’ve appeared in different TV and film projects, and most recently as Simba in Disney’s The Lion King Broadway tour.

S27: That’s phenomenal - you’re a busy guy! What has been your favorite acting role to date?

JH: Definitely playing Simba. Not only is The Lion King the greatest show in the world in every way imaginable, it also taught me that I was much more capable of doing things I never knew I could [be capable of]. It is my favorite, because I grew up always wanting to be a superhero. Simba is a role where the actor sings, dances, and performs stage combat and various stunt work. Thus, singing every night on stage and avenging my father “Mufasa” from my evil uncle “Scar” was the perfect combo!

S27: Okay, dish the deets - what was the most dramatic moment you had while performing with The Lion King on Broadway?

JH: The moment that changed me as a performer due to the intensity of live theater, was my first performance as Simba. I had only rehearsed for 2 weeks, and had been anticipating the next 2 weeks to complete my training for the role. So without a dress rehearsal, or experience doing the show as Simba yet, a stage manager told me after the opening number, “Jalen, you have to go on now. This is not a test”. So the team and crew rushed me to the basement, where I would have to be put into makeup and wardrobe, in time for “Hakuna Matata,” Simba’s first appearance. When I was ready to go to my cue, I waited in the wing, with the entire cast a crew cheering me on, swung out, and began singing, “It means no worriessss……” I’ll never forget that time. I felt so much love and support from my show family.

S27: Outside of The Lion King, what was your favorite performance to date?

JH: My favorite performance to date was singing the National Anthem for the NCAA Football Championship Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. With 60,000 fans watching, and my parents being somewhere in the crowd, I was so proud to open such an incredible event, televised for the nation.

S27: What are some of your biggest musical influences?

JH: Musically, some of my biggest influences include artists from about every genre! [laughs] But most notably, I am most influenced by the styles of Prince, Whitney [Houston], Brandy, and of course, Michael Jackson. But also artists like Chris Brown, Enrique Iglesias, Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce [are musical influences].

S27: Tell us about your new album - what inspired you to write it?

JH: I am so excited about my new album and collection of songs that will soon be available for everyone to enjoy! Honestly, my life experiences are the true source of depth in what inspires my writing. Whether it’s from memories in my childhood, experiences my siblings or friends have had, or even my own first-hand circumstances, I find that being genuine with my pen and being vulnerable in the music is the best way for me to connect to the listener.

S27: Plug time! Tell us what you have coming up next.

JH: Coming up next from Jalen: Music, music, and more music! I am honestly so grateful for my dream team of management, production, and agents. They work tirelessly everyday for me. You will be seeing me in other projects as well like feature films, television series, and maybe a magazine or two. But I am mostly excited to release my new music and performing live bi-coastally with my band!

We’re excited as well, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for this superstar!

Interview with Sara Coates, Actress and Future House Name

Headshots by Leah Huebner. Z Nation shots by Daniel Schaefer. Photo of Reuben by Sara Coates.

Headshots by Leah Huebner. Z Nation shots by Daniel Schaefer. Photo of Reuben by Sara Coates.

Studio27 Talent: Hi Sara! Thank you for speaking with us today!

Sara Coates: Hello! I am so excited to chat with you! My pup Reuben is currently lounging on my legs. I may get a cramp.

S27: Reuben is a star in his own right, and it is an honor and a privilege for him to join us as well. First off, tell us how you became an actor, and how it’s led you to where you are today.

SC: For starters, I can’t imagine doing the same thing forever. As a child I wanted to be/do everything. Vet, lawyer, cop, lunch meat seller (that is real). It took me a long time to realize that I could be all of those things and more. I also have fallen in love with the hard things about being an actor. I love auditioning, I love the grind, I don’t hate the “No’s”. I am consistent, I take the hustle seriously, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

S27: I love that, and am tattooing it on my body. Next shameless question: what’s your favorite part about being low-key famous?

SC: [laughs] LIVING MY BEST LIFE! Honestly, the things that I am recognized for are so immersed in nerd culture, and they are the greatest fans ever. That’s what I grew up with. My older brother is a gamer, and it’s so cool to be in things he likes. Also, someone made me an action figure, and it shook me to the core.

S27: Love it - quick! Name your favorite director to work with, and tell us why!

SC: Rachel Goldenberg! Her background is with “Funny or Die” and she let’s me improvise the [crap] out of scenes. She directed a few of my ZNation eps, and I would follow her to the ends of the earth.

S27: What acting techniques, tools, or teachers/coaches help you get in the zone the best?

SC: [My advice would be to] take some sort of class. Anything to stay creative. UCB is wonderful, and I met so many people I could call tomorrow to help me with an audition. But classes can get spendy, so even just gathering friends and reading something out loud is helpful. I also make sure I am so off book for auditions. It lets me be free to change it up in the moment. I always hold my script, but I never look at it. I also don’t take myself too seriously. This can be the best job, and the weirdest job.

S27: Do actors need to move to LA to make it in the biz? What tactics can they take if they’re stuck in their hometowns?

SC: I don’t think you need to be in LA. But, there is SO MUCH WORK here. That doesn’t mean you can’t book things at home. I would get close to a “hub” if you can: Atlanta, NYC, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, etc..I’m sure there are more. It’s just important to not wait for things to happen to you. Make things happen.

S27: Tell us some hot celebrity goss. We’ll never tell.

SC: I once held hands with Idris Elba at the “Beasts of No Nation” premiere, and left my boyfriend out in the car for 45 min. I have no regrets, and I would do it again.

S27: Ha! Okay, now, tell us an on-set Z Nation secret that viewers may not know, that you’re not contractually obligated to KEEP a secret.

SC: I once was crying in a scene with Keith Allen “Murphy” and I was leaning over him and a booger came out of my nose and landed on his face. I think it’s on film somewhere. It’s my greatest acting moment.

S27: I hope he kept the booger. Thank you so much for chatting with us, Sara! Plug time - what can our readers see you in (or hear you in) next?

SC: I have some more video games on the horizon. I am in a horror movie called “The Parish” coming soon! I have the greatest dog in the world named Reuben Wrinkles. You can find us daily on my instagram @scoatesy ! Thank you so much. ACT my friends! ACT LIKE THE WIND!

Posted on January 15, 2019 and filed under Celebrities, Interviews.

Interview with Actor Mike Beach

Actor Mike Beach.

Actor Mike Beach.

I first worked with longtime working actor (and my own personal favorite celebrity!) Michael Beach on the set of a small independent feature called Scrapper. Scrapper was my first foray with Grinning Man Media Group’s Ed Dougherty, and my first time working with real, professional actors. By “real,” I mean actors that are consistently working, like Beach and Game of Thrones star Aidan Gillen.

Beach has been around the block several times in terms of work - notable roles (besides films with moi in it!) include: Soul Food, Waiting to Exhale, Aquaman, Dynasty, Sons of Anarchy, The 100, Crisis, Third Watch, and countless others. Studio27 Talent recently sat down with beach to discuss training, what makes an actor successful, and what he’s learned since graduating from Juilliard.