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September 2005
Roll Bounce: An Interview with Brandon T. Jackson

Roll Bounce: An Interview with Brandon T. Jackson

By Wilson Morales

Hailed as the next Chris Tucker by Director Malcolm D. Lee, Brandon T. Jackson is simply hilarious in his role as Junior in Lee's film, "Roll Bounce", which stars Bow Wow, Mike Epps, Chi McBride and Meagan Good. According to IMDB, by age 14, Brandon's career as a stand-up comic evolved from local school shows and community projects such as the Motor City Youth Festival to an appearance in Marc Cayce's film, Nikita Blues (2001). A 2005 national tour is currently in the works for his comedy show featuring other talented young comedians and musicians. This comedian from Detroit has a future on stage and on screen. Jackson recently spoke to blackfilm.com about his role in "Roll Bounce" and working along with Bow Wow.

How excited are you to be in this film?

Brandon T. Jackson: I'm very happy. There aren't that many movies that come along like this and working with Bow Wow was amazing. I'm taking it all in. It's my first big one, so I'm really happy about.

What role do you play?

BTJ: I play Junior and he's the loud mouth. He's a funny guy and always has something to say about something, but at the same time, he has heart and he's a leader too. He's sort leads in a certain way and he's next Bow Wow's character as far as pushing the guys to move on to the next level in life as well as gets them to prepare for the skate-off at the end of the film. At first Junior was the leader, but X is the better skater, so he became the leader of the crew.

How did you get the role?

BTJ: Well, I'm a stand-up comic and I got discovered at the Laugh Factory doing 3 minutes of comedy. I started in church back in Detroit and when I moved to LA right out of high school, a lady from Creative Artist came up to me and said, "Hey, have you ever heard of Brad Pitt?" and I said yes. She said that they represented him and for me to call her the next day. Well, I called her and she sent me on auditions and I met Monica Swann, the casting director of "Fat Albert", who also cast "Roll Bounce" and she thought I would be good for the role of Junior. So then we just kept going and kept working and kept auditioning and landed the role.

At the Urbanworld Film Festival, where "Roll Bounce" was first shown to the public, Malcolm D. Lee had referred to you as the next Chris Tucker. Do you think that was a big statement to make at the early stage of your career?

BTJ: It is pretty big, but I can grow that. I definitely would like to have the success that Chris has had, and that's a nice compliment, but I'm Brandon T. Jackson. My whole movement is different. It's up to what the people think, but he's definitely one of my mentors and an inspiration in my life. He and Nick Cannon are both inspirations, but I have my own little movement. I'm bringing stand-up to the film people and my generation and that's what I'm doing. To do that, the whole Class Clown Tour that I'm putting together, which is like the Kings is Comedy, is going to be so big and it's a whole different market that I'm trying to bring to the world. Comedians that are young and can do stand-up comedy and I want the world to see it. I've been living this since I was 13 and that what's I'm really working on, right now, my tour. They can see who I am. I'm a little bit like Will Smith and a little bit like Chris Tucker. I'm urban and suburban, and that's cool. My dad's a pastor and I grew up in church. The church is in the city but I lived in the suburbs and so I'm diverse in both ways.

Is this your first film and if so, how did you go into in terms of the acting?

BTJ: I went into it trying to be the funniest that I can be. This is my first big. I did a film called "Nikita Blues" back when I was in 9th grade. It was an independent film, but this is my first big one. I went into the role knowing that I would have to work hard and I watched a lot of 70s tapes. With some of my jokes, I tried to do it in the way that people spoke in the 70s with the "Hey man". "Cooley High" took place in the 60s, but it was filmed in the 70s, and you still had the reference, and then there was "Good Times" with JJ and "What's Happening" and all that sort of stuff. I watched a lot of films and shows and saw how they delivered the jokes.

Did it takes some time for you to get your acting together when working with those who have more experience than you?

BTJ: Well, I wasn't too bad. I'm very quick. One thing you have to learn about being a comedian is how to be quick to learn things and you train to be in awkward situations and I was like, as long as I can be funny in any situation, they will like it. So I tried to be the best at that and the acting kicked in.

How was working with Bow Wow?

BTJ: It was great. Bow Wow is amazing. He's an amazing actor and an amazing performer and I think he's one of the key performers of our time and you can tell him I said that.

What did you learn from Malcolm as a director?

BTJ: I learned that he has a great vision, but what is sad about this film is that they are marketing it as a black movie. The sad thing is that it's an all around good movie. It's just not a black movie where they put it in the corners of every little black show and say, "Ok, you all go see the movie". Malcolm has a vision for everybody. His vision isn't just for one person or one type of group and that's what come across in the film; that everybody can go see it, and that everybody can love the movie, and you know what, hopefully it opens big first weekend, but if doesn't, it will leave the box office with big numbers because the word of mouth is growing to spread how good this movie is.

Have you seen it with fans to get their reaction?

BTJ: They love it, and I heard them say it without me there.

As a comedian, what did you get from working with Mike Epps and Charlie Murphy?

BTJ: I can wait to be like that; to be better like them. It's all good. I can't wait to be at that level. Mike and Charlie have been in the game so long, that I'm just learning from them.

Do you want to continue to do films?

BTJ: Yes, that's the only way.

What are some of your favorite films?

BTJ: I love Rush Hour. I love Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Animal House, Back to the Future. I love a lot of films. I really loved Made with Vince Vaughn, and my new favorite is The Wedding Crashers. That's pretty funny. Believe it or not, I like Underclassman with Nick Cannon. I see what's he trying to do and I hope I can catch on to his vision. He will be another performer of our times.

How often do you skate?

BTJ: It was cool being on skates. It was really grueling to wake up in the morning and put on skates and that's annoying, but it was also cool because we had to do it. I was on skates for three months.

How often did you fall down?

BTJ: Not that often. At times, they would yell, "Cut", and let my double do some scenes.

What's next for you?

BTJ: I'm working on my own TV show with the N channel, Noggin, and I have something popping MTV as well.

Why should anyone see "Roll Bounce"?

BTJ: It's a fun movie. It's an African American film that's good and fun and showing us in a good light with family and not a bunch of violence. It's good film and you will have a good time watching it.


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