Jason Weaver: Maximum Effect

Jason Weaver has been a stellar entertainer for years, with numerous successful movie, television and musical projects. He stole the hearts of fans as a young actor, appearing in television sitcoms such as Sister Sister, Thea, and Smart Guy. One of the most recognized highlights of his early career was his role as the young Michael Jackson in the successful television movie The Jacksons: An American Dream.

Jason was out of the spotlight momentarily, but his collaboration with Chingy in 2003 on the hit “One Call Away” opened the musical doors once again. Not long after, Jason was back to the big screen, with feature roles in the hit movies Drumline and ATL alongside Nick Cannon and T.I. respectively.

How does a recording artist balance a successful acting career, oversee his own production company, and give back to the community in the process? We recently tracked Jason down to get some insight on his longevity in the entertainment world, and his intent commitment to bettering the world around him.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You are an actor, artist, and father. How do you balance the roles?

Jason: To be honest with you, great management and a lot of assistance from people that are in my corner. My immediate family helps me make sure that I can handle all of my responsibilities. Of course, my number one priority is to be a great father to my son, but at the same time I also have to be a provider. They help me out a lot by keeping me organized. They assist me in whatever way possible to make it easier.

AHHA: How long have you been acting?

Jason: I have been in the business since I was five years old. I started off doing modeling and print ads. I started acting technically at nine years old because that’s when I first got my feature film role, The Long Walk Home with Whoopi Goldberg.

AHHA: How do you feel about the state or status of Black actors in Hollywood today?

Jason: That’s a really good question, because I think that there are definitely improvements that need to be made as far as Hollywood is concerned, and their perceptions of Black lifestyles and Black reality. I think there are plenty of other subjects that they can touch on that are just as realistic and will hit just as hard at home, versus consistently making us audition for the roles being the drug dealers, drug addicts, murderers or just misguided youth, confused, hostile, and dangerous. There are certain roles that come about, and I have been fortunate to play a couple of those in my career. They are hard to find.

It becomes extremely difficult, because the competition is so fierce because everybody wants to be apart of quality projects. The one thing that I am trying to do is fight that battle to open up doors, so when the next generation comes about, they don’t have to go through it. I think that it is very important for Black actors, writers, and directors to start developing our own projects and give a true account of the Black experience. Although the hard lifestyle that is portrayed on television, and is very popular in Hollywood, is only one reality of the Black experience. It is not the overall reality. There are a lot of Black families that have never come from the ghetto or backgrounds of that nature, but have had to make certain kind of choices to survive.

There are different layouts of the Black experience, and that’s what I am trying to do in the near future. That is one of the reasons why I am down here in Atlanta, Georgia to start my own film production company, and to more or less open up some doors and expose the world to some different stories and some talented actors and actresses.

AHHA: Are there any roles that you wouldn’t play?

Jason: Yes. Not to offend anyone, but I won’t play a homosexual. That’s something I just will not do. It’s not that I have anything against the gay community or the gay lifestyle, because a couple of my friends are homosexuals. These are people that I respect and I have worked with in the past and work with now. But, it’s just my preference as a man, I choose not to play those kind of roles. On top of the fact that I am a father and I am raising a son to be a man, and I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with him looking at anything that I am doing and him becoming confused.

I am open to anything else as long as there is a message. Even if I am being offered a role of a dope boy, as long as there is a message behind it, and we’re just not sitting up glorifying negativity and destruction. As long as it is teaching the community a lesson and its opening eyes to others things, then I am all for it. If it’s not doing anything to contribute to the greater good of the community, then I don’t want to take part in it in any kind of way.

AHHA: You played Michael Jackson in the television movie. How did that come about?

Jason: I was recording a demo, and I overheard a conversation that they were doing story on the Jackson family and they were to start auditioning for roles soon. I kept it under my hat, but I told my mother about it. Basically, we just took the initiative of getting together and rehearsing ahead of time, so when the opportunity presented itself, I was prepared. I have to be completely honest with you, I knew there were going to be a lot of kids auditioning for that role, and I was thinking that I probably won’t get it, but I was going to try my best.

My first audition was put on tape. I was still living in Chicago at the time, and we sent the tape off to Los Angeles and I didn’t think anymore of it. Then, maybe about two or three weeks later, they called for me to come to Los Angeles to audition for the producer, the director, and the family. They flew my mother and I out promptly after the call and I did indeed perform for them.

Before I knew it, they told me that I was in the top three of the kids to play the role, but they just needed one more final approval and that was from Mr. Jackson himself. They sent the tapes out while he was in Europe rehearsing for the Dangerous Tour, and I was blessed and fortunate enough to be selected by Mr. Jackson to portray him in the film. It was an honor and it was a learning experience. That was one of the major highlights of my career.

AHHA: Did you ever get to interact with him?

Jason: No, I did not. To this day, I have never met Michael. But I did receive a letter from him about how much he enjoyed my performance and how he thought I did a great job. I was satisfied with that.

AHHA: How was it working with Nick Cannon and the movie Drumline?

Jason: It was dope. As everybody knows, Nick is a very talented young man. He’s a business man and somebody that I respect a great deal for all that he’s accomplished in his young years. He was very considerate as far as everybody on the set, including the extras. He was very easy to work with, and I learned a lot working with him. He has my utmost respect and he is a very cool dude. It would be a pleasure to work with him again.

AHHA: Your most recent project was the movie ATL. How was it working with T.I ,.and how did the role come about?

Jason: Actually, I had heard about ATL when it was still called Jellybeans. Dallas Austin, who was the executive producer of Drumline, told me that his next film was a story based on Jellybeans, which was the skating rink which pretty much served as the foundation to the entertainment community of Atlanta. When he first told me about it, I was really interested in the project. I am a part of the Atlanta community now. and to be able to go back in to the history of how things came about was fascinating.

When it came time to audition, I heard that Chris Robinson was attached to it as well as Will Smith – I jumped at the chance. I always wanted to work with Chris Robinson, and to start a relationship with Mr. Will Smith was something that I was looking forward to as well. And of course, working with T.I. was a really cool experience. He is very focused as an artist and as a businessman. He is someone I respect a great deal, and I admire his music and his work.

AHHA: How did you actually start your music career?

Jason: I was actually singing before I started acting. My mother was a background vocalist for artists like Curtis Mayfield, Tyrone Davis, The Ohio Players, and she was also a jingle singer while I was growing up. I grew up in the studio watching her. My cousins and I grew up in the studio and in the church – it was a part of our blood. But it just so happens, I also had a fascination with film and television and I wanted to get involved with that. It seemed like that was an easier route for me to start a career, and that’s what God permitted first. Music has always been a passion of mine.

AHHA: Tell us about the album you are working on.

Jason: I feel really good about this project that I am working on. It’s some of the best material that I have ever done. I’ve had the pleasure of working with producers like Mr. DJ from the Dungeon Family, Lil Man formerly of Aftermath, my cousin Tricky Stewart for Red Zone Entertainment and a lot of other great producers. The title of the album is From the Cradle to the Stage, and it’s a phenomenal project. We’re putting it out the first quarter of 2007. We call it Rock n Soul – it’s feel good music. I am really trying to touch some hearts with this. I think when people hear it, they’re going to be really surprised.

AHHA: Tell us about your new production company and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

Jason: It’s called Special Ops. Basically, it’s a company that my partner, Charles Berry and I are heading up. It is a company that will provide film and television projects as well as music. My album will come up under it. It will also serve as a marketing firm. We will be able to help people market their projects and get them up off the ground. It’s like a one stop thing – we have our own plantation.

AHHA: What’s your role in the Book Bank Foundation?

Jason: It is an honor to be apart of the Book Bank Foundation. We are doing a major event the week of Thanksgiving called Thanksgiving Family Day. We’re going to be providing meals, medicine, clothing, books, and literature promoting literacy within the community and education. We have a lot of people that will be coming through that day that come from the educational background, successful businessmen, athletes, entertainers, and politicians. I am having these people come out because all of these people are successful because of the people, and it’s important that we give back. And we are doing it to let people know that people care and there are people out here that have love in their heart and are sincere, especially in the Black community.

There are so many things in our community that need to be fixed and need to be mended. We need to send hope to our children and let them know that they are loved and appreciated, as well as the parents. They are not in this alone. It’s hard out here. It’s important for the Black mothers and the Black fathers to understand and know that this is a village. It’s important for us to take care of one another. I stand by the foundation a 110%. and it’s an honor to be associated with this project and everyone that is involved in it.

I should also mention that anyone that is in Atlanta area July 17, we are doing a major event that’s going to spearhead the event Thanksgiving. It’s a celebration of my birthday too. I will be 27 this year. It’s also a celebration of all the accomplishments that I have had in my lifetime. We’re going to have the “who’s who” of Atlanta there. Not just the entertainers, but he pillars of the community as well.

AHHA: Is there any advice that you would give to upcoming actors as well as artists?

Jason: Be realistic about your goals and what you are trying to do in this industry. Not everyone is meant to be a star, but if you are passionate about being in the entertainment industry, do some investigating about what other things you can provide behind the scenes. We need more Black writers, film makers, and producers. It’s important that people understand that. Explore all your options. Have faith in what you’re doing, and keep God first because He is the only one who can put you where you need to be. Work hard for what you believe.

AHHA: Wedding bells?

Jason: It has been some confusion about this. Please let it be known that I am single and I am not married. I recently went to the premier of ATL here in Atlanta and I happen to have brought my son’s mother. She is a very cool person and we are friends. We are not married, nor are we not looking to get married. It’s been traveling through the internet, and that is not my wife. I am single.

AHHA: Are you dating?

Jason: Yes, I am looking to date too. As long as the woman has some common sense and she is looking to do something with her life besides trying to get on BET to get in the video, we can talk. I mean if you have done that, it’s cool, but come to the table with something more than that. I really don’t care to hear about your experiences on-set or your modeling experiences and all that. I don’t want to hear any of that conversation.

AHHA: Any last comments?

Jason: Thank you Tambra and AllHipHop.com for taking the time, and it’s been great talking with you again, and thanks for everyone’s support. It’s amazing how I first met you in Jackson, and we speak again. That should be a lesson to everyone too. Always speak with the utmost respect to everyone, because you never know when you will cross paths again. Thank you all.

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