J A H I W I N S T O N
Interview } Ken Waller
Photographs by} Keith Saunders
KW: How was making the transition from Broadway to Film?
JW: I found my transition from performing on stage to screen relatively seamless. I loved performing live, but I knew it was the right time to venture into other things. I’m super grateful for the tools that my time in The Lion King gave me to do other things while maintaining a robust and consistent work ethic and discipline. I don’t think I would’ve ever learned those things if it were not for me performing 4-8 times a week as a kid.
KW: While on Broadway did you have any experience with comedic roles?
JW: I’ve always had an appreciation for comedic acting, even though my time in the theater didn’t entail a lot of that particular style. I grew up watching sitcoms like A Different World, Martin, That 70’s Show and That’s So Raven – to name a few. I think those shows influenced the way I approach comedy. It’s a lot more calculative than people would think; it’s about pacing, timing, delivery, etc…I’d love to do more comedic roles (hopefully a dark comedy next!)
KW: Charm City Kings was such a strong coming of age story for young African American males. What did you take away from that experience?
JW: I loved doing Charm City Kings! My biggest takeaway from that experience was the endurance required to lead a film. I worked every single day on that movie for almost three months straight without any days off, and it was challenging at times, but it strengthened my work ethic and taught me how to carry out a project while maintaining a sense of grace and humility. It was also really cool to open up a conversation about toxic masculinity and shed light on the dirt bike culture in West Baltimore and the community within it.
KW: Now that you have experienced both Broadway and film, what genre to you find yourself leaning towards?
JW: I want to be a part of anything that will allow me to grow as an artist and performer. I don’t really have a preferred genre or medium. Whether it be my music, performing on stage or screen, I just want to do great work and evolve in the most organic way possible. I look forward to broadening my range and audience as I venture into my next career era.
KW: Finish this sentence… I worked with Jahi on a film and I have to tell you, he cannot stop talking about
JW: …Hot Cheetos! They’re my go-to snack in life and on set! It would either be that or music. I’m always humming or singing some random song between takes. Hopefully, I’m not too insufferable to everyone around me! Haha!
Follow Jahi on instagram. @jahiwinston