Checking In With… Ain’t Too Proud Star Jawan M. Jackson

As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.

The series continues with Jawan M. Jackson, who created the role of Melvin Franklin in the Tony-nominated Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations, currently on hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic. Jackson, who made his Broadway debut in Motown the Musical, has been seen on screen in Love Thyself, The Get Down, For the Love of Musiq, and The Nightmare Before Christmas in Concert.

Checking In With… Tina: The Tina Turner Musical Tony Nominee Daniel J. Watts

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Ephraim Sykes, Jeremy Pope, James Harkness, and Jawan M. Jackson Matthew Murphy

What is your typical day like now?
My typical day consists of waking up, walking my dog Haarlem, and then playing my Alexa daily horoscope. Next, depending on the day, I head to the gym to meet with my personal trainer or do a solo workout. Quarantine has loved on my body weight really well, so trying to maintain my weight to stay show ready is the challenge. Thankfully, I’ve also been consistently working during the pandemic, which is something I’m truly grateful for. Regarding work, I am typically preparing audition sides or material for upcoming events that I have.

What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
A couple of books that I highly recommend—and have probably read two or three times—are Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, and Unshakeable by Tony Robbins.

There are so many great shows out right now that it’s hard to choose! A few of my top favorites are 911 on Fox and For Life on ABC, and my two new favorites are Bridgerton and All American.

During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
Simple: Treat your people right! Also, learn and take the time to know and understand the people you’re employing, hiring, working with, and coming to see perform.

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Jawan M. Jackson and Rosie O’Donnell Bruce Glikas

What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Remain positive and do your part in the best way you can. Donate money if you have extra funds to support a cause. Going on Zoom with friends has been one thing that has helped me get through this time of isolation (although I’m naturally a homebody). Spark connections with people you’ve lost touch with. Write down goals and aspirations, and then work toward achieving those goals that you’ve set for yourself.

How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
What’s been helpful to me has been my quarantine bubble of four of my friends that I have to call by name because they’ve been my saving grace during this time. They are Felicia Boswell, Aaron Marcellus, Derick Monroe, and Ty Powell. They’ve kept me motivated, encouraged, fed, healthy, and loved during this time. It’s also great because they’re creative themselves, so we helped each other keep the juices flowing—when one of us falls, the other is there to pick up the slack and pull us back together. I’m so grateful and fortunate for them.

What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
During this time, the Actors Fund has become my creative outlet allowing me to be a part of several virtual readings. Those have been so much fun especially because I get to do it with people who I haven’t seen since the lockdown. The [most recent was] One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, again benefiting the Actor Fund. Also one of my favorite organizations to shout out and help is Rosie’s Theater Kids. If you have it in your heart, donate to them.

Checking In With… 2020 Slave Play Tony Nominee Chalia La Tour