*William Jackson Harper is an incredible force to be reckoned with. You know him as Chidi Anagonye from NBC’s “The Good Place,” but did you know that in addition to acting on TV, he does also film, and theatre … both on the stage and as a playwright.
He has a passion for the creative and when asked about his “big break,” he got candid and introspective for a moment.
Jackson Harper, just before he got the role as Chidi, was going to “take a break” from acting and thank God he didn’t because we would not have gotten to know the special intricacies that he brings to his character on “The Good Place.”
“Everyone deals with reevaluating whether or not you want to continue to act because it is a job that you have to be invited to do and it gets rough,” he told us.
Playing Chidi has allowed the actor to reflect on how he, as a man and as a person, is putting “good” into the world a lot more.
“Sometimes kindness can be painted as something naive and it makes you a bit of a sucker and that is just not at all the truth,” Jackson Harper says.
It’s not the truth for him especially, because when he thinks about the people he gets to work with, in front of the camera and behind the scenes, they prove that good goes a long way, every day. Also, Chidi in a lot of ways, is a manifestation of Jackson Harper’s inner monologue and having that become an “outer monologue on steroids,” has allowed him to become more of a “shoot from the hip” kind of person and perhaps a bit more of an extrovert in his own life. Doing this show has also shown him, that in his own life, he can often become locked up and paralyzed, as many of us often feel, but playing Chidi, has helped him move away from that a lot more.
Jackson Harper also talked about diversity in film and TV. When asked what advice he would give up and coming actors and specifically, ones of color, he spoke about “saying yes to everything” just to work, improve and meet people. Learn from those people that creatively challenge you. Mimic those that inspire you. Continue to do that over and over again. Then, when you find that you are getting some sort of stability as an actor and you are starting to work more consistently, then you can be a little more selective in what you are choosing to do. You can then do the things you are really passionate about.
When speaking about diversity, specifically, Jackson Harper believes that it’s kind of an “ebb and flow.” He thinks that as an actor of color, you should not limit yourself. This present day is not the first time we are seeing diverse types of people playing interesting roles, so don’t wait for that representation to be present. It’s easy to see in the casting process that a specific character isn’t written for a person of color, but don’t think that counts you out, William advises. “It’s not true,” he reminds. Be open to playing all kinds of parts, he recommends. His character in the movie, “Midsommar,” is an anthropologist. He is also a black man and it doesn’t color the world in a different way because it’s not germane to the story.
“Just because we won’t see all the change we want to see, all at once, doesn’t mean it’s not worth pushing for all the change we want to see,” says Jackson Harper.
“It is our responsibility, as actors, as consumers, as audiences, to remind Hollywood when we start slipping back that we shouldn’t be doing that,” he added.
On speaking about love, relationships and soulmates, the actor pauses, reflects on his real life, long term relationship and says he is “still trying to figure out how to be a decent partner.” But, he believes when it comes to finding a partner, it has to be a natural coming together of the minds, spirit and soul. Often times, when we focus on “finding the thing,” it becomes about finding the relationship. Finding the person. Being in the relationship. Focusing on the relationship. Achieving the thing, rather than finding the person. He says while laughing: “I think I might be BS-ing. At the end of the day, be with the person that it feels natural with!”
We asked William Harper Jackson what he wanted his legacy to be and what mark in this world he wanted to have, he said that what really thrills him is when people say …
“Man, it really makes me happy to see a guy like you, playing a part like that. I really understand that guy. I am that guy in a lot of ways.”
Jackson Harper’s Chidi has allowed us to see a character that is not so conventional, has quirks, is a bit nerdy, but is also the “hot guy” that is considered sexy. Chidi breaks stereotypes and that is what is resonating with audiences and contributes to why “The Good Place” has such a solid fan base and is so relatable. Jackson Harper also told us that he wants to be an artist that’s never afraid to try anything, isn’t afraid to take a big swing and ultimately, at the end of the day, be known as an honest artist.
So, what’s next for William Jackson Harper and where can you find him? Well, he is currently in production on Barry Jenkins’ Amazon limited series “The Underground Railroad,” set to premiere in late 2020. He can currently be seen in Focus Features’ legal drama “Dark Waters” which centers on the scandal revolving around the DuPont chemical company, directed by Todd Haynes. In it, Harper stars alongside Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins. As we mentioned above, he can also be seen in A24’s thriller “Midsommar.” ZHe is also starring in the buddy comedy, turned crime thriller “Lost Holiday” which premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival. On television, Jackson Harper appears as the character Xander opposite John Krasinski in the second season of Amazon’s “Jack Ryan.”
So, it seems, William Harper Jackson, is following his own advice … he is saying yes to working, yes to creating great content and is taking the big swings! When asked about his “Big Break,” he says “The Good Place” was his and it has taught him to just be good.
As a guiding principle, put some good in the world and all else will fall into place,” he advises.
You can watch William Harper Jackson on “The Good Place,” in its final season, on NBC, every Thursday.
The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)
*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.
The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.
“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”
Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”
The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.
“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”
Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”
In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.
“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”
Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.
“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”
Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”
New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’
*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.
“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).
It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.
EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.
Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars. As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.
This year has been a year like no other. “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead. Radio Programmers click here for adds.
“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA. Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita. The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture. “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms. Click here to listen on Spotify.
Celebrate Halloween with ‘Spell’ Starring Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and John Beasley / WATCH
*Today/TONIGHT is Halloween and what could be a more perfect way to celebrate than with the release of SPELL? Enjoy the clips below to get you in the spooky spirit!
Omari Hardwick (“Power,” Sorry to Bother You), Loretta Devine (“Black-ish,” Crash) and John Beasley (The Sum of All Fears, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) star in the terrifying thriller SPELL, coming to Premium Video-On-Demand and Digital today October 30 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
DIRECTED BY | Mark Tonderai
SCREENPLAY BY | Kurt Wimmer
STARRING | Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley
AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS | Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, DirecTV, VUDU, Xfinity, FandangoNOW and more.
Rating | R – violence, disturbing/bloody images, and language
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