*Romany Malco is a face we’ve seen in both TV and film for years. Whether it was as Jay in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Zeke in Think Like a Man 1 & 2 or as Conrad Shepard on Weeds, fans have appreciated the humor and relatability he brings to every project.
While currently starring in the hit ABC drama, A Million Little Things, Malco is releasing a passion project 20 years in the making. “Tijuana Jackson: Purpose over prison” sees Malco in the multi-hyphenate roles of writer, director, producer and star.
In this mockumentary, Tijuana Jackson is a man determined to move beyond his checkered past following his release from prison. His dream is to become a motivational speaker. When asked to be the subject of a 10 minute student film, TJ leaps at the opportunity. 10 minutes turns into 10 hours, and 10 hours become 10 life altering days.
The film also stars Regina Hall ( ‘Girl’s Trip,’ ‘Black Monday’) as TJ’s probation officer and crush. With film crew in tow, Tijuana Jackson takes us on the ride of our lives in this laugh out loud comedy. Running from his past, he collides with his future and steps on every toe in the room, dropping golden nuggets of wisdom along the way.
Malco first created the character as a skit on MySpace and JustinTV in the 2007. As time went on, the character developed a fanbase. Malco then transition to YouTube in 2011, where he received a full page write in the New York Times.
In fact, it was the fans love that helped finance the project. Malco financed the film without a major studio backing him. He raised over $200,000 from fans and supporters via an indie go-go campaign, and then personally invested his own funds.
Malco spoke with EURweb correspondent Jill Munroe about the journey to get the film made, why he believes it’s important to reach out to a demographic that has been written off by society and the importance of on-set diversity.
On why he developed the role:
I was trying to help a demographic that I’ve grown up around, kids who I grew up with that kind of get written off as deplorable. When you live in poor communities, you are robbed of resources and education. Being someone who has lived in other countries – I went to school in Trindad-Tobago – no matter how poor you were, you got a quality education. I wanted to create something that would help those kids and educate them in a way that they would grasp on to. So I created this character and started talking about introspection, personal development and economics. They really gravitated towards it. And before you know it, a character I was using to show them to have a bigger vision for themselves, they in turn showed me how to have a bigger vision for this character. They said you need to make this into a movie.
On the importance of having creative control:
How often do you have a Black director, who maintains ownership of his film? Even though it’s an independent film, it’s being acknowledged on major platforms across the country. I feel that’s groundbreaking. I’m happy to be pioneering that, and hopefully opening the door for other brothers and sisters in the game.
The film also stars Tami Roman (“Basketball Wives”) as TJ’s sister, Sharea. Alkoya Brunson (“Almost Christmas”), as TJ’s nephew, Lil Eric. And Baadja-Lyne Odoms (“The Lady Killers”) portrays TJ’s mother, Momma Jackson.
“Tijuana Jackson: Purpose over Prison” is available On Demand beginning July 31. For more information visit https://www.tijuanajackson.com/