Calling all HAMILTEENS—and everyone else!
As you know, the smash musical HAMILTON has taken Broadway—and the rest of the world—by storm. In addition to showcasing the founding of our country and the evolution of music through everlasting lyrics and ingenious rhyme, HAMILTON boasts a brilliant and expertly-cast company of performers.
And one of its superstars is Christopher Jackson.
Whether you’ve been a fan of Mr. Jackson since THE LION KING or IN THE HEIGHTS, or have just discovered him in his Tony-nominated and history-making role of George Washington in HAMILTON, you know that he is a consummate actor and phenomenally gifted singer. As Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of HAMILTON) tweeted: “No one can riff like Chris Jackson.”
But did you know that Mr. Jackson is also a composer, lyricist and writer? In addition to his Broadway creds, Mr. Jackson’s resume includes numerous film and television roles. In fact, he co-wrote an Emmy-award-winning song for television: “What I Am” for Sesame Street (performed by The Muppets and will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas.) Mr. Jackson’s acclaimed solo album In the Name of Love further showcases his musical versatility, which is also shown in the songs he wrote for LL Cool J, Ne-Yo, Mario, Sean Kingston and other A-listers. Christopher Jackson takes his multi-faceted creativity seriously—and takes young people’s creativity seriously, too.
I had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Jackson recently, after a performance of HAMILTON. He is one of the kindest, most grounded and down-to-earth people. There is so much to learn from him, and he is so generous with his time as well as encouraging with his words.
What’s your advice to teens interested in performing arts? What should they do?
Christopher Jackson: “Participate! In everything that you can. Read every book that you can get your hands on, and be a good citizen. Know what’s happening in the world around you: that’s what informs all art that you are seeing here. And… if you’re able to do that, then at least you’ll walk into the room… building your understanding as an artist. And you’ll figure out what it is you want to say. That will change everything.”
Even if you get discouraged, keep going?
Christopher Jackson: “Are you a writer? Are you an actor? Whatever art is your passion, keep doing it. Keep pushing, keep plugging. Don’t let negative feedback stop you, don’t let anyone tell you ‘you can’t.’ Listen to yourself… and do what’s right for your art. Honor your art. Take it seriously. And take the risk.”
Anything else to keep in mind?
Christopher Jackson: “Stay with it. Stick with your passion—writing, acting, music, whatever it is—because the world needs creative people in it. The world needs creative young people like you. Get out there….Make connections. Performing arts is a whole education…a viable career. If that’s your passion…and you put your mind to it, anything is possible.”
Special thanks to Christopher Jackson from Anna Allport and Camp Broadway for this special interview opportunity!