Actor T J Jackson talks about making his feature film “Vacation Friends” during the pandemic and how affirmations and being an inspiration to children keeps him grounded


Written By Leilani Whitfield
Edited By Laura Miller 

When award-winning actor T J Jackson announced his first Hulu film project, he sat on a throne wearing a tailored black African costume with golden embroidered details. He sat upon a kingly seat, firmly holding a golden scepter in his hands that reminded us of our rich heritage and the favor that has always been within our grasp. There has always been a power in our harmonies, power in our unity, power in our voices.

Jackson always knew that his journey didn’t start with him and that I wouldn’t end with him. With every step he takes and every move he makes, he‘s reminded of those behind him and before him – and unlike some actors who have no desire to be role models, he cares about the children and them having someone to look up to. Growing up, he looked up to Denzel Washington – he could tell a story and connect with his impeccable scene partner, says Jackson. The actor hopes to inspire the youth to dream big.

Having graced the television screens on networks like FOX, Disney, ABC, and BET – it is apparent that he never lost his passion, drive, or imagination. “Playing pretend as a child came so naturally, freely, and genuinely to me,” Jackson tells Heart & Soul. “When we were children, we truly believed what was happening to us, and it was easy to pop into “reality two.” Our imagination was so powerful, and somewhere along the route to adulthood, we lost it. Strengthening my imagination and ability to truly live in “reality two” is something I’ll continue to delve deeply into through my journey as an actor,” he says.

That natural gift has earned the star a life and career that one could only dream of. Known for his roles on “Doom Patrol,” “American Soul,” and “Vacation Friends” – Jackson is in love with acting and film and wants to continue producing films and acting for the rest of his life.

The actor and film producer spoke with Heart & Soul about his latest film project “Vacation Friends,” the affirming power of affirmations, and why being an inspiration to children keeps him grounded.

What led you to pursue a career in acting?

I took a theatre class in the 12th grade thinking it would be an easy “A” (senioritis, Lol). I didn’t expect to fall in love with the craft and art form of acting, but that’s what happened. Now it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Let’s talk about your latest project. Can you tell us about how you got aligned to the film “Vacation Friends”?

I received an audition from Jacob and Corey Lawson, my Southeast representation (agents). It came down to me and maybe two other people. The producers wanted us to record ourselves by pretending to play the piano. Well, it just so happened that I know how to play the piano, and I used to write songs. So, I recorded myself playing a song I wrote years ago about this young lady I was in love with. The following day I received the e-mail that I had booked the role.

What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?

“It’s my season, it’s my time,” “It’s gonna be BIG,” “What I bring to the table is enough, because I bring me,” “I am in the ideal place, with the ideal job, with the ideal people surrounding me, living the ideal life.”

How do you actively seek inspiration? Does it find you or is it a combination of the two?

It’s a combination of the two. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason and that everything will work out the way it is supposed to – this inspires me. I also receive inspiration when I think of the youth that I worked with for 8 years. My desire to see them dream bigger than they’ve ever dreamed before inspires me every day to practice what I preach because they are watching and looking up to me as they enter adulthood.

What’s next for you?

The sky is the limit … it’s only the beginning! That’s how I feel when I read or hear this question. I am just getting started and that’s exciting. After the “Vacation Friends” release, I’ll be looking at the release of a short that I’m playing the lead in, then a mini-series that I am executive producing, leading up to the airing of ABC’s “Women of the Movement.” To be a part of that project and powerful story is an absolute honor and privilege. I hope that I did justice to the story and the memory of Emmett Till. After the Holidays and New Year comes I have a recurring appearance on one of Tyler Perry’s hit shows in which even Tyler Perry himself told me that I did a good job. What an honor.

For more information, follow T J Jackson on IG @iamtjjackson.