As generations of talent move into entertainment there is often a couple who stands out from the crowd in their abilities to wear many hats. In this new crop of stars, Trevor Jackson fits the bill. With Superfly opening this weekend, the star power of the 21-year-old actor and singer/songwriter is thrust into the masses.
For those unfamiliar with the brand, Superfly is the reboot of the 1972 blaxploitation film of the same name. Jackson takes over for the legendary Ron O’neal as Priest, looking to get out of the drug game before murdered, however, wants to grab one last bag prior to his street retirement. Jackson finds himself surrounded by a bunch of talent in the film in Jason Mitchell, who is on an impressive run himself, Michael K. Williams and more. The risque role shows diversity in his talent and has caught eyes from everyone from die-hards of the original to casual filmgoers, marking a moment in a career that is gathering its legs.
But to limit 2018 for Trevor Jackson to just being in Superfly would be selling the young man short. Many became familiar with Jackson in his role as Aaron on Grown-ish, starring opposite of the darling Yara Shahidi. For those who took a deeper look into Jackson, they have come across his stellar R&B album Rough Drafts, which released in March and he has hand-crafted every visual for. The album, as he described on Instagram, delivered him “out of a very dark place” but now is a shining light of what he will bring in the future.
During a March tour stop in Chicago, Trevor Jackson sat down to talk about the growth of his career, the ability to wear multiple hats and why Superfly was special, but challenging, for him.
Shawn Grant: You’re balancing a lot right now, so what is it like for you to move between acting and singing?
Trevor Jackson: You know, it’s difficult and a lot of trying to rest but I always have something to do. So every video off of this album I edited videos while we were on tour. I just got my hands on everything so that it’s me. For a long time, I have had people telling me to be and I’m glad that you mentioned that.
What’s your process like from switching between being an artist and then going into like crafting that visual?
I normally come up with it while I’m making or it’d be like right after I make a song, I’ll probably be proud. Me and my brother chilling and we come up with the concept, but most of the time I know what it is when I’m making. If I can’t see myself singing it I probably won’t. I’ll stop making the song and then move on. So like “Unpacking,” I already have the video done, but when I was making it I was like, I know exactly when we want it to be yelling and I want clothes coming in. But yeah, it should all be wondering when it’s happening.
The Rough Draft album is kind of like a signal of where you are in life. What led to you know that this was the right time for the album didn’t come out?
I didn’t know. I just wanted to put it out as soon as I was able to. I was trying to get out of the deal. I just had to deal with a lot of valuable stuff, bro. I’ve been sitting on music since I last put music out, that’s why I was telling her there is like three albums of music I’m just sitting on. I got two more that I’m ready to drop now.
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Is it hard to like be able to create their contract and then stockpiling it? Still, feel connected to it as the time goes on?
Of course. Very hard to do that. That’s why I’m always making new stuff. And this album I kept taking songs off and putting them back on because of exactly what you said. Feeling that the way I used to. When I, when I’m making a song, I listened to it all day every day for a solid month and got until I believe I have to believe in more than anybody else in order for me to go along with it. Because how can I, you know, have anybody on my team or anybody that I want to fuck with my music, believe me, if I don’t really believe that it’s amazing. It’s like Muhammed Ali before he knew he was great he would always say it. That’s how I am about my music.
We’ve been saying this a busy time for you and Superfly taking over the summer. What was it like working on that film and that character? And then did you also feel like the societal pressure that will automatically connect you to that 1972 classic?
I feel like anything I do is already going to be some type of people they’re going to hate on whatever. But I was honored to even audition. This is a role that I wanted really badly. My dad showed me the film when I was young and I’m like why I don’t want to watch it? And I got older and I understood what it meant to black people. So the fact that I got to do it and do it in the new cool way is awesome, but I’m doing all my own stunts in the movie them fighting and I’m shooting only jumping over shit. It’s really, really like a dream come true for me because when I was little all I did was watch Blade and Will Smith and obvious legendary black people who were in the film.
What’s the difference for preparing for a role like Superfly and then what you do with Grown-ish?
Grown-ish, I don’t really have to do much preparation. I honestly, that’s why I love the show because the writers are so good. They let me be myself. Most of the ducktail stuff they wrote in just to dive into. I am. So I really just get to go in there and read the lines. And for Superfly, the hardest part for me was such like a boss type character that I tried to be still. And as you can tell, it’s very hard for me when I’m talking to doing anything very sort of be, have to be still and like move, you know, settled. That was probably the most difficult part. But like I said, dude, that was, it was crazy. Crazy experience.