Actor Jahi Winston (14) is taking 2018 by storm! He already started the year off amazing with a box officer movie along side Taraji P Hensen and Danny Glover in ‘Proud Mary’. The movie was released on January 12th and received amazing feedback for his role.. February came around and he got to shine on Netflix with a 10 episode series entitled ‘Everything Sucks’. After watching him shine on both the big screen and small screen , we had to find out more about this amazing child actor. In this chat, he talks his beginnings, working with Taraji, Kevin Hart giving free pizza and more.
Jahi Winston’s first professional gig was playing ‘Young Simba’ in ‘The Lion King’. It took place in NY.
“A friend of my brother actually saw the breakdown for it and suggested that he give it to me so I could audition…confusing I know!!! I went to the audition and there were about 1,000 kids there also auditioning. I kept getting called back and eventually I got my first job as Simba in the Lion King.” What was your favorite thing about being on Broadway? “My favorite thing about Broadway is the discipline that comes with doing theatre. I learned work ethic and discipline in theatre that I don’t believe film and television gives you. These are things that will stay with me throughout my entire career.”
“Proud Mary’ debuted in theaters on January 12. He played the role of “Danny,” a young teen doing his best to navigate life in Boston. Jahi is the second lead opposite Taraji P. Henson who plays “Mary,” a hit woman working for an organized crime family. Jahi and Taraji’s worlds are flipped upside when one a professional hits goes awry. “The main thing about the “Proud Mary” script is when I was reading it, I thought it was so cool that there was a woman being portrayed in a powerful and uplifting way, instead of a damsel in distress. Then I realized that this was a woman of color, I knew I had to be a part of it somehow, some way and I’m so honored that I was able to achieve that.” How did you prepare for that kind of role? “Well, there was really no intense preparation or process. For any role I do I just try to dig as deep as I can into that character. For Danny, it was really hard because I had never played a role that required that much emotion.” How was it working with Taraji P Henson? “Amazing! We connected on a level that was much deeper than these two characters in my opinion. We connected on a level that I really felt the entire time we were shooting. I love her and I can’t wait to work with her again.” What did you learn working with her? “I really learned about the ability to switch from one character to another expeditiously and that is something that she does very well. Every time we were about to shoot, she was being herself and then she would transform into “Mary” the assassin and I was always floored by that.”
How was it seeing yourself on the big screen? “It’s always a combination between surreal and weird because I can’t believe it’s me. I also critique myself to the fullest so, whenever I do something my goal is to always watch it and not hate it.” How was it transitioning from Broadway to on screen? “For me it was easy, but I think that’s because I’m used to being in situations where I have to adapt. Also, I’ve been following the film and television industry way before I was in it so for me, it was just a matter of seeing it in person.”
‘Everything Sucks’ is a 10 episode series on Netflix that follows two groups of high school misfits – the AV club and the drama club who collide in this quirky, funny coming-of-age story set in Oregon in 1996. Jahi plays the lead role of freshman “Luke O’Neil,” the only child of a single mom who joins his school’s AV Club. Do you and your character have anything in common? “Luke and I are pretty different as far as how we go about certain situations, for example if someone says they don’t like me, they only have to tell me once. You’ll get that reference when you watch the show.” Any kind words for those high school ‘misfits’ trying to make it to graduation? “Hang in there! It’s never as long as you think, just keep working hard because all the “drama” that you worry about will no longer matter. Once you think about everything that was stressful to you in high school, all you’ll be able to do is laugh.”
‘The Upside’ is a remake of ‘The Intouchables’. What drew you to the script for the remake? What did you think of the original? “I actually haven’t seen the original but I hear it’s great (ha-ha).” How was it playing alongside Kevin Hart and what did you learn from working with him? “Kevin is a really nice guy!!! He was so gracious and fun!! He gave me free pizza, which was lit!” Being on set with Kevin Hart has to be fun. What has been the funniest moment on set? “The funniest moment had to be when we were in the car and Kevin said he knew I couldn’t play Basketball because I had a, “Can’t play Basketball kind of head.” That was pretty funny.”
You are also in singing, when can we hear new music? “I currently have a single out entitled “SHINE.” You can pick that up on any music streaming outlet. I’ll have new music out very soon. All in good time.” Tell our readers about your nonprofit ‘You Can Too’ and how they can help. “You Can Too is a non-profit organization started by me to help all kids, but specifically inner city kids follow their dreams and goals mainly in Arts and Entertainment and for them to not be limited by their environment.”
How do you balance life and acting at the same time? “I balance them with my family. When I’m not working I do regular things! I go to church, I volunteer, I hang out with my family and friends. I’m close to my brother and sister so I miss them when I’m away working. I’m grateful when we’re together. I’m very grateful for my family.” How do you stay humble as a child actor? “Family as well. When I’m home I’m just one of the kids! Lol” Advice for any new coming child actors? “Work hard and Work smart and don’t quit!”
‘Everything Sucks’ is available on Netflix.
‘The Upside’ has not gotten an official release date. It did premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
Comment below with your questions to see some of them the next time we chat with this actor.