THE NURTURING OF MEN ARTIST PROFILES
By Fabiola Cineas
An Atlanta, Georgia native, Jeremiah Jahi, has been acting since he was a child. With his affinity for theater, Jahi says most people have no idea that he is a former U.S. Marine and veteran of combat. His role in The Nurturing of Men gave him the opportunity to explore a different side of his craft. Read more about Jahi’s nontraditional path to acting and his time on set below.
Talk about your path as an actor. How did you get into acting? I started acting at a young age. I acted in school plays in elementary school and in high school. When I was in the Marines for four years, I wrote a lot of scripts, and I performed in plays around the country depending on where I was stationed. After the Marines I decided to go to school for acting in New York to develop my craft some more, and in New York I did more writing and more theater.
Can you say more about your connection to theater? Theater has always been my first love. With theater I get a response from an audience that is right there, and that is a great feeling.
What drew you to try out for a role in The Nurturing of Men being that it is a short film? I saw the role of pastor Webb and I saw the synopsis and thought to myself that this is something I could be interested in. The title alone enticed me, and I knew I had the character in my bones.
By saying you had pastor Webb in your bones, are you suggesting you identify with him in some way? I grew up with a Pentecostal background, close to the 7th Day Adventist faith. I went to church on Saturdays and growing up in that background I ran into a lot of people across the board like pastor Webb. So over the years that kind of character has definitely impacted my life.
Did you face any difficulty playing this character? I don’t think an actor can always fully grasp a character. After playing a role there are moments when I think about the different choices I could have made. So that’s a difficulty but while I’m acting I try to give the director what he or she wants as much as possible. You have to let them guide you.
What did you enjoy about playing the role? First, I really enjoyed how Lionel made pastor Webb a hip character. He isn’t a shirt and tie kind of preacher. Instead he was more relaxed and if this weren’t the case the story would have gone in another direction. Next, there was something about getting up in front of a bunch of people and getting them to believe in me as a pastor even though I am not. I had to get everyone to buy into what I was saying.
Is there a role that you usually go for? There isn’t a role I usually go for but I am often casted as a stern father. And I get it. The pastor Webb role allowed me to show another side.
Is there a film or play that has significantly influenced you ? All of August Wilson’s plays have impacted me. All of the characters in his plays are in my family; I know them. And for film, I am a lover of foreign and independent films. They deal with real stories and the issues of real people.
So do you think there is something the film industry should be doing more of? The mainstream film industry is doing what it is designed to do. I’m not sure there’s anything more they can be doing. That’s why we have independant film to fill in those important spaces that the mainstream doesn’t deal with. The mainstream is all about corporations, but independant films address the struggle and deal with who people are from the inside.
What excites you most about the work you do? What motivates you to keep going? Some people talk about this burning desire they have inside to do something. It’s something that is calling them and it shakes them and touches them all the time. It’s something that they aren’t in control of and no matter where they try to run or hide the feeling is always knocking. For me it’s the same thing. This is a long and tiring road. I question it. But I feel like I have no choice but to keep expressing myself and moving forward.
What is on the horizon for you? I’m currently in post-production on a writing/directing feature. This is the first feature I’ve written and directed. I have also been doing a lot of audition. I have two other films coming out next year and I’m also writing my next feature.