THEATRE ACTOR GOES ON NATIONAL TOUR OF BROADWAY’S STAGE ADAPTION OF ‘A BRONX TALE’

THEATRE ACTOR GOES ON NATIONAL TOUR OF BROADWAY’S STAGE ADAPTION OF ‘A BRONX TALE’

Pictured L-R Brandi Porter, Ashley McManus, Brianna Marie-Bell, Jason Williams, Kirk Lydell, Antonio Beverly in Broadway’s ‘A Bronx Tale’ in October 2018 at Hollywood Pantages |  Courtesy of Joan Marcus Photography

Pictured L-R Brandi Porter, Ashley McManus, Brianna Marie-Bell, Jason Williams, Kirk Lydell, Antonio Beverly in Broadway’s ‘A Bronx Tale’ in October 2018 at Hollywood Pantages | Courtesy of Joan Marcus Photography

THEATRE ACTOR GOES ON NATIONAL TOUR OF BROADWAY’S STAGE ADAPTION OF ‘A BRONX TALE’

Jason Williams is a New York based performer currently playing “Jesse” on the Broadway’s first ever National Tour of “A Bronx Tale.” This University of Maryland graduate and native has been performing professionally for the last fifteen years in National and International tours including “Dreamgirls”, Little Albert in South Korea “Madagascar Live!”, Skipper in the UK and China, and regionally in shows including “Tarzan,” “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,”and “Chicago.” This energetic and resilient performer has traveled the world and we had a second to sit down with him and discuss his ambitious life and passionate drive for his career.

- Mary Swanson

NIE - Thank you for taking your time and having this interview with us. Congratulations in performing on Broadway’s first national tour of ‘A Bronx Tale’. How has the experience been?

Jason Williams - I love touring! A Bronx Tale is my 10th national tour and it's been an awesome experience! it's always a joy to be able to travel around the country with a show many wouldn't get to see if they couldn't travel to New York City. If I had to choose a favorite city, it'd have to be Chicago where we performed at the Nederlander Theater for two weeks [in] March [on the] 12th [through the] 24th. We had some great audiences, we were there for St. Patrick's day to see the river dyed green and I got to check out the 2019 Big Ten Men’s basketball tournament [at the United Center]. My favorite part of Chicago though would most definitely be the food! I could live there for the food alone!

“Rejection is a big part of the business but beating yourself up over it is counterproductive. Embrace your journey… and.. kind to yourself.”

- Jason Williams

Jason Williams on the red carpet for Broadway’s ‘A Bronx Tale’ |  Courtesy of Jason Williams and Broadway’s ‘A Bronx Tale’

Jason Williams on the red carpet for Broadway’s ‘A Bronx Tale’ | Courtesy of Jason Williams and Broadway’s ‘A Bronx Tale’

NIE - How did this process of being casted happen and how was rehearsals? And what does it mean to you to be selected and how will this impact your career?

Jason Williams - Auditions for the tour started back in July of 2018 and consisted of a couple rounds with various members of the creative team culminating with a final call back (audition) in front of producers and the entire creative team including one of our co-directors (Jerry Zaks) and the man behind the story of the musical himself Chazz Palminteri! Getting the opportunity to be a part of a 1st national tour is truly a dream come true! i'm truly grateful every day to get to be a part of a movie I've loved for years and bring it to life on stage.

NIE - Wow that must have been an amazing experience. How was it meeting Robert De Niro and Chazz Palminteri?

Jason Williams - Meeting Co-Director (Robert De Niro) and Creator of the show (Chazz Palminteri) was a real honor and pretty surreal. They were both extremely gracious and appreciative of the work we do onstage. I was really humbled to be able to shake there hands and have a moment with them. I'm honestly still a little in shock from it!

NIE - What other shows have you performed in? And where? Where’s the farthest you have traveled? Which of the shows was your favorite to perform and why?

Jason Williams - I've been luckily enough to be in lots of different types of shows ranging from "Dora the explorer Live!" (boots the monkey) and "Madagascar Live!" (Skipper) to "Smokey Joe's Cafe" (Victor), and "Dreamgirls." Ive been fortunate enough to travel the world with some of these shows as well! I’ve toured China and South Korea with "Madagascar Live!" and "Dreamgirls" respectively, and Australia and New Zealand with "Dora the Explorer Live!" My favorite country would have to be Australia, Sydney specifically! Though New Zealand was probably the most beautiful country I have ever seen. So Green!

“Always be prepared for the opportunity.”

- Jason Williams

NIE - How do you prepare yourself for a show? And how do you overcome your nerves? What helps you perform to the best of your ability?

Jason Williams - I don't like to push my nerves down or away before the show, I try to use them. I usually always have them because i'm so anxious to get on stage! Generally to get ready for the show I do a lot of stretching and warming up. I try to build up a sweat before I get on stage. Keeping up with the health of my body is paramount to making sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Rest and diet are all essential in making sure I have the energy to get through the show as well.

NIE - Where did the desire to be in theater stem from?

Jason Williams - When I was a kid I loved watching shows like "Mickey Mouse Club," "Kids Incorporated," "Roundhouse," and my absolute favorite " Star Search." If I saw singing and dancing on tv, especially if kids were the ones doing it, I was into it! I used to learn routines and songs, and even create my own, so the bug started really early! I tell people all the time i'm from the Janet Jackson school of dance since my first dance classes came from watching her videos. She was one the first artists who's music video I saw and thought to myself "I want/can do that!!" Rhythm Nation was probably the video that started it all for me.

NIE - As a performer, what would you say is the biggest asset for any singer/dancer/stage performer in the industry to achieve?

Jason Williams - I think by far the biggest asset you can have in this business is self-esteem and self-motivation. You hear a lot of No's in the business and you have to be able to not let that be an indictment of your talent. It takes perseverance to endure rejection but still know you are enough, you belong, and you can keep going. These things are easier said than done, but in my experience those are the two things that show up consistently.

NIE - What are some of your secret tips that help you in this industry to keep grounded and focused?

Jason Williams - For me I try not to hold on to auditions as a way to keep my sanity! haha. once the audition is over, I try to let it go. One way I do that is by sometimes recording myself in the room. Sometimes you can leave the room and think you did better or worse than you actually did. Recording it allows me to hear back what I did in the room accurately and improve upon it or cut myself a break haha.

Pictured from L-R (Antonio Beverly, Ashley McManus, Kirk Lydell, Brianna Marie-Bell, Brandi Porter, and Jason Williams in October 2018 at Hollywood Pantages |  Courtesy of Joan Marcus Photography

Pictured from L-R (Antonio Beverly, Ashley McManus, Kirk Lydell, Brianna Marie-Bell, Brandi Porter, and Jason Williams in October 2018 at Hollywood Pantages | Courtesy of Joan Marcus Photography

NIE - Who inspires you?

Jason Williams - I think I get my drive and work ethic from my parents so in life they are big inspirations to me. As far as other artists who inspire me, Janet Jackson, Billy Porter, Viola Davis just to name a few.

NIE - Those are some great inspirations. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a career in theater?

Jason Williams - Believe in yourself would be first and foremost. Find your "why". Why you do this, why you want to perform. Finding out your "why" is a big step to finding out who you are in the business. And also I tell people all the time to find their "happy" outside of the business. Sometimes you can go spells without working and finding things that make you happy outside of business have been key to keeping me calm, focused, and here's that word again. . .Sane!

Jason Williams in Harlem, NYC in December 2016 |  Courtesy of Ashley Chui Photography

Jason Williams in Harlem, NYC in December 2016 | Courtesy of Ashley Chui Photography

NIE - I think we all can benefit, and even, relate to that. What are the most impactful words of wisdom someone told you and who was it?

Jason Williams - There’s one quote I’ve played over and over in my head since it was said to me. I had just moved to NY and I met Broadway veteran Anthony Wayne. I asked him for advice on the business and he said “Always be prepared for the opportunity.” It’s truly become a mantra. It’s pretty self-explanatory and straight forward, but a lot of this business involves being patient, and essentially waiting your turn. But when it is your turn, be prepared for the opportunity, seize it and go!

NIE - Great mind set. You’re inspiring me. What are three things you would say to your younger self that you know now?

Jason Williams - The first thing I would say is you are enough! Doubt and fear are such energy drainers, and I wasted so much time with them early in my career. Next I’d say embrace your journey. It’s tough not to compare yourself to others but there’s no one way to do this. And last I’d say be kind to yourself. Rejection is a big part of the business but beating yourself up over it is counterproductive. Use that initial disappointment and turn that energy into the drive for your next opportunity.

Selfie of Jason Williams in his “Jesse” costume backstage for ‘A Bronx Tale’ | Courtesy of Jason Williams

Selfie of Jason Williams in his “Jesse” costume backstage for ‘A Bronx Tale’ | Courtesy of Jason Williams

NIE - Last but definitely not lest because we know you have to go on stage, anyone you would like to give a shoutout to?

Jason Williams - I'd like to thank Tara Rubin Casting and the creative team of Bronx Tale for giving me the opportunity to do a show I've wanted to do since I knew it was being turned into a musical! This tour really has been a dream come true! And as always i'm eternally grateful to my family and friends for their unwavering support.

Jason Williams is currently performing in Broadway’s ‘A Bronx Tale’ in Cleveland, Ohio at the Playhouse Square Palace Theater until May 12, 2019. Following in Madison, WI, Fort Lauderdale, FL, New Haven, CT, FT. Worth, TX, and finally in Kansas City, MO. For more details, information and tickets visit https://abronxtalethemusical.com Follow Jason now on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

- Mary Swanson

AWARD-WINNING ACTRESS LIVING HER BEST LIFE

AWARD-WINNING ACTRESS LIVING HER BEST LIFE

SINGER OPENS IN CONCERT FOR THE ICONIC LEGEND DIONNE WARWICK

SINGER OPENS IN CONCERT FOR THE ICONIC LEGEND DIONNE WARWICK