by Andre Jackson on October 20th, 2015

Around this time every year, I autograph HUNDREDS of posters to raise money for a great cause - Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids.  Despite losing full function of my dominant hand for a few months, it's a worthwhile effort t​o mobilize the unique abilities within the entertainment industry to mitigate the suffering of individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. If you're visiting Broadway or one of our awesome touring productions over the next several weeks, I hope you'll take a moment to buy one of these posters that cost so little but provide so much. Plus, they're pretty cool to hang on your wall!

by Andre Jackson on September 21st, 2015

Last night, I rushed home from my Sunday evening Lion King performance just in time to catch Viola Davis delivering an Emmy acceptance speech that had me shouting at my television screen. I was NOT prepared. I fully tuned in expecting to see the same 'ol White actors passing golden statues to a long line of almost all other White actors. It's what most minority actors have frustratingly come to expect. Strangely, I've found, it's something that many of my White counterparts don't even notice! That, I believe, is the true sign of the uniformity of the practice. Only those of us who are excluded even notice the lack of inclusion. Even if last night's Emmys don't inspire a single writer, director, producer, casting director or studio to consider the enormous wealth of talent and bankable power of minority actors, my spirit was strengthened with the sense of unity I share with those of us who are battling daily to contend in a system that passively ignores our existence.


by Andre Jackson on June 7th, 2015

​In hindsight, I should have been able to predict that this week would be...special. By now, everyone knows that my Broadway cast of The Lion King and the cast of Aladdin were delayed for over five hours at LaGuardia airport due to weather.  James Monroe Inglehart ('Aladdin"s Genie) and I led each of our casts in a fun battle of songs (including a crazy-impressive freestyle rap from the Genie himself) that every major media outlet has since dubbed an "Epic Disney Sing-Off". Footage from the impromptu performance leaked online and went viral within the first hour. Currently, the video is averaging about  a million views per day on YouTube with an endless number of search results on Google. I've been interviewed a dozen times over the last few days and gave up trying to keep up with phone calls and texts within the first few hours.

These viral videos aren't exactly a new phenomenon for The Lion King though this is the first time I've been involved at all - better yet, center stage. In truth, I've purposely avoided those previous public performances on planes and subways. Why not this time? I guess because it was truly spontaneous. It wasn't planned or performed with any intention other than having fun! The possibility that I'd be trending on Twitter certainly never entered my mind. We were all simply doing what makes US feel good: performing.
 
This takes me to the lesson I learned from this unique experience. It occured to me that acting has always been a selfish endeavor for me. I love exploring the heights and depths of human emotions and experiences. For me, my life is fullest when I'm feeling. It's an addiction with an endless fix stemming from inside my own body. I purposely pursue feelings I assume most people spend their lives trying to avoid. I constantly train and condition myself to expose what most probably want to conceal. Acting satisfies my own desires. However, after reading hundreds of messages about this week's video, it's clearer to me now more than ever that what I've always seen as a purely selfish act actually gives so much to others. Strangely, I never expected that those watching my performances would also yearn to feel and experience life in its extremes just as I do. Person after person shared how watching us sing in that airport made their day, brought them to tears, gave them chills, motivated them to follow their dreams or even restored their faith in humanity! Instead of feeling set apart from those who haven't decided to live their lives as artists, I now understand that everyone shares a common human desire for expression and emotional inspiration.
​ 
I expected a few "Likes" or possibly a few more subscribers to my website. After nearly 14 years as a professional actor, I didn't think going viral would make me re-examine what it means to be an artist. I never expected that.


by Andre Jackson on September 26th, 2014

With a worldwide gross of over $6.2 billion, "The Lion King" stage musical has now achieved the most successful box office total of any work in any media in entertainment history.

NEW YORK (AP) - The show quietly took over top spot from the $6 billion-earning "The Phantom of the Opera" late this summer, according to representatives from both shows. "Phantom" producers Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group congratulated "The Lion King" in a statement, calling their rival show "The Pride of Broadway."

The total makes "The Lion King" more valuable than any single Harry Potter film, the blockbuster "Titanic," or any of the "Star Wars" movies. By way of comparison, the highest-grossing film in history is "Avatar," with nearly $2.8 billion worldwide.

"It's difficult not to become emotional at this realization of the show's impact," said Thomas Schumacher, president and producer at Disney Theatrical Productions. He recalled the long road the musical has taken from its beginning in four downtown rehearsal rooms in May 1997.

"Our goal then was to tell the story purely and theatrically so that audiences could feel it in their heart," he added. "And, to this day, that is the audience experience whether they see the show in Madrid; Appleton, Wisconsin; South Africa; Tokyo or Broadway. Of that, we are deeply proud."

The figure only calculates box office receipts from the various worldwide stage productions, not sales of posters or CDs and other merchandise, revenue from the film, which grossed $423 million domestically, including its rereleased in 3D, or syndication and licensing fees. Currently, there are 10 productions of "The Lion King," including those in New York, London, in Hamburg, Germany, and on tour across North America.

There's no need to cry for "The Phantom of the Opera." It's still the longest-running show in Broadway history and 140 million worldwide have seen it. There are currently eight productions with new ones planned for Moscow, Hong Kong and Istanbul.

"The Lion King," which features music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice and the vision of director Julie Taymor, was an adaption of an animated film when it hit the stage but has in many ways overshadowed the film. It tells the story of a young lion cub's coming of age and uses puppetry and dance in ways that haven't been replicated.

It was the highest grossing Broadway show last year and is the highest-grossing production so far this year, despite rival shows in five bigger theaters and musicals like "The Book of Mormon" often charging hundreds of dollars more per ticket.

Part of its longevity is due to its movie tie-in, simple-to-understand story, family friendly themes and the fact that it's a spectacle not dependent on big-name stars. Twenty-two global productions have been seen by more than 75 million people.

"The Lion King" chased down the overall box office crown despite "Phantom" having a big head start: Disney's show began on Broadway in 1997, while "Phantom" debuted onstage in 1986 in London.

"It's the distance runner, it's the marathon runner. It's taken 17 years of legitimacy to get there," said David Schrader, executive vice president and managing director at Disney Theatrical Group.

What makes the achievement all the more remarkable is that Disney executives haven't gouged every last cent from the public. In fact, they've purposely left money on the table.

Last week, for example, the average ticket price at "The Lion King" was $128, while "The Book of Mormon" was $50 more. And while top premium tickets for "The Book of Mormon" was $477 and $300 for "Wicked," the highest price at "The Lion King" was $197.50, illustrating a conscious attempt to keep even the best seats in the house under $200.

"We're never going to be the top price. We're never going to have the highest VIP price. We're never going to have the highest orchestra price," said Schrader "We're not in this for tomorrow afternoon. We're in it for however many years we've got. We're trying to be moderate."

The other half of the equation — attendance — is also strong. It has increased four of the last five years on Broadway, the London production has seen a 6 percent increase in attendance over the last five years, and the latest North American tour has seen an 11 percent increase over the same period.

Both "Phantom" and "The Lion King" have benefited from the emergence of premium — or dynamic — pricing, although the Disney musical has obviously enjoyed more seasons using the tactic. It involves increasing or decreasing prices for certain seats depending on demand and started with the 2001 musical "The Producers," which set a precedent with $480 tickets.

At the mother ship in New York, Schrader said the Broadway audience is made up of four key groups in roughly equal proportions: Manhattan residents, commuters from the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, domestic tourists and foreign tourists. "There's no way you get to 17 years without somehow holding all four," he said.

Clever advertising — like using digital screens to show crisp images of brightly costumed characters at Pennsylvania Station and the city's airports — and a scrupulous attempt to maintain its high quality onstage mean "The Lion King" hasn't devolved in to a kids' show or a joke.

It still attracts a well-heeled crowd, routinely breaks $1 million a week at the 1,700-seat Minskoff Theatre and Disney has been loath to ever discount its tickets.

"If anything, the lack of change is what's remarkable," Schrader said. "Everything erodes, everything comes apart. So the fact that it hasn't is curious."

Schrader spends much of his days poring over audience data, figuring out demand patterns based on historical trends, school holidays and even weather forecasts.

He knows that 6 percent of a Broadway audience is from the Philadelphia metro area. He knows that daylight savings time will "inevitably" mess up schedules. He'll add a ninth performance during a holiday week but balances that with a need to not overtax the cast.

"I love puzzles," he says with a smile.

But of "The Lion King's remarkable longevity and continued potency, Schrader is modest about how much effect he has. "I wish we could take credit, but it's the audience and it's the word-of-mouth that's driving it."


by Andre Jackson on April 19th, 2014

Every time I pay my DirecTV bill, I think about the hundreds of stations I have never and will never watch but still have to pay for. No offense Chinese Aerobics Network, but you're on my "Why is this on my channel guide?" list.

The exciting thing is that the reign of traditional programming is nearing its end. Online streaming and original programming are changing the game and audiences are responding with a loud "YES" to the quality of shows online providers like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Amazon are bringing to the table.

If you still haven't discovered the ABSOLUTE BEAUTY of watching original online programming, I'm going to help you out...
  1. If you're into dramas go to Netflix and watch House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. I dare you to try to only watch one episode. Don't worry if you don't have a subscription. You can get a one-month free trial.
  2. Go to YouTube and watch the action series BLACK (shameless plug for my show), the Sci-Fi hit H+ and for comedy you gotta watch Wigs. And, of course, YouTube is free!
  3. Watch Moone Boy on Hulu. It's been awarded Best Comedy over and over again and Chris O'Dowd is downright adorable in it.
  4. On Amazon Prime, check out Alpha House and Defiance. They don't offer a free trial but it's actually a little cheaper than Netflix or Hulu.

by Andre Jackson on March 6th, 2014

When I first moved to Los Angeles to become a "big-time actor", I lived in Hollywood steps away from the home of the Academy Awards - the Dolby Theatre. The city shut down the surrounding blocks for Hollywood's Biggest Night and I could hear the sound of screaming fans from my tiny apartment balcony. Just knowing that I was in such close proximity to the grandest celebration of movie magic in the world, was a thrill.
This year, past security, beyond the hundreds of screaming fans, through the reception tent with a sign reading "Welcome to the Academy Awards", and after passing through the metal detectors, I found myself stepping foot onto THE Red Carpet of the 86th Academy Awards. Longer than I'd imagined and split into two lanes (one for the stars and the other for folks like me), it seemed to stretch on for miles. Even from my non-celebrity viewpoint, the spectacle of the Oscars was even more than I'd ever imagined. At the end of the carpet, the two lanes merged and I found myself at the base of a towering staircase leading into the theater. There, amongst Hollywood's elite, I took a moment to be grateful for my place in this life.

My experiences come at a price that many are unwilling or unable to pay and I am truly grateful for the opportunity  and ability to do so. I am always mindful of that. God willing, more beautiful moments lie ahead hidden beneath the dense fog of adversity and sacrifice. I look forward to tomorrow. Today and every day, I give thanks.

Faith. Hope. Love.

Andre

by Andre Jackson on September 21st, 2013

In 2011, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that they would be hiking up their prices and splitting the company into two separate divisions - one for streaming only and the other for old fashioned mailed DVDs. As result, the company lost 800,000 subscribers and it's stock dropped 30% in a matter of weeks.  Many predicted that, for Netflix, it was the end.  Here we are in 2013, now fully aware that it was only the beginning.

After backpedaling on the idea to split the company and drastically change prices, Netflix has rebounded in a huge way by offering some of the most dynamic and groundbreaking programming available today.  House of Cards, the Netflix Original Series, is nominated for multiple Emmys this year. Then, there's the new hit series Orange Is The New Black and the revival of the hilarious critic and fan favorite Arrested Development all only available on - that's right - Netflix.

The latest (and hands down my favorite) addition to Netflix's collection of original programming is Derek.  Ricky Gervais, the brilliant and frequently controversial comedian and creator behind shows like The Office and Extras, is at the top of his game in this show. Coincidentally, a few days before starting my 7 episode Derek binge, I posted a link on my Facebook page where Gervais talks about how he learned to write. Check it out HERE.) I could go on and on about the groundbreaking genius of both Netflix and Gervais and how the pairing of the two have created a show that is equally hilarious, heartbreaking and uplifting but it'd be better if you'd just see for yourself. Look, I'll make it easy for you...CLICK HERE.

by Andre Jackson on September 19th, 2013

Hey, guys. Here's the first episode of BLACK, Season 1.   Thanks to all our fans for your amazing support of this series.  You guys are some intense, hard-charging action junkies - my kind of people!  I can guarantee you there is much much more to come. BLACK - out.

by Andre Jackson on February 19th, 2013

This is the official teaser trailer for the new fast-paced, high-action series I'm starring in called BLACK.  I can't even tell you how excited I am about this show and when you see this teaser you'll understand why!  We're scheduled to premiere this summer so look for more trailers to be released over the coming months.  I'll be keeping all of my blog subscribers up-to-date with various show announcements and video releases. (Subscribe HERE).  Non-subscribers can check out the video trailers via the show's YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/BLACKthewebseries.

Meanwhile, enjoy the trailer and yes,...I AM THE SNIPER  ;).  BLACK out.

by Andre Jackson on February 14th, 2013

This month, the Memphis Flyer is featuring me as one of the Hottest People of 2013!  I was completely taken by surprise when I got the phone call requesting an interview and photo shoot to include me in their annual Valentine’s Day “Hotties” issue.  The publication staff was so cool to work with that it wasn't until after it was over that I realized I should have tried to come up with somewhat hotter answers to my interview questions.  Then again, what could be hotter than talking about my customary Valentine’s Day dinner for two at Chili’s?

The best part about this Hot List is that it actually supports a good cause – other than being pure eye candy :)  Readers can cast votes online for their favorite Hottie. Votes are only $5 and all proceeds go to support the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Organization!  To vote, click HERE.  Happy Valentine's Day!

by Andre Jackson on September 18th, 2012

Here's the trailer for the new series I'm starring in called Black.  I can't  wait until y'all see it.  Just go ahead and set your mind to "BLOWN"!

by Andre Jackson on September 3rd, 2012

Before making the decision to forego medical school to try my hand at professional acting, I came out to LA with a buddy of mine from Kansas, Brian, to test the waters.  I took a tour of the acting conservatory where I'd already been accepted as a freshman student and jaunted around town to get a feel for what life as an Los Angelian would be like. We walked the streets of Hollywood, drank and flirted with the local "talent" at a few LA nightclubs, and I went on several job interviews that I'd lined up.  After a week in the City of Angels, I was still on the fence.

With time to make a decision quickly running out and the life of an actor now clearly less secure than the stability and predictable option I'd pursued since high school to become a doctor, I took a brief break from the inner debate to enjoy what would possibly be my last dinner in Los Angeles.
We drove around for at least an hour trying to make our minds up about where we were gonna eat.  Since we knew we'd be leaving on an early flight the next morning, we wanted to make sure that the last LA meal was something quintessentially Californian.  After a heated debate and a winning coin toss, I found myself pulling into California Pizza Kitchen (at the time, I was unaware that this was a national chain barely classifiable as "inspired" by California cuisine).

Brian, still sore after losing the coin toss, decided to stay in the car while I went in to grab the food.  I walked in and was directed to the carry-out waiting area to wait on my order.  As I took my seat in the tiny carry-out section, I was stunned by the massive figure seated directly across from me.  I immediately recognized his imposing frame.  It was Michael Clarke Duncan. 

The Green Mile had only been released about two years earlier and had become one of my favorite films.  I introduced myself to Mr. Duncan and soon we easily found ourselves engrossed in conversation.  He was and remained until his untimely death today, one of the most genuinely kindhearted people I have ever met.  We talked about each of our pasts, families, dreams, and goals for the future.  Long after we'd both been given and paid for our faux Cali-style pizzas, we were still laughing and experiencing the lighthearted conversation like that had by trusted friends.

For some unexplicable reason, I told Mr. Duncan of my recent dilemma.  I told him about my fears for the future and my love for the art.  He gave me advice that profoundly effected my decision and is greatly responsible for the life I'd enjoyed since.  He shared with me that he too had almost decided to quit acting.  He said he once worked as a bodyguard for years while pursuing acting work. After years of only being able to land small bit parts here and there, he'd finally become discouraged enough to purchase a one-way ticket to depart Los Angeles in one month.  The day his flight was scheduled to leave, he sat in his friend's apartment - bags packed - and decided not to give up.  Less than a year later, he began filming The Green Mile.  He delivered a critcally acclaimed, award winning performance for his portrayal of John Coffey.  Mr. Duncan advised me to search my heart for the answers, trust in God, believe in myself, and regardless of what I chose I should never be afraid of life.  He wished me luck and we departed.  I returned to the car with cold pizza, a furious Brian in the passenger seat, and the decision to become an actor.

I never saw Mr. Duncan again after that day - at least not in person.  He went on to star in many more films and lived the life he always knew he wanted to live.  I've continued on my own journey as a successful actor.  I've lived my dream despite the occasional nightmare.  No matter what has or will happen, I will not quit.  I will not be afraid.

Michael Clarke Duncan died this morning, Labor Day, due to complications from a massive heart attack that he suffered on July 13th.  His death is a personal loss.  I will always remember the gentle kindness of his spirit and I'll be grateful for having met him that summer evening in Los Angeles. 

I watched The Green Mile twice today.  There's a scene at the end of the film that now touches me greater than ever.  Just before John Coffey walks "the mile" to Old Sparky, he has a conversation with the head gaurd, Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks).  Gaurd Edgecomb is suffering because despite knowing John to be innocent, he must send him to the electric chair.  He asks John how is he to explain to God that he killed one of his most beautiful creations.  John Coffey comforts him, saying...

"You tell God the Father it was a kindness you done. I know you hurtin' and worryin', I can feel it on you, but you oughta quit on it now. Because I want it over and done. I do."

Rest in peace, Mr. Duncan. May God bless your soul now and forever. Thank you.

by Andre Jackson on June 20th, 2012

I'll be starring in a new national commercial for Toyota airing this summer.  I'm gonna be parachuting down (using those Marine Corps skills) and jumping into the new 2013 RAV-4.  Sounds like its gonna be a fun shoot and as the owner of a Toyota, I can honestly promote their cars with a clean conscience :)  Let me know when you see it in your area!

by Andre Jackson on April 19th, 2012

YES!! Filming this summer. Stay tuned.....

by Andre Jackson on April 18th, 2012

I filmed a commercial last Saturday for PBS.  It was really more of a public service announcement.  It promotes the idea that it's never too late to pursue higher education.  Look for it this summer.  It'll be running or a year!

On a personal note, I was really excited about my role in this commercial. I watch people promote all sorts of crap on television these days and I always wonder, "Does that actor really use that product or is he/she just trying to sell it to me in exchange for a paycheck?  Does Dennis Haysbert really have Allstate Insurance?  Does Queen Latifah really use Jenny Craig? Does Kim Kardashian even own a single pair of Skechers?"

I can unequivocally state that I am a huge fan of PBS .  I've been watching it since I can remember watching television. Sesame Street, 321 Contact, and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood are my first memories of television.  By the time I started kindergarden, I could read, write, and count thanks, largely, to PBS.  I would have done this commercial for free (don't tell that to my agent).