Going Viral: What I didn't expect
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.
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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.



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6 Comments

Aunt Angelia - June 9th, 2015 at 1:32 AM
Andre. I remember when Mike and I pulled you card off the board in
Hollywood where your venture began. You were the only one from Kansas (Wichita) and we said "yes, it is a homey". The time you came to meet Mikey and I was the beginning of a friendship (kinship) that has not faded or diminished over time. I became Aunt Angelia to you from that day forward. I have always watched from a distance with proud, misjudging, caring eyes, your growth and success. I Love you Andre and wish only the best for you and your future success which is truly on the rise. Love and hugs...Aunt Angelia
Andre - June 17th, 2015 at 9:34 AM
Yes, Auntie! You've been on this crazy ride with me from the very start. Happy to have Mike as my brother for life!! Love you. More to come :)
Carleton - June 9th, 2015 at 2:40 PM
Well stated, sir!
Andre - June 17th, 2015 at 9:31 AM
Thanks, Carleton!
Kyle - June 16th, 2015 at 11:36 PM
Never even had an afterthought of going to a Broadway musical of any kind until I saw this video, this was amazing! Keep up the good work! Also, what was the name of the sister singing that solo in that "One by One" performance? Is the show version of the song like that? Every version I can find online and listen to, her part isn't as pronounced as it is in this performance.
Andre - June 17th, 2015 at 9:31 AM
Hi Kyle! Yes, that's the show version of "One By One". The female soloist is our beautiful Sindisiwe Nxumalo. She's a native of Durban, South Africa and an incredible talent.
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