A Special Interview With...
For this gentleman to get an interview spot on my website can only mean there’s something truly special about this guy. Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce JALEN COLEMAN, an upcoming award winning film maker whose passion can be heavily seen in his work.
One of the things I like about Jalen is he’s able to capture the attention of viewers who perhaps normally wouldn’t view his style or like to read or hear about the sensitive topics he tackles, but find themselves immersed in his profound presentation. So let’s get this interview started so others can learn about this young man who is making quite a name for himself on red carpets across America.
SHELLEY: Jalen! Wow, Dude! Really? (laughing hysterically) You first came to my attention when someone actually in-boxed me on Facebook with a short comment: You have to see this guy. I saw who sent the message and knew it was worth checking out. And I am soooo glad I did. You got it, Man! Your talent for film making is extraordinary. For Indie Writers you might want to contact Jalen to create book trailers. I have been in the book industry many years. I’ve met and had lunch with some of the power houses in the industry. I’ve rubbed elbows with people who wanted success and those who have achieved New York Times Best Selling success. You’re also a writer, but you’re more than that. Let’s start off with you telling us what motivates you to get up each day and make things really happen because making things happen I can see you’re all about?
JALEN: Well first off thank you for those kind words (slightly laughs) but I just really love film and storytelling. I was born to entertain the world and change it through film so that’s what I wake up thinking. God gave me purpose and I try to keep that in mind and not waste my gift.
SHELLEY: Your short movies have been played at notorious film festivals. Your red carpet experience is outrageous in that you’ve done enough to get the recognition you needed. Tell us what is it like having the kind of success you have so far?
JALEN: Actually I try not to think about it to tell you the truth. That might sound crazy but I try not to focus or dwell on the fact that I’ve done this or been to that red carpet. I don’t ever want to get to a position where I feel comfortable and that I have already succeeded so I keep going, BUT I am aware that not must people my age get to do some of the stuff I have done so I feel really blessed to do that.
SHELLEY: I like that you don’t only look out for yourself, but you also help other poets and film makers. Tell us about the poetry group you belong to and any upcoming events you may have.
JALEN: I belong to a group called Tuff Crowd. We’re actually an entertainment group and not just poets. It’s about 30 of us, I know that’s a lot, but we are one big family. The love I have for these people is deep and I’ve never had friends or even some family care about me the way these people do. All of the talent in the group amazes me because we LITERALLY have everything from singing, acting, fashion designer, dancing and poetry. They have had a big impact on my life. Currently we are working on our Halloween sketch comedy show that will be titled “Top 5 Dead Or Alive”
SHELLEY: I like passion. I like movies and books that make me smile, cry, get angry or laugh my butt off. The video you shot, BlacKKK Lottery, is more than powerful. I think it’s a video that should be listened to with your eyes closed to truly take in the message, as well as watch and listen to pull all of the emotion home. Tell us a little bit about this short video.
JALEN: Thank you, I was home one day and the founder of Tuff Crowd (Halla) called me and told me we are going to shoot a video and told me to wear all black so I was a bit confused. Once we met up he explained that we were going to get the poets from our crew and a few others we know and shoot this poetry video about the recent killings. It’s something that was weighing heavy on our minds so we expressed ourselves through our art. I did a poem in the video also. Poetry is something I wasn’t doing until I joined the group. The good thing about Tuff Crowd is it will bring you out of your shell and make you want to try other things. So all the responses we have been receiving from the video has been overwhelming and great.
SHELLEY: You have attended many red carpets events. Tell us about a few of the events you attended.
JALEN: I attended The Oscars this year. It was my first time wearing I tux (I looked really good in the tux by the way) and you know the Oscars is like the superbowl to me so it was a big deal for me. It didn’t even feel real until I got on the carpet. I almost cried when I got on the red carpet because it was just a special moment in my life. It was a reminder that my hard work is leading somewhere and to not give up cause it does get hard sometime.
SHELLEY: When it comes to film, who is your motivation or role model? Who do you credit as your inspiration?
JALEN: A ton of people inspire me, not just filmmakers. Spike Lee is a for sure one because of the doors he opened for black filmmakers. Scorsese is another because he really loves film and you can feel through his films they have a life of their own. As of lately I am really inspired by Ryan Coogler who did Fruitvale Station and Creed, because I loved those film and when I saw him in an interview he is young and black and talks like me. There isn’t an interview I’ve seen of him trying to sound a certain type of way or sound like a publicist is coaching him. He sounds like he comes from a similar area I was raised in and that’s really inspiring.
SHELLEY: You and Tuff Crowd have actually spoken with a small publisher to get your group’s first anthology book out. What do you wish to accomplish with the book? What audience are you hoping to capture?
JALEN: Yes, we did, and we are pretty stoked about that. A book is a big deal so for us to have one is such a dope thing. We just want our voices heard and our stories told. If something we write can help someone else who is going through something, even if it’s just one person we will feel accomplished. We are really all about helping people and spreading good vibes.
SHELLEY: No interview will be complete if I don’t get all up in an interviewee’s personal life. Do you have a special someone at the moment? If you do, does that someone inspire any of your work?
JALEN: (smiles) I do… it’s a bit of a complicated situation but she is someone I love, my first love actually. I never had someone believe in me the way she does and she pushes me to be better. She was actually more excited about me going to the Oscars than I was (laughs) because that week I kept forgetting it was happening (I know that’s terrible), but she reminded me daily and called me that morning to wake me up on time to be there, so yeah. She’s one of the most beautiful people I know both inside and out. Really a blessing in my life.
SHELLEY: Before we close this out, I think it’s good for the readers to know who you are. Tell us where you were born, what kind of home you grew up in and what life experience in childhood prompted you to pursue a career as a film maker, actor, writer, etc.
JALEN: I was born in raised in South Central Los Angeles which is where I currently live as well. Grew up the first part of my life from birth ’til middle school living with my mom, grandma and brother, and moved in with my dad, auntie, grandma and cousins as soon as I started high school. Growing up I loved writing stories. I was in 2nd grade and my teacher whose name I will never forget, Ms. Anderson, gave us an assignment to go home and write a story, and for some reason I was super excited to write this story. I went home and wrote the best story a 2nd grader could write and she loved it. The moment that changed my life was her looking at me saying I should be a writer but there was this kid next to me who instantly said “you can’t be no writer,” and as a kid I believed him and that hurt me. I went home all defeated and my mom asked what’s wrong and I explained it to her and she looked me right in my eyes and said, “Jalen, you can be whatever you want to be. You can be the best writer in the world if you want to,” and I listened to her. From there I would just write short stories until in 8th grade I decided to go into screenwriting. I loved movies and never thought that people actually make movies (laughs); it’s just something that never came to mind for some reason. So high school started and I made a bunch of short films that got were entered into competitions.
SHELLEY: If you had one thing that you wanted to offer your viewers in each of your films, what would that one thing be?
JALEN: Entertainment, as well as to think. I want all of my films to have a positive message. Even if I end up making a movie about a bank robbery, at the heart of the film it could be about brotherhood. You get me? My favorite movies all have a deeper meaning than what’s on the surface. Star Wars is ultimately about family. So I want my work to mean something.
SHELLEY: So what does your schedule look like now? What new events, films or work do you have coming up that we should all be aware of and look out for?
JALEN: I’m currently shooting my new short film that is stressing me out (awkwardly laughs), but I’m keeping my head up. We at Tuff Crowd are working on our Halloween Show scheduled in October. We rehearse for that every day, so that takes up most of my time. Not much time for a social life, unless it’s with Tuff Crowd, who is all I hang out with for the most part.
SHELLEY: You and I actually spoke by phone and have communicated often. I know my family is going to read this and get on me for speaking to you and not to them. (laughs). Anyhow, there are so many things to like about you. Please tell us what your optimal goal is for the future.
JALEN: Thank you, you keep saying nice things making me feel special (laughs). My goal for the future is to reach a bigger audience. And happiness. I’m starting to realize the older I get how important happiness is.
SHELLEY: It was good speaking to Jalen, and I want to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule for this interview. Are there any last words you will like to leave for the readers? Any words of encouragement?
JALEN: It was an honor to be interviewed by you and I deeply appreciate this. For anyone reading I would just say never give up because I know life gets rough but man it’s so beautiful when you just take a step back and look.
SHELLEY: For those of you reading, you can check out the links below. And remember when you see Jalen Coleman’s name in the future you can say Shelley is right. This guy is awesome.