In the microwave era of quick fixes and reality tv, too many are neglecting the importance of practicing, learning, and mastering the art of acting. One individual, who has not neglected the art, is up-and-coming star, James T. Alfred. Due to his hard work and consistency, his name continues to resonate. Among many prominent stage performances and independent films, Alfred has appeared in Fox’s “Empire,” NBC’s “Chicago P.D.,” and the hit show “Boss,” on Starz. Alfred has also written and performed, “A Brown Tale,” a comedic production dissecting his childhood to adult life. Recently, we interviewed the talented actor, and below is the entire transcript.
1up Atlanta Examiner: As a performance artist, what is your proudest achievement thus far?
James T. Alfred: Being able to manifest an idea has the highest level of value to me. Bringing a thought to reality is empowering. As an artist, self-empowerment is important. Creating, versus waiting for opportunity, has been the cornerstone to staying employed.
1up Atlanta Examiner: Which of your prior characters do people notice you for the most?
James T. Alfred: It depends. Theatre goers who have seen “A Brown Tale” and some of my other work, constantly talk about “A Brown Tale.” Television viewers mostly remember my appearance in “Boss.” It really depends on how much of my work people have seen. Some people gave followed my career closely and remember my work with Lou Bellamy, and our work in the August Wilson plays.
1up Atlanta Examiner: As you pursued acting as a profession, what were some of the major lessons gained?
James T. Alfred: Confidence and ingenuity. It’s important that I believe in myself when no one else does, and marry that belief to action. As I mentioned before, when nothing is happening, I make something happen. I make my own work when no one is hiring.
1up Atlanta Examiner: What was the motivation behind the production of “A Brown Tale” and how has it been accepted thus far?
James T. Alfred: A Brown Tale was encouraged by a friend twenty years ago. After becoming a more learned and experienced as a theatre artist, I revisited the work, and it was eventually developed into a legitimate piece of theatre. The work has been received well by audiences across the country. The material lands. It resonates with people from all walks of life. A Brown Tale sits in a culturally specific narrative, but is absolutely universal. The show illuminates the truth that we experience, the same things in life, but in different ways.
1up Atlanta Examiner: In a recent lecture, you caught the attention of your audience when you defined the difference between a job and a gig. Please elaborate on that lecture for the reader’s.
James T. Alfred: Well, a job is something that provides your lively hood. A job demands your time and energy. Jobs are not easily obtained and gig is something you do to make up the difference between your job and financial goals. A gig is expendable and can be easily obtained. It’s pretty much a means to an end, and not usually a career choice.
1up Atlanta Examiner: Morally, are there any acting roles you would never accept? If so, what are those roles, and why would you not accept them?
James T. Alfred: I don’t approach my work with judgement. I think there is humanity in everybody, and therefore (if well written,) every character. My sole objective is to examine and illuminate the human experience in full dimension. There is a side of beauty, but there’s an ugly side as well. I focus on finding the universal in the specific, exploring universal themes, emotions, and so on. I’m able to look through the prism, the paradigm, and fully gaze the African-American male.
1up Atlanta Examiner: Which do you enjoy more, stage acting or screen acting?
James T. Alfred: I enjoy the stage because it’s immediate. I enjoy the corporate experience and conversation unfolding in real time.
1up Atlanta Examiner: When preparing to take on the role of a character, what is the typical process like for you?
James T. Alfred: I start with the text. That informs all. I believe everything choice I make should be supported by the text.
1up Atlanta Examiner: What is your perspective regarding film industries throughout Africa, particularly, Nollywood, out of Nigeria?
James T. Alfred: I think it’s great! I talk about that a lot with colleagues. Nollywood provides a great example for African Americans. In Nigeria, they put out so much work, and it’s not impeded by lack of resources. They take what they have and make what they can, focusing on the story, the work, and not the glitz and glamour.
1up Atlanta Examiner: What’s next for James Alfred, and where do you see yourself ten years from now?
James T. Alfred: I’m writing. I’m turning my play, “A Brown Tale” into a television show, a movie, a concert film, and a book. I have a musical that I am working on that is based on a biblical story. That’s all I’ll say for now on that. In ten years I hope to be in a position to create more work independent of the machines. I want to get back to doing the work, and focusing only on that.
More Information about James T. Alfred
Official website at www.jamestalfred.com