NYCDA Alum Ser’Darius Blain stars in 2017 blockbuster, Jumanji
Ser’Darius updates us on his experiences, his training, and his feelings about the business.
NYCDA: What would you say was the tipping point in your career?
Blain: I would have to say it was my first job, which was Footloose. It was my first movie. It was also my first movie audition. I call it a tipping point t because this is a weird business where no one trusts you until someone else takes a chance on you but no one will take a chance on you until someone else trusts you. That opportunity led to so many other opportunities because someone trusted me enough to be a part of such a big studio movie at the time.
NYCDA: Can you name an unexpected aspect of your training?
Blain: We had a movement class with Connie Rotunda years ago. When I was in that class, I didn’t see the purpose of it because we were walking around and pretending that we were wrapped in burlap cloth and touching walls and imagining they were other things. I was thinking, “What is the point of this?” (back when I was in my cool mode) and didn’t realize how important it was to be grounded. I didn’t realize how important it was to sink into the floor and learn how to create new atmospheres until I had to run around on an imaginary planet blasting Klingons (Star Trek Into Darkness) or pretend that I’m in a war in somebody’s office reading to them. Those things came to life and then I thought… “Oh, ok. That’s what that was for.” The repetition exercises in Meisner. I didn’t understand the point of repeating what you just said to me until I started really learning how to listen. Then, I understood, those inflections, body, and eye movements mean something in the grand scheme of being a storyteller.
NYCDA: What do you like most about the industry? What do you dislike most about the industry?
Blain: What I dislike most is that talent doesn’t always supersede all in this business. In my immediate circle of friends, I can say I’m not the most talented actor for a fact, but there are certain factors that have allowed me to work more. I see some people behind the scenes work so hard on their craft and being ready for the moment and they don’t get the same opportunity. Sometimes it is “who you know,” looks, or height. I think the best person for the job is the person most talented and who can tell the story the best. I like that I get an opportunity to entertain millions of people at one time. At the end of the day I do this whole acting thing, and this writing thing, because I want to take people away from their problems for an hour or two. I want to bring people together and sometimes force them to address their problems and come up with solutions. To make them laugh, cry, or think. It’s an instant way to become immortalized and be able to continue telling stories till the end of time.
NYCDA: How was your experience filming Jumanji?
Blain: Jumanji was one of the best projects I’ve ever done. I got an opportunity to work with the likes of two of the biggest movie stars on the planet: The Rock and Kevin Hart. Obviously, it’s going to be instant magic with Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas. And we’ve got some awesome newcomers in Madison Iseman, Alex Wolff and Morgan Turner. It’s going to be incredible in the grand scheme of things, in terms of bringing back that old 90’s feeling that we used to get when we would watch movies the whole family could enjoy, and it actually meant something for each of us. I think we made an instant classic. I’ve had a chance to collaborate with some incredible professionals, incredible artists at the end of the day. Really excited to let everyone see it this coming Christmas and I think people are going to enjoy it. It was really fun to make believe and make a lot of jokes in this made up world of Jumanji. I think Jake Kasdan (director) has got a hit on his hands.
NYCDA: What advice did you receive that you wish you hadn’t ignored?
Blain: I don’t ignore any advice. I take all the advice I can possibly get. I implemented the advice I got from my instructors at NYCDA on a daily basis. I don’t ignore any advice at all because I wasn’t the most talented in my time at NYCDA. I take the advice of those who have seen success before me so that I can give myself more longevity.