Memphis native Jaquiez Douglas has been acting for over 10 years. This year, the former Hamilton High School graduate (1997) and football player became SAG (Screen Actors Guild) eligible. Douglas’ improvisational verbal delivery helps him bring out the best – and often the worst – in audiences. He mentally digests his scripts and that preparation, along with standing 6’6” tall and weighing 506 pounds, aids him in filling up a scene on multiple levels.
Kelvin Cowans: What got you into acting?
Jaquiez Douglas: My best friend and I decided to write a book. It was one of those “out of the trunk” selling type situations and people really liked it. So we were like, let’s turn it into a movie and write a script. We did that and we then asked ourselves who could we get to act in the movie. No one was really volunteering, so we looked at each other and said let’s act in it ourselves.
Meanwhile, while we began to sort out how to bring together our vision for this project, we ran into a lady who does stage plays. One thing led to another and I began acting on stage. That’s how it began.
KC: What’s the feeling you get when you’re acting? What’s flowing within you when a crowd of people is watching you?
JD: You know, I like playing antagonist, the bad guy. For me, the bigger, the badder, the better. I feel like when you play the bad guy there are no limits. You get to free yourself. Most directors give you your script and it’s like an improvisation: What would you do in this situation or that situation?
So before the scene starts I tell the actor that I’m working with that I may get a little rough, just roll with it. When they get on the same page as me it’s awesome. When they see how lowdown I can be on stage, that’s when the crowd gets into it and they’re yelling, “Yeah, kill’em”… and that energy is received well because I know then I’m doing a good job acting. I remain professional, in character, but inside I got a big smile.
KC: Stage and film, you’ve done both. What are the differences in the two and which do you like better?
JD: I like on-camera acting better because stage is repetitive and you have to keep doing the same scene over and over again. On camera, you get it right and it’s recorded that you got it right and that’s it.
KC: Any drawbacks to always playing the bad guy?
JD: Yes! After some shows you get to mingle with the audience and they’ll tell you that you made them hate you for being so mean. But you also have others that are happy you were mean. I don’t want to get typecast but I do love playing that character.
I remember my aunt telling me that she remembered watching Danny Glover in the movie “The Color Purple” and that she hated him because he was so mean and lowdown. So much so that she never watched him in another movie, ever. I don’t think I want to be that good. But then again, I don’t know because he did a good job.
KC: What advice do you have for people trying to break into the acting world? What do they need, not want, but need to follow their dreams?
JD: The best thing about your dreams is that you don’t need anyone’s support or approval. If you want to get into acting, then you’re going to need three things. Number one: you need a goal. Number two: you need a plan on how to get to that goal. Number three: you need determination to be able to see that plan through. Also, always remember that if you come across an agent that wants money, go the other way. Agents get paid when you get paid.
(Kelvin Cowans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)