AAPEX Interview: Nathan James — AAPEX Interview , Nathan James , National Black Theatre , Once Upon A Time In Harlem: A Jitterbug Romance , Petronia Paley , Spiral Theatre — AAPEX

Saturday, January 19, 2013

AAPEX Interview: Nathan James

Nathan James

Nathan came to AAPEX's attention when he brought to life the lead role in DC Copeland's "Jitterbug!" (then called "Once Upon A Time In Harlem: A Jitterbug Romance") which was directed by Petronia Paley last March at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. "Nathan's the kind of actor playwrights dream of," Copeland said. "He took Billy Rhythm off the page where he had resided for so long and made him into a living, breathing, passionate and fearless man. If Billy had been embedded in clay, this would have been in Genesis, James is God, and the world would be much more different than the one we see today."

What role did theatre and the arts play in your childhood and upbringing? 
Being from my neighborhood of Beltzhoover in Pittsburgh Pa, there are not many opportunities provided that enables youth to see past the allure of street life. Many of my childhood friends are dead or in jail as a result of gang activity and drug dealing/use. Theater and good parenting literally saved me from this harsh reality. When I was promoted to middle school from the 5th grade, I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to follow behind my brother and attend Rogers C.A.P.A middle school (which is now merged with CAPA high school in Pittsburgh). The problem was, my mother and I couldn't figure out a talent which I could enter the school with. My mother finally remembered how good she thought I was in our church Easter plays. She decided to bring me home a monologue from "You're a good man Charlie Brown" in order for me to audition for the acting program. I was accepted in and immediately fell in love with the craft of acting. At our 8th grade performance at the Fulton Theater in Pittsburgh, my comedic character brought the audience to their feet for a standing ovation. I immediately gave up my childhood dreams of wanting to be a scientist, and knew from that moment I wanted to be in this business for the rest of my life 

Tell us about your own evolution as an artist? 
I often found myself living in two completely different worlds as a kid. On one end, I grew up in the hood. On the other end, I was fortunate enough to have parents who scraped together what little money they had to involve me in acting classes and conservatories to keep me too busy to get into trouble. This gave me a unique opportunity to gain a social education by becoming an observer of the two different ways of life (especially since I had never been able to completely fit in to either environment because of my affiliation with the other). I wasn’t “Hood” enough to be completely “Hood” because of my interest in the arts, yet I was too much of a product of my upbringing to be completely accepted among the “Privileged” in my acting classes. The inability to fit completely in to both worlds transitioned from childhood resentment to a sociological advantage in my artistic endeavors. I'm able to see things from both ends of the spectrum when I take on roles, and in my writing 

How do you prepare for a role? 
I first read the entire script to gather all the given circumstances. Then I sit down and create a list of similarities/differences between myself and my character in order to compliment him and find his heroics in the world of the play. After all table work is finished, I put my self on foot and begin to establish some mannerisms and rhythm. 

What's on your agenda for 2013? 
I've recently been granted an August Wilson Center fellowship with the August Wilson Cultural Center, and I will be commissioned to create a new piece of work to be produced at the center. I'm cast in the Off-Broadway production "Easter" with the August Strindberg Repertory Theater at the Gene Frankel Theater (3/3 - 3/31). In march I will be performing in the reading of Michael Dinwiddie's play "The Carelessness of Love" at the Spiral Theatre Studio. Also, for Valentines day, I will be hosting a poetry performance/open mic with fellow poet Ayo "The NigerianNightmare" in SOHO. 

What are a couple of your dream roles? 
My dream roles are: "Citzen" from "Gem of the Ocean," "Othello", and Sgt. Waters in "A Soldier's Play". I would also love to portray "Tupac". 

Website link: http://www.officialnathanjames.com 
Blog: http://nathanjamespoet.blogspot.com 
Twitter: @ImNateJames 
Agent contact: Mary Anne Claro (215) 465-7788  http://clarotalent.net/


  1. Wonderfully insightful ... Touches the heart - I am sure CAPA has given you amazing strength and inspiration. It's a great school - I worked 3 jobs to send my daughter there- and it was truly worth it.
    In truth art has the power to transform our world

  2. Wonderfully insightful ... A pleasure to read.
    Kudos to your parents and CAPA! I worked three jobs to send my daughter there and it was well worth it! In truth the arts have the power to transform our world - to rid it of the senseless violence and allow us all to bask in the joy of creativity

  3. Wonderful interview son. I learned things about you I didn't know. Seems like I'll be traveling to NY in March. Love you! <3