Popular Guy: Jaden Michael
Oct 2, 2020
Jaden Michael is capturing the attention of Hollywood as an impressive young actor in a competitive space. At only 16 years old, he already has a list of notable credits. This, of course, includes a starring role in Wonderstruck for Amazon, which was directed by Todd Haynes. In the near future, Jaden Michael will also star in Lorne Michaels’ new feature film, “Vampires vs. The Bronx” as the lead role Miguel Martinez. As more opportunities arise, Jaden Michael impressively reminds viewers that the peak of his career has yet to arrive.
Born and raised in New York City, Jaden was surrounded by the entertainment industry and began pursuing his passion for acting at a young age. In fact, he began modeling at the age of just two years old and currently references the city as an “actor’s paradise.” His experience working on all different types of projects has made him a sought-out actor for people in the business to keep their eye on.
Due to its connection to his heritage and story, Jaden looks forward to sharing his role on “Vampires vs. The Bronx” as Miguel Martinez with viewers. He strives to connect with the roles that he takes on and aims to share meaningful messages through his work. This upcoming role portrays the emotional pain and hardships that come with gentrification. It continues the long list of credits that Jaden has acquired at an incredibly young age.
In an exclusive interview with PopularTV, Jaden Michael chats about acting, upcoming roles, and more.
1. You are currently starring in “Vampires V. The Bronx” as Miguel Martinez. What initially drew you to this project?
I had never worked on a project before with so much Spanish influence. When I realized Oz was a Dominican, like me, I became super excited. To be able to play an American with a passion and love for his heritage was really heartwarming and I was able to assimilate to it. Furthermore, the underlying idea of culture being sucked out of a community, through gentrification, really hit home as I saw my family’s community and even my own community change.
2. Do you remember your audition scene?
I do, I believe one of the audition scenes was the one where Miguel gets ready to chuck a rock at the door of the courthouse. Originally that scene was a bit longer, but I appreciate how Oz condensed some of the scenes!
3. Even in a movie about vampires you and the cast make the dialogue feel incredibly real. What is something you brought to this character?
I think one of the most important things is bringing yourself, or someone you are really close to. It is a lot easier to make an audience feel what you are feeling in a moment if YOU, the actor can actually feel that, pain, anguish, excitement, horror. So in that way, I always like feeding off myself or a close friend, a family member when building any character. As for Miguel in particular, I think he is perhaps the character that most resembles me. A lot of the pride and lack of self-awareness were drawn from other characters or made up, but almost all of the relationships you see on screen, between Miguel, Luis and Bobby, and Miguel and his mother, were just natural and organic.
4. Bigger than just vampires, the plot actually takes a look at gentrification in New York City where you’re from. What is something you cherish from where you grew up?
New York is so full of culture and vibrant with emotion. It’s truly an actor’s paradise. Still one of my favorite things to do in the city is people watch, just observe how people walk, and I know this sounds like some creepy acting nerd stuff, but it’s really fun to just sit back and observe people, and the city has its fair share of characters.
5. Across the entertainment industry, and especially at Netflix, more stories from BIPOC are being told. Being Dominican, what is a story you’d like to see told?
There are so many Latin American and Caribbean stories to be told, and the proof comes from the countries themselves, I know first hand that the film industry in the Dominican Republic is just absolutely booming with content, there are so many excellent Dominican films I’ve seen. It would be wonderful to be able to share these stories with my friends in the US. Movies, like Reinbou, Sambá, and El Hombre Que Cuida.
6. From your time on ‘The Get Down’, what was your favorite thing about playing Rafe?
Oh I loved playing Rafe, at the time I was 11 years old, and the character is such a loose cannon, I was basically under free reign to destroy at will. There were a few scenes where the direction was just, “BREAK STUFF,” so I did. With crowbar in hand, I smashed records, broke windows, ripped paper. Then for one of Rafe’s final scenes having to condense all of that down, it was really fun.
7. Between Wonderstruck and ‘The Get Down’ you’ve already gotten to explore a bit of the ‘70s. Is there a method you use to get into those characters vs modern-day ones?
Oh yea, of course, I mean there is your prep work and research before you start shooting. For “The Get Down” it was watching documentaries about gangs in the city during the ’70s, and for Wonderstruck it was going to museums and doing research on what was it like to be a kid in the ’70s. You know the walk, the jive, the style, and ultimately all those little things sit in your head while you’re on camera and I feel like it makes an actual difference in how much the audience can assimilate to your character.
8. Of all of your roles, which has been the furthest from your own personality?
By far, it has to be Rafe, I’ve played an android, I’ve voiced monkeys and jaguars, but by far Rafe was the most bizarre character I’ve created and shown on screen. Although, I would really love to play a serial killer type roll, like Jake Gyllenhaal or Jack Nicholson type roll. It’s the “J” names you know, we can do the crazy characters.
9. As a young actor, what are things you do to practice your craft?
I watch a lot of films, this isn’t my main way to practice, but it’s definitely my favorite. As of recent, I’ve been watching a lot of bad movies, you know, learning what NOT to do on screen. But yeah, movies have always been my thing. Besides that, going to acting classes, working with my fantastic coach Lisa Regina, and just keeping myself informed on the industry and whatnot.
10. You’ve worked alongside incredible talent so far in your career. Who are you looking to share the screen with next?
Ooooh, I would love to work with one of my favorite Dominican actors, Hector Anibal. James McAvoy definitely, I feel like I’d learn so much just being in his presence. Kelvin Harrison Jr. as well, and DEFINITELY, Ana De Armas, I may or may not have a crush on her, does she have a younger sister?
11. As an actor continuously going through training, what is a type of training you’d like to go through for your career? (martial arts, stunts, horseback riding, etc)
Doing a physically intense role sounds fun, with stunts. But probably more exciting, would be a skateboarding movie, like the mid 90’s – esque. That or perhaps a film about surfing. I love board sports as you can see.
12. Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
Working with Jim Jarmusch has been so moving and inspirational, he is truly an amazing friend and mentor.
13. What is something you wish you got asked more?
I wish I were asked more about my work with Unicef and the UN. It’s something truly important to me and I’d love to share it with more people. I was a part of the Global Kids Council by Grey Ad and UNICEF (HERE), and it was an honor to work with so many talented people who care about children and their future. I don’t think many people knew that we did this work. It is important for young people to be a part of the talks of our Future. After all, we the youth, are the Voice Of Tomorrow.
14. Shuffle all of your music. What are the first five songs that come up?
Kendrick Lamar – 911, Tyler the creator – Leaving Missouri, Atticus Ross (Yes, I listen to film soundtracks) – Parabola, Tool – Pacifics, Digable Planets – ( bonus song ) Nice Boys, Temporex
15. What does your dream role look like?
I would really love to play Miles Morales. Although I’m not always the biggest superhero movie fan, Miles’ story is one I would really be enamored to tell. So Sony, if you’re reading this, hit me up.