Having starred in noteworthy films like Straight Outta Compton and Mudbound, as well as on Showtime’s new original series The Chi, Jason Mitchell is one of the most buzzed about actors in Hollywood. He stopped by The Breakfast Club to his humble beginnings, his unique audition for Straight Outta Compton, what The Chi represents, and more.
“The Chi is the circle of life in Chicago," said Mitchell, who plays Brandon on the series that premiered to positive reviews. "So many times they dehumanize the fact that these families are losing sons and daughters. They are being stripped. When I first got to Chicago, I saw an interactive billboard that said 46 people were shot this weekend. I was like, Why is this not the talk of Chicago? Why are people not trying to actively get out there and help? It’s because there’s a misunderstanding and an ignorance. This TV show is allowing you to see that the people behind this violence aren’t always just wild.”
Mitchell’s former portrayal of one of gangsta rap’s forefathers, Eazy-E, was critically-acclaimed. But it wasn't without its obstacles. During his interview, he reflected with hosts with Angela Yee, DJ Envy and Charlamagne tha God on how he secured the Straight Outta Compton bag via Skype. Due to circumstances, he wasn’t able to take a meeting in Los Angeles regarding the film.
“The way my bank account, my life and my probation was set up, I couldn’t just leave," he jokingly recalled. "I had things going on in my life.” However, a visual conference call was soon set up with the movie’s director F. Gary Gray, and then the rest became history.
The seeds of Jason Mitchell’s blossoming acting career were first planted while attending what he referred to as a “random acting workshop that was only eight weeks and was passing through New Orleans.” The workshop, which a friend suggested he attend, proved to be beneficial even though his performance was less than stellar. “I was terrible,” he admitted. “But the lady was like, 'There’s something about you, and if you stick with this you might have some juice.'"
Before he was known for his roles, Mitchell was running the streets of Hollygrove. Hailing from the same hood as Lil Wayne, the New Orleans-birthed actor relied on the icon for inspiration. “My cousin actually use to make beats for him. He did a couple of beats on the first Carter. It was one of the things that helped me dream big,” recalled Mitchell.