HELLO AMERICA!—It is quite gratifying when you meet a young actor who is right on point when discussing a play or film. Andre Jack who grew up in Las Vegas represents this kind of ambitious actor who takes the responsibility of bringing to life a character very serious. He does his research and eagerly compares what reality is and what fantasy and symbolism means in emphasizing life and truth.
He is another actor who is quickly moving forward in a town that eats and swallows people who are not willing to sacrifice and work to receive the golden fleece in the arts.
MSJ: What was the first film and or theatre piece that made a difference in your creative young life and why?
AJ: I’m not entirely certain how far back we’re talking when we’re talking about the “first” so I guess I’ll go as far back as I can remember, passing by the opportunity to talk about great films like the “Silver Linings Playbook” or “Birdman” (congratulations to them by the way!). In the late 1990s, there was a goofy Japanese cartoon out by the name of Pokémon. Anyone in my generation should remember it, and if not they should look it up. It was based on the video games that came out around the same time. It wasn’t exactly any sort of deep or philosophical show. It was an anime, and for those of you unfamiliar with the genre of anime, the closest parallel I can think of is this: it’s basically the spirit of ACDC put into cartoon form. It’s violent and simple, but the greatest way to describe it is epic. It makes your adrenaline pump. It creates and characterizes an entire world from scratch, then through the cunning use of blinky lights brings the epicness to our world. It was Pokémon and shows of the like that made me realize as a small child the purpose of entertainment and even comedy which has become my oversized weapon of choice over the years. After all, Edward Albee’s The American Dream is a comedy, and even though it only takes place in one small apartment, I’m sure you’ll find it quite epic.
MSJ: What actor impressed you most as a young actor and why?
AJ: I have a sister. Her name’s Kaylina, and she’s the greatest human being to ever live. Besides like, Gandhi I suppose.. When my sister really loves a show she’ll find it on Netflix and watch all 5-10 seasons of the thing 9-10 times. I share in her enthusiasm, but I’m afraid I find her practice of it to be difficult. But if there’s one show I can watch all 7 seasons of time and time again and never get bored it’s “30 Rock.” Tina Fey ladies and gentlemen. The perfect combination of intelligence and humility, her shows show a seamless range of comedy from ingenious, to stupid. This inspires me. Makes me want to be a better comedian. Unfortunately though I cannot take my acting inspiration from Ms. Fey because I’m male, so I guess I’ll be like Alec Baldwin or something. Yet my fandom of Tina Fey explains in greater detail why I’m so thankful to be a part of the American dream (Edward Albee’s American Dream that is). The show. Not to say that I’m not proud to be an American or anything, I am proud to be an American, this time I was just specifically talking about the play that I’m in (Buy tickets now, beat the rush!)), because some of the humor is so gloriously stupid but then you think about it and its so breathtakingly wise. Think about that one.
MSJ: How did it feel in making your first appearance on a stage or in a film?
AJ: I’m not going to complain about growing up in Las Vegas, Nevada. Contrary to common belief it’s actually a really really nice town to grow up in. I’ve driven on many a wide-open road, many fantastic people have entered my life there, and most importantly, the food is exquisite! But one thing it is not is a theatre town. There are really only a handful of theatres around the Las Vegas area and until recently there were almost none (discounting the strip of coarse which is where all the stereotypical stuff happens. If it weren’t for the strip, Vegas would be about as much of a tourist attraction as Needles. But I don’t count it toward facts about my childhood because I didn’t get a fake ID until like last year (that was a joke [don’t arrest me]. I had to specify because I know someone out there is going to take it seriously). So it wasn’t until I was about 13 that I knew theatre actually existed. I was taking drum lessons in the local music shop when I saw they were holding auditions for Godspell the musical in the back room with a tiny stage. After getting an explanation from my mom of what on earth a musical was, and that Godspell was intended to be a pun, I decided to see if they needed a drummer. Long story short, I ended up acting in the thing. I was confused and lost on that stage, but I got some nice comedy bits (that went pretty well) and I got to sing a solo (which didn’t go so well, but I was 13 what do you want from me)? Point is I felt like I achieved something for the first time like ever, and that’s all a man can ask for in this world. That and to find a girl, gimme a call if you’re single, ladies. So yea, I felt unique. Perhaps a feeling that caused some sort of high. Thank God(spell) I found it before something else that could give me a high that may or may not be illegal.
MSJ: The play you’re doing now, what is it basically about and what kind of role are you playing or bringing to life in it? And how much research or homework have you had to do in getting to know or understand what the character is about?
AJ: I remember sitting at the first reading and getting to listen to all of the actors say all the lines and seeing the plot come together for the first time. The words that kept coming to mind are “Is this really happening?” It’s a comedy that gets quite dark at times, and, as a fan of “M.A.S.H.” and similar things, I can really get behind it.
Edward Albee’s The American Dream (and I introduce it as Edward Albee’s because I’m not sure if I’m allowed to not do so) and I can’t blame him if he requires his name to be stated in the title (if I wrote something that good I’d probably do the same) has many things that it’s “about.” On the surface it’s about a couple in the 50s. But look down some layers and you find some really exquisite things. The way Wikipedia defines it is an exploration of the existence of the American dream and of the American family’s status quo. Fine I’ll say it. Albee’s a genius. In fact so is our director Alyson York, and so are all my cast members. You’ll laugh you’ll cry and you may vomit. What more could you want? So ya’ll really should see it.
MSJ: Ultimately, what is your ultimate objective or goal, does it lie on the stage or in front of the camera? What is your gut feeling or artistic passion?
AJ: I’m not gonna lie and say that answering these questions has been easy. It’s not. I’ve never had a talent for having answers, particularly about myself, but I can say that they’ve been possible up to this point. An ultimate objective or goal is extra super special hard to pin down. I’ll do my best to answer. Due to family values passed down by my parents, as well as values that I find in classic philosophy as well as classic rock, I can say with confidence that the purpose of a human life is to find some sort of happiness. No matter what religion you have, this is true. You can argue with me about it if you like. Find me on Facebook, I’ll be under AJ Fleuridas (until I get around to changing it to Andre Jack people from LA will understand that you’re not cool until you’ve dropped your last name). I’m reminded of that old song Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “All I want for you my son is to be satisfied.”
MSJ: How much have you changed or learned since your active beginning as an actor. Do you understand yourself better and is that scary?
AJ: Woah. These past couple questions have been hard. We’re getting pretty deep here. Honestly I do not understand myself better. I really can’t find a good way to answer this. So I guess I’ll fall back on my master card of just making it interesting. To do that, I’ll answer in limerick form.
I was once told by Thales of Miletus,
That the answer inside might surprise us,
And it’s difficult to know,
What goes on below,
So there’s nothing left we can discuss.