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Interview: ‘Genius: MLK/X’ Actor Jalyn Hall

Jalyn Hall is an up-and-coming young actor who has an impressive list of projects he’s worked on including “The Crossover” series which is streaming now on Disney+, Onyx Collective’s “Bruiser” film which is available to stream on Hulu in the US, and on Disney+ in many countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia the 2022 biographical film “Till” for which he was nominated for the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards in the category of Best Young Actor/Actress for portraying Emmett Till.

Most recently, Jalyn can be seen playing a young Martin Luther King Jr. in Nat Geo/Disney+’s series “Genius: MLK/X” which is available to stream now on Disney+ and Hulu in the United States and coming soon to Disney+ in other countries including Canada.

Disney Plus Informer recently had a chance to chat with Jalyn about his acting career, his new partnership with Invisalign and more.

Read on for the full interview below.

Last time we talked, you just started driving.  How is that going?

It’s going great.  It’s funny you say that because I just bought my first vehicle yesterday.  I got a beautiful, functional and elegant Mercedes.

You are starring in a new series from National Geographic, “Genius: MLK/X.”  Tell us about that.  What’s it about?

In this project, you get to see two sides of the same coin.  The Malcolm X and MLK story but in one show which is an amazing concept.  Often times these stories are told in comparison or separately so by unifying them you get to see different ideals and different situations that you might not have fully understood before told in a unified light and it’s very emotional and also very entertaining.

You play a young Martin Luther King Jr. in the series.  How did you prepare for your role?  Did you do any research beforehand?

Yes.  In every role, and especially in a role as important as this one…It’s crucial to find credible sources and we also had a lot of first hand sources on set so I definitely feel that it was easier to have a conversation with these people, on top of googling myself,but also getting that authentic raw information from the experts was very, very, very appreciated.

You also played Emmet Till in the movie “Till.”  Is it more challenging for you to play a real life historical figure or a fictional character?

I don’t think either is more difficult.  I think it’s just different ways of approaching the character.  I said previouslyin any role I take on or portray I like to give the utmost realism to the character and make it believable…like an open book.  You feel all of these emotions.  Sometimes we see these performances that yes, they get their point across and yes, they educate us in things we did not know but we can’t feel connected to it.  And I feel that we should always feel connected to our history, so to answer your question, I feel like going into a historical character, you learn about the character…their mannerisms…their speech…their lives…their emotion in that moment and you attach it to yourself and try to give it a raw beautiful and believable performance.

Whereas a created character, you have more room to be creative and change the character on the fly.  You make that character, that character.  You get the skeleton…you get the bones.  So you’re playing Jake, 15…goes to school.  It’s your job to now create… does Jake tap his foot when he gets nervous?  Does Jake have an uncontrollable sneezing problem?  Anything.  So I feel like it doesn’t get harder but the process is more unique.

You have been in so many projects and are so young.  What made you want to become an actor?

It’s a great question and one that I’m often asked but I feel as though there is nothing that made me want to be an actor.  It’s something that I always knew.  I was just made for it.  At the time I said that I wanted to get into acting, I knew nothing about it.  No one in my family has ever been in the business.  I didn’t know what a set was.  I never knew what a camera, other than the one on my phone, looked like.  So it was really, genuinely something inside me that knew he wanted to be inside that TV.  I don’t know if it was because I was sitting in front of it every day and envisioned myself on the other side of the screen or what, but that fire just burned so brightly and has continued to burn all the way up to this point.

You recently partnered with Invisalign.  First of all, what is Invisalign in case someone doesn’t know?

If you guys out there don’t know what the Invisalign treatment is, it is a comfortable and efficient way to get a beautiful smile with so much less of the trials and tribulations…so much less of the hindrance, so much less of the facial change and so much easier to handle, to feel, to be, to live in day to day.  Look!  Can you even tell that I have them in right now?

No.  Not at all.  I was going to ask if you were wearing them because I couldn’t tell.

Yeah.  I am wearing them right now.  Invisalign liners can help change not only your smile but your future, your appearance, how you see yourself, your confidence, your personality…It makes you want to smile more.  It’s had that effect on me as you can see.  So yeah, anyone looking for a way to get your idealistic smile, definitely look our way.

What do you love the most about them?

It’s the easiness and also there’s something about them that even when they’re in, they’re working to get you that smile so when you take them out you have your ideal smile but even once they go in, and this is my opinion, it just makes your smile that much better with them just being in.  It’s full.  It’s brighter. It’s everything that you could want for yourself because my mom and I always say to ourselves, there are a lot of features that stand out in a person…their eyes, their complexion…their nails even…but most importantly their smile because your smile can light up a room.  Your smile can make others smile.  Your smile can brighten someone else’s day.  If you want the smile that does all of the above, then Invisalign is right for you.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Many thanks to Jalyn for sharing his time with us.

You can find Jalyn on Instagram, TikTok, and more.

Michelle Beck
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