- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Jessie T. Usher doesn’t hesitate to call Will Smith his Hollywood role model, and so far the 23-year-old actor is doing an uncanny impression of the Fresh Prince, minus that part about parents not understanding. Successful TV comedy? Check. Usher plays basketball star Cam Calloway in Starz’s hilarious Survivor’s Remorse, which has completed its second season and was swiftly renewed for a third. Genre-bending movie career? Check. Usher was just cast in A Meyers Christmas, a Universal family comedy set for a November 2016 release, by which time Usher may already be a household name thanks to a little sequel called Independence Day: Resurgence, in which he plays the son of Captain Steven Hiller from the original smash. Hiller was, of course, the character played by … Will Smith.
The moment I knew I wanted to act: My sister was an actress before I ever got into it, and I kinda wanted to do what she was doing. That was a really young age. Four years old? I just followed her everywhere and just wanted to do what she wanted to do. I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into. I just wanted to be where she was and do what she was doing.
My industry role model: Will Smith. He’s been my career idol for years and years. I used to sit back and watch and study Fresh Prince of Bel-Air over and over. It’s the only TV show that I’ve watched all the way through maybe five times.
My worst habit on set: Eating junk food. I think for most people that’s the one. Craft services is evil, man. You’ve got to watch out. Luckily I like to exercise, so nobody ever notices. I live at craft services with cookies and Nutter Butters and chips and whatever stuff they just bring out. I’m addicted!
TV show I’m addicted to: If not Fresh Prince, right now it’s probably The Walking Dead. I plan out weekends just waiting for it.
Actor or director I’m dying to work with: Yeah, I’m waiting to work with Will Smith! I also would really like to work with Steven Spielberg.
My worst audition: I’ve had so many bad auditions! I tell people all the time, there’s differences, what makes an audition good or what makes an audition bad. Sometimes you’re just off and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.
My hidden talent: I’m a pretty good chef. I went to school for culinary arts and I barely ever cook in front of anyone, so no one knows.
Role I would’ve loved to play: Brad Pitt’s role in Mr. & Mrs. Smith — I want to do that so bad! That’s one of my favorite movies of all time and that character was so funny.
If I weren’t an actor: Oh yeah, I’d be chef. Acting pulled me away from that, but if I wasn’t acting, I’d be in kitchen right now.
My Hollywood pet peeve: Probably the parties. I hate those parties that everyone from Hollywood goes to and no one knows each other and everyone says hi because they recognize each other from TV. Those are like the fakest friendships in the world.
Career goal: To have a company where I can produce and maybe even have some in-house writers and directors and just put together passion projects, things of my own that I can create myself. That’s the long term.
Favorite movie ever: I don’t know! I’m trying to look around [the room] and see if there’s anything. Maybe The Lion King? The Lion King has held pretty strong for a long time.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
The Silent Twins