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10 Things You May Not Know: Christopher Jackson of ‘Hamilton'

Category Broadway

|by Karu Daniels |

With almost 20 years in the game, the Emmy and Grammy Award-winning entertainment powerhouse continues to make magic on Broadway portraying the first American president

Christopher Jackson has come a long way from making his Broadway debut in The Lion King in 1997. Over the past two decades, the Illinois native has starred in an array of Broadway productions, including the Tony Award-winning Best Musical In The Heights, the acclaimed jazz revue After Midnight and the short-lived Tupac Shakur event Holler If Ya Hear Me.

Along the way, the 40-year-old, happily married father of two worked on the Electric Companyreboot, crafted an Emmy Award-winning anthem for Sesame Street (‘What I Am’ sung by, with a video boasting over 57 million views to date) and made history on The Great White Way portraying George Washington in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking, hip-hop-flavored tour-de-force Hamilton.

Christopher Jackson as George Washington with the cast of ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Christopher Jackson as George Washington with the cast of ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway (Photo: Joan Marcus)

“I always say the project I’m most interested in doing is ‘the one I’m currently doing,'” Jackson shares. “I came into this business with the hopes of experiencing as many different kinds of jobs as I could. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some pretty amazing shows and have worked with a wide array of brilliant artists. My hope is that I can continue to do so for years to come.”

Below, the multi-hyphenated powerhouse opens up about his insecurity, his addiction, the love of his life (singer/actress Veronica Vazquez-Jackson) and what made him a better parent.

My favorite body part is…
At the risk of sounding a little arrogant, I’d have to say, my favorite body part is my face. A few years back, I was doing a photo shoot for my first album. And when it was over and I was looking at the proofs, I was struck by one of the shots. I don’t know if it was my expression or what I was wearing, but I saw my grandfather’s face! He passed away in 2002 and it was the first time I’d ever noticed the resemblance. There’s a photo of him as a GI in World War 2 and our faces were almost identical! It blew me away. And now, every time I look in the mirror, I see him.

My struggle is real
I struggle with insecurity. I’m sure there’s a deep-seated reason, but I’m not very good with remembering names and in some social situations, my anxiety level can get pretty high. It’s something that I struggle with constantly, but I try to get better with it each day.

I’m always helpful but it comes at a cost
I am a “serial fixer.” My close friends have almost beaten it out of me… but when someone comes to me with a problem, I go into “Mr. Fix-it-Mode.” The problem being that once that happens, my ability to listen gets shoved to the side and I’m told it’s not a very endearing trait.

My Emmy is in a special place but I have no idea where my Grammy is
I keep my Emmy in my studio right next to a picture of my grandparents and my son CJ. He used to come into my studio and grab my [microphone] and sing into it — no matter what I happened to be working on. I managed to snap a pic of him when he was about four years old and it became my favorite picture. I haven’t gotten the Grammy yet. I’m told it’s on its way and I’ll probably put it on the shelf next to the Emmy. For me, they’re reminders of what I’ve been a part of, but they push me to go further… to do more!

Damn Skippy
My trainer will kill me for admitting this, but my guiltiest pleasure is Skippy peanut butter with honey, and Goldfish crackers. I’m not all that into candy or chocolate, but I  love some PB and cheese crackers. I’ve been known to get home from a two-show day and saddle up with sports and a bowl of Goldfish with peanut butter.

The Big Apple is continuously breathtaking to me
I think one of NYC’s “best-kept secrets” is its land/cityscapes. It’s hard to put into words how breathtaking the views around the city can be. Whether it’s coming across the GW Bridge and looking south to see the skyline, walking along the High Line or across any of the bridges spanning the East River. Or the cobblestone streets in Brooklyn Heights, or walking anywhere Uptown surrounded by the mélange of cultures. It truly reminds you that we are so blessed to live in the “Greatest City in the World!”

Speaking of apples
I don’t think I’d make it too far without my iPhone. It may as well be sewn to my hand at this point. Between ticket requests, biz stuff and trying to keep up with my wife and kids, I can’t imagine not having it. I envy folks who are able to disconnect for days at a time, but for me, I don’t know how I’d be able to. Plus, in weeks when things get super busy, I’m at least able to have a little FaceTime with my babies before I go onstage.

I grew up in Cairo — but not The City of the Dead
Growing up in Cairo, Illinois, was beautiful! I was on a first-name basis with life! I knew almost every family. My mom taught at the high school my whole life, so there was a direct connection to almost everyone I came in contact with. Being near the south, there certainly were elements of not-so-happy times from the recent past. But to a person, there was this understanding that change was inevitable and steady. As kids, there was the awareness that a caring eye was always watching and that built a foundation and a confidence in me that I could go anywhere in the world and be fearless… because there was always home.

How I got my wife to say “yes”
Tommy Kail takes full credit for Veronica and I getting together. Heights was in its early development and TK called me in for a “chemistry read” (the only such reading I”ve ever had). She was the last of about four to five ladies that had come in to read for Nina. As soon as she opened her mouth, I was DONE. Not only was she the most beautiful woman I’d ever laid my eyes on, but also I couldn’t believe that she was as supremely talented as she was (and still is!) So throughout the whole rehearsal, I was sweating, trying to figure out a way to ask her out. I had some help from the ladies of Heights too… But I asked her out. She said yes… and I never left her alone from that day on! Simply wore her down!

My son is on the autism spectrum and it made me a better parent
When CJ was diagnosed, I had no idea what Autism Spectrum Disorder was. I didn’t know what it would mean for him, for Veronica and I, for our future. And it instantly robbed me of the most powerful part of being a parent… hope. Through the years, we’ve learned so much about what our CJ goes through, though there are still a million unanswered questions. I am passionate about sharing our story because I want to let other parents out there know that they are not alone; that there is beauty in your child, in whatever condition they are in. I’ve met parents that are in denial; that don’t want to talk about it, as if it’s something they should be ashamed of. And it’s not. Our kids don’t stop being human beings because they have autism. That diagnosis is just the beginning of the process by which we learn ways to understand them. CJ’s autism made me a better parent and continues to refine who I am to him and how I communicate with the world.

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