By// Mariah Craddick
Actor Amin Joseph has all of the makings of Hollywood leading man: the talent, the charm and, of course, the dashing good looks. After paying his dues shooting various commercials, working at the Apollo Theater, and even playing an extra in the film classic Brown Sugar, Joseph is now starring as the lead character in Zane’s sexy new Cinemax series, Zane’s The Jump Off.
JETmag.com spoke with the actor about his first big break, his dream role, and what it’s like shooting all of those sex scenes (because you know you want to know).
Tell us a little about yourself growing up.
I was born in Queens then raised in Harlem. I grew up working in the Apollo Theater in Harlem, doing everything from their money drops to interning for them. I was a regular kid, mischievous—but the arts were my outlet so I didn’t get into too much trouble.
When did that “big break” happen in your acting career and what role was it?
Well, what I thought was a big break at the time was this BET show called Rage and Discipline that we shot in Harlem. Before that I’d done commercials for Foot Locker, Sprite. I was scouted in high school to do a commercial for Bell Atlantic. My ultimate goal was to be the best actor that I could be and get better roles and more opportunity.
What would be a dream role for you?
I just produced one of my dream roles with this international action film where we speak 10 different languages. It’s about an ousted coupe from Haiti called Call Me King. I wanted to make a film that had black leads in it. We don’t usually get those types of films. People say they’re not easy to monetize, but to me there’s no track record. We’ve never seen one of them fail.
You often get the comparisons to other actors, such as Taye Diggs and Lance Gross. Are those career paths you’d like to emulate?
Lance is my dude and Taye Diggs is definitely somebody that I look up to. I was actually an extra in Brown Sugar when I was younger; I was one of the little rapper guys. I respect those guys and their careers but I think my path is a little different. I feel like I’m more of a character actor. I may look like a leading man, but if you really look at my filmography it’s so many different shades. I’ve played really dark characters: an African pirate leader, a homeless guy living on the streets of L.A., a CIA agent—so many different layers. Even when I’m doing the sexy thing, it’s a little more sexy than what most guys do. There’s more edge on whatever I do, a little bit more jalapeno.
Speaking of sexy characters, let’s talk about your role on this new Zane series, Zane’s The Jump Off.
The series is about five guys in their early 30s who came up in Miami. My character, Dmitri Vance, was born in Miami, went to high school there, college. He’s also a professional football player and he’s won championships. So he is the man of Miami. They call him “The Jump Off” because he jumps over defenders in the in-zone. He takes that moniker and brands himself as this national star. So he has a club called “The Jump Off,” an energy drink called “The Jump Off”—and so on and so forth. You can think of it like an Entourage or a Sex and the City with guys. You see how men really talk about women, how we interact with our sexuality, how we deal with being depressed, disappointment, sensuality.
You guys do a lot of sex scenes on the show. Are they really as terrible as people say they are? Has anything embarrassing ever happened?
I guess it matters who you are and who your partner is. What a lot people don’t realize is that it takes a lot of vulnerability to open yourself up to another person that you don’t know. So there’s a lot of trust that has to be established. The things that are funny are like when you can’t hear a sound cue or someone’s telling you to change positions, holding your head a certain way just to be in the light. In one of the sex scenes this season, I had on these magnetic earrings because I don’t have holes in my ears. The actress I was with had on jewelry. So when we were doing the scene, the earrings kept popping off and we had to stop to find them. Imagine stopping in the middle of this sexual scene and looking for that in between two passionate, sweaty bodies. Those are the kind of things that happen.
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Where do you hope to see yourself next?
My immediate goal is to be an international producer of content. To make action films, sci-fi films by people of color. As kids, everyone wanted to be Superman or Batman. No one wants to be the guy that gets killed in the first 10 minutes. You want to be the guy that makes it through. So I feel like everyone should have that opportunity.
Are you working on any other film projects right now?
I’ll be working on a project coming out in the fall called Homefront, which is an action film with Jason Stratham. And then I also have a TNT series I’ll be doing called Lost Angels. Oh, and there’s also a film we’re working on called Black Magic in the works. I think the ladies are going to get a little more than what they got from Magic Mike.
Zane’s The Jump Off airs on Cinemax After Dark Fridays at 11pm EST. Follow Amin on Twitter @Amin_Joseph.