To find inspiration for the motives of his role in Lottery Ticket (currently in theaters), all Brandon T. Jackson had to do was look to his past experiences of growing up in a well-to-do suburb and attending weekly church services in a poorer Black community.
“I’m from the burbs and the hood [of Detroit] and it was the best upbringing. The poor survive and rich live and I saw the difference. I remember going out with my [rich friends] and we’d be out having a good time on jet skis,” says Jackson. “Then I would go back to the hood and cats would be playing ball. And I would have loved to bring my hood friends out to jet ski. But it’s two different worlds.”
Jackson plays Benny, (sidekick to Bow Wow’s character, Kevin) a young man who despite being from the ghetto would love to enjoy the finer things in life. And it appears to be an easy dream fulfilled once Kevin wins the lottery in Ticket’s storyline, but conflicts ensue over class and broken economic dreams. [Nonspoiler alert: And for Lottery Ticket’s big dramatic rooftop scene, the 26-year old remembered his real friends who could be deemed part of the have nots.]
“My hood friends would come to my house and say, ‘Dang! Y’all have ketchup and mustard?’ I was trying to embody that person,” he says of his performance. “When you’re blessed you’ve got to be sensitive to people that don’t have and need to depend on somebody else to eat.”
After sharing the screen with Jack Black in 2008’s Tropic Thunder, up next for Jackson is a costarring role alongside, Martin Lawrence in Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, the third installment in the Big Momma House franchise due in theaters next year. And while he may be another comedian turned actor who does standup, Jackson insists you haven’t seen someone like him before, because his influences are wide and varied.
“People are always saying, ‘I’m the next Will [Smith]’ I’m the next ‘Martin’ but I’ve gotten the opportunity to learn from a few people,” says Jackson. “I’ve worked with Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr.; I also watch a lot of Will and Jamie Foxx, all of the greats. I just try to take from all of them and have a good time.”—Ronke Idowu Reeves