Shut Up, Jason Stuart Is Talking!
Jason Stuart boasts decades of fame as one of the first openly gay stand-up comedians. But he’s also performed masterful character work in many feature films including Tangerine and The Birth of a Nation. He has the ability to take on various roles of any genre, and make them believable. And he has earned over 150 credits that prove he is talented, professional, and persistent.
Jason recently documented his long and curious career in his memoir, Shut Up, I'm Talking! Coming Out in Hollywood and Making It to the Middle, from CCB Publishing. And we are pleased that he graciously agreed to the following e-mail interview for ReelTalk Movie Reviews.
ReelTalk: You have a remarkable background as a comedian and actor. So I was wondering – why did you choose comedy as your career?
Jason: I didn’t use comedy, as much as it sort of showed me. I had a manager at the time Cathryn Jaymes who later handled Quentin Tarantino. She thought I was really funny and urged me to start doing stand-up comedy.
ReelTalk: What do you consider your big break and why?
Jason: I’ve had several big breaks. The first one probably would be being on “Star Search” winning one episode and losing another to Martin Lawrence. Secondly, coming out on the “Geraldo Show” as an openly gay actor and comedian. Then, getting a recurring role on “My Wife & Kids” starring Damon Wayans. And lastly, landing a major supporting role in The Birth of a Nation playing a white heterosexual Christian plantation owner. That certainly was the icing on the cake in my career.
ReelTalk: What motivated you to write Shut Up, I’m Talking! Coming Out in Hollywood and Making It to the Middle?
Jason: I wanted to share my experience, strength and hope with people who felt that they were a minority in the workplace. People who felt like they didn’t belong anywhere. As I mentor a lot of people across all ages, straight and gay, I wanted to share what I’ve learned.
ReelTalk: Considering all your professional gigs, how did you manage the time to write your book?
Jason: When my co-writer Dan Duffy who wrote the book “The Half Book” which I just loved so much! I laughed, cried and got the courage to ask him if he would write my autobiography with me and he said, “Yes.” I had no choice.
ReelTalk: What was the most humorous situation you experienced while writing your book?
Jason: Talking to a heterosexual man about all the ins and outs of growing up gay and dealing with adult relationships as a man. It made us closer and LOL together. I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of in terms of straight men and them being really curious about us gay guys.
ReelTalk: Who are your favorite comedians and why?
Jason: Hands-down Joan Rivers and Don Rickles. They’re both outrageous, they had hearts of gold and they loved to talk to the audience. They were both playful and originals and made me laugh out loud. They are also both really good actors.
ReelTalk: Which do you prefer: acting or performing stand-up comedy and why?
Jason: As I’ve said many times, Comedy is like really fast quick sex. Sometimes it’s incredible and sometimes I would think, “Oh my God, why did I do that?” But the idea of making people laugh at something at the same time still amazes me. Acting is more like a relationship that has a beginning, middle and end. I love the idea of becoming someone else for a short time and sharing my feelings and knowing that someone is going to be watching this and I could change the way they feel about something. That’s powerful.
ReelTalk: What entertainment projects are you involved in now?
Jason: I have 4 independent films coming out this year -- Abducted, an action film, Immortal a thriller, The Fare a science fiction, and a little drama Hank that I’m getting some of the best reviews of my career.
ReelTalk: What is the most important thing you want our readers to know about you and your work?
Jason: I believe in life. When you have been successful and you go up in the elevator, you should take people with you. I heard Jack Lemmon say that and that has always stayed with me. I also believe in creating your own content. Which I just recently did with the new web series called “Smothered” co-everything’ed with Mitch Hara. That’s coming out next year.
ReelTalk: Where can people order Shut Up, I’m Talking! Coming Out in Hollywood and Making It to the Middle?
Jason: Amazon, CCB publishing, and all over the net. And go to my website jasonStuart.com and email me. Let me know what you all think or leave a review on Amazon. I love hearing from people.
Happily, Jason’s book is receiving rave reviews. Let’s end with one from comedian Aida Rodriguez
"Jason is such a funny comic that I had to read his book. Being raised by a gay man who was constantly bullied, it is refreshing to see someone having the courage to walk in their truth. It’s a quick read, full of laughs and written so well you can actually hear his voice. Do yourself a favor and pick it up, it’ll feel like you’re having a conversation with a funny, loving and person."