James Earl is an actor and musician best known for his roles in Ground Floor and Glory Daze. Recently I had to the opportunity to talk to James about his new show Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, MGM’s The Belko Experiment, DJing and Rick Ross.
You’re on Fox’s new show Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life. Can you please tell our readers what it’s about?
Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life is a 30-minute live action show on Fox. It’s pretty much a look inside life after college. A lot of people don’t know what they’re going to do after college. A lot of people do have a plan but then their plan doesn’t follow through. So our series shows you the mistakes we made so you don’t have to make the same mistakes. (laughs).
It’s really funny!
Thank you. Yeah, we get a lot of opportunities to test the waters and push it to the limit. A lot of the comedy just comes from the chemistry between the actors.
I find a lot of the really great shows have really good chemistry between the cast.
That’s something we really made sure that we did. We made sure that we all got together before filming so we could get to know each other. We wanted it to show on the screen. Nw we’re all friends. We all hang out. We all chill.
Cooper, Barry, Neal, and Josh get into some crazy situations. How much fun has it been to play Barry?
Barry has been tremendously fun because it’s like an over exaggerated version of myself. (laughs). I get to be over the top and I get to do all this crazy stuff. It’s super fun playing Barry.
Yeah, the thing with the TV was hysterical.
We lost our TV. That’s one thing I love about the show. That took place over a three-year period of time. Sometimes in these shows, a lot of time is spent explaining the characters. So you can kind of get a vibe of who we all are. See how much friendship matters. Especially to Barry friendship is important. It wasn’t just about the TV. It was more about the time that they were going to be able to spend together. Without that TV, some of those moments would not be able to happen.
There is a national college tour for Cooper Barrette’s Guide to Surviving Life. What can fans expect to experience at the tour?
We are doing a live Q&a with the audience. We play some games as well. We have the Barry’s Grandma’s Hangover Cure truck that’s following us around too. So we’re handing out free Barry’s Grandma’s Hangover Cures. (laughs). It’s pretty cool.
Oh my gosh, so you guys actually created the hangover cure?
Yeah, the hangover cure is real!
You are also in the upcoming movie The Belko Experiment. Can you please tell our readers what that movie is about?
There’s not too much I can really say about it because it’s such a tricky plot. What I can say is it’s about a group of people from America that work at this government building in Columbia. One day we get a random notice that everybody has to act on. It’s like you’re trying to see who’s who. Our writer was James Gunn. He is the director and writer for Guardians of the Galaxy. So it was pretty cool to work for him and a lot of those actors who are in Guardians of the Galaxy are the same in The Belko Experiment. It’s an action thriller and I can’t wait for it to come out.
I read that you are also a musician as well as an actor. What type of music do you play?
I’m more of a producer. I produce hip hop and R&B. I like doing EDM stuff every now and then. I’m kind of a fusion guy so I like mixing different genres and putting them all together.
Where would you like to see your music career go in the future?
I just want to work with more artists and I want to put out more projects of my own. I want to get to the tour levels, just traveling and touring the world doing shows. Setting a name, an iconic name in music. Putting out a catalog of music that lasts forever.
You’ve worked with the legendary producer Rick Ross. I’ve heard from other artists what an incredible experience it was for them. Can you tell us what your experience with him was like?
I got the opportunity to go on a tour with Rick Ross with the band called1500 Or Nothin’. I worked closely with them. I’m actually the DJ of the band. We got the opportunity to open up for Rick Ross. We did a whole east coast tour. Ten different cities. It was really cool. We got the chance to open up and do our own thing right before his show and then afterward he went and did his thing.
He’s a real cool dude. He’s focused on his business and making things happen. He showed us mad love and it was an incredible opportunity that we got to do.
Is there an actor or musician you haven’t worked with yet that you would like to collaborate with?
I definitely want to work with Timberland. Of course I want to work with Denzel. I want to work with everybody you know. (laughs). I don’t really have a specific list of people who I want to work with. I want to work with everybody.
How did you get into acting?
I was a troubled kid. I used to always be in a lot of trouble and stuff. So I used to have to go to detention or after school programs and one of the programs I got into was an improv program. Where I had to do improv and I took a real liking to it. So I stayed in it. Every school I went to I got involved with a program or something like that. I just stuck with it. Later in life, it took a turn for it to become a career. Which is really cool.
Is there a role you’ve played that helped define you as an actor?
Yeah definitely. I worked on a show called Ground Floor that lasted two years. It definitely helped me learn how to perform and how to be prepared. I learned a lot from doing that role.
Is there anything that you do to help prepare for an audition?
I walk and I try to go somewhere that’s peaceful. Somewhere that I can just really zone in and get into the dialog. I read my scripts multiple times. Once I read it just as a person reading it. Then the second time I read it as if I was the writer. The third time I read it as if I was the director. Then after that, I read it again as an actor trying to learn the lines. I try to take it from every perspective. So I can understand where the people were coming when they were creating it.
We at TNWU all have something nerdy/geeky about us. What is something nerdy or geeky about you?
I’m into electronics and computers and stuff. Like gidgets and gadgets. I’m really into that type of thing.