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Actor, singer, and dancer– are just three words to describe the tremendous talent that consumes Jacob Latimore. Latimore has had a remarkable career thus far, and at only twenty-years-old, he still has a lot more in store.
Latimore introduced himself to the world at age nine, when he released his debut single, “Best Friend.” The success of “Best Friend” led the Milwaukee native to later put out countless more songs including: “Superstar,” “Nothing On Me,” “This or That,” “Heartbreak Around The World,” and many more. In-between the release of his singles, he managed to put out three mixtapes: I Am The Future, This Is Me, and This Is Me 2. Last year (Dec. 2016), he dropped his debut album, Connection, which features vocals from IshDARRR, a well-known rapper from Milwaukee.
Latimore has had his fair share being on the big screen. He brought his acting talents to films such as Black Nativity, Ride Along, and The Maze Runner. He also appeared in Collateral Beauty (Dec. 2016), alongside Will Smith, where he played the character Raffi. His new film, Sleight, which is directed by Justin Dillard, debuts later on this week (Apr. 28). In the upcoming sci-fi film, Latimore plays a magician, who used to deal drugs and encounters the challenge of trying to save his kidnapped sister.
I had the opportunity to speak to Jacob Latimore about the success of his debut album, what he’s learned from working with the legendary Will Smith, and why he feels Sleight will leave a lasting impression on viewers.
Dayna: Congrats on the success of your debut album. What was the creative process behind that body of work? What songs off that project still resonate with you today?
Jacob: R&B is the foundation in my sound. I’ve been inspired by it since I was a kid, so I definitely wanted my first project to reflect that. Lyrically, I wanted to talk about relatable things. I think the most relatable songs on the project are “Mutual,” “Risky” and “Remember Me,” when it comes to relationships. I definitely wanted to have those types of records on my project.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Micheal [Jackson], The Temptations, Bruno Mars, Bryson Tiller, and Kendrick Lamar. I just pull inspiration from a lot of things, even outside of music.
In the film Collateral Beauty, your character focused on the importance of time. What were your expectations going into the film? How did they evolve by the end of it?
Honestly, when I booked it, I was like “Okay, I’m playing time. How do I play time? [he laughs.]” When I was in the audition room, I was saying what I had to say, but I didn’t think I fully understood what I was saying. We got on set and started dissecting the scenes. Love is sort of like the creation, the reason we live, and the reason we’re [people] here. Death is the end. Time is that bridge in-between. We started breaking it down that way. It allowed me to perform so much better. As an actor, when you know what you’re saying versus acting like you know what you’re saying, it comes across so much more organic.
What advice did Will Smith offer you while working on Collateral Beauty?
The thing he taught me the most was to be absolutely human and to spread love. People would always approach him because we’re in New York, so it’s a lot of people outside. Everybody notices Will. You can’t walk past him and not notice him. After a while, I said to him, “Man, how do you do this? Did you get numb to this [the attention]? This has been your entire life.” He said his whole perspective changed when he met Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was so famous in Africa. He [Will Smith] noticed that Nelson Mandela would go into crowds, touch people’s shoulders, and get them to smile.
Will clasped that instantly and asked him, “Why do you do that?” People have to know that I’m real, I’m a human being, I’m flesh. They can do this too. They can dream and be exactly who they want to be as well. That was really cool. I think because we see Will on television so much, we may look at Will as an alien like he’s not one of us. He loves to push that envelope every day, every time he walks outside. He loves being recognized and stepping outside. He doesn’t mind taking photos. His attitude stays consistent.
Sleight has a completely different storyline. How did you prepare yourself to become this great magician? Did you learn a trick or two?
I did learn a couple. It’s nothing I fully mastered, I think the main goal for me was just being absolutely comfortable in that environment. The advanced stuff was done for me. It was important to me that I knew how to spread the deck of cards properly. For two weeks straight I would just have a deck of cards in my back pocket, just shuffling.
The challenge for me was definitely the cards. It’s a frustrating practice. You practice a magic trick, then the cards fall all over the floor, you have to pick them up one by one, and try it again [he laughs]. That’s probably the most challenging thing, to be honest. We shot the movie in about sixteen days, which is a short amount of time for this type of movie. I was scheduling and busting it out every day. It was pretty challenging but overall, I had a great time.
What do you want viewers to take away after seeing Sleight? Do you feel as though this film is a must see?
Absolutely. I think young black actors haven’t been the face of this type of film as much. My goal was to make people believe young black men could be apart of these type of films and it could be believable, that’s why I feel like it is a must see. Even if we take out the effects, the tricks, the super-heroism of it, we still have a relatable story. The story of a kid who wants to provide for his younger sister and make a way. That story alone is very impactful. I think the magic was the icing on the cake.
What can fans expect in the future? Are you solely focused on acting right now?
For me, it’s kind of just letting the wave ride. I get so many auditions, I get so many great offers, and opportunities to work with great people. I feel like it would be crazy if I denied it to say “I’m doing music right now, I can’t do it.” I think that it would hinder me from this lane that I’m taking. I’m still discovering where I’m going right now. I never really thought acting would take me this far. I’m still trying to see what’s coming up ahead. When I was younger music was more of the forefront and a little bit of film. Now I’m doing a lot of films, and only a little bit of music [he laughs]. It’s all very fun to me, it’s all performing. I’ve always loved to perform whether it was on stage or on a television screen.