Spotlight: James Brown III

March 14, 2012

One of my favorite things about tweeting @bwaynews is the amazing opportunity I have to interview some spectacular performers. Ghost: The Musical begins previews on Broadway March 15th and I’m thrilled to present an interview with cast member James Brown III! James has a great history with Broadway working on shows such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Memphis, The Little Mermaid and The Color Purple. James shares some insights about bringing Ghost over from London as well as his fashion line! Be sure to follow James on twitter at @jamesgeorgeiii.

What first inspired you to be an actor and dancer?

Hard Question: I started acting recreationally in middle school and basically stayed with it as an extracurricular activity through college, but it was with no intention of ever doing it professionally. I definitely didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a performer. I was a very serious athlete on a path of going to medical school and becoming a Psychiatrist or Neurosurgeon. Fate caught up with me when psych research brought me to NYC and my intended path was laid in front of me. Something that had always been a passion of mine became my profession and I haven’t stopped since. That was a longwinded way of saying I’ve always loved TV, Movies, and of course theater and falling in love with the craft  manifested itself in a career years later.

You’ve had the privilege of being a part of a bunch of Broadway shows. What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned that you apply to your work ethic today?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is to LISTEN. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised at how many performers don’t listen. I use that word in the broadest sense, because it has so many applications. As an actor, listening is the key to making scenes work, it’s the key to actually sharing the stage with your fellow actors. The only way to react honestly is to have truly heard what you are responding to. Another important listening lesson is when you are in an audition and a director, choreographer or musical director gives you a correction or specific details about your audition material and applying them immediately. Listening is the key to learning, growing, and being the ultimate professional.

What show that you have been a part of/person you’ve played fits your personality the most?

“Memphis” and “Ghost” are the shows that fit my personality the most. And I would say that Harpo from “The Color Purple” and Simba from “The Lion King” are the roles I’ve played that best fit my personality.

What can you share with us about your next project, GHOST?

What can I share? Well I can tell you what I can’t share, I can’t share the magic and illusion secrets in the show. We are sworn to secrecy about those amazing moments in the show and I would hate to ruin them. I can tell you that the show is like no other on broadway right now. How can you go wrong with the incredibly smart and talented direction of Matthew Warchus (God of Carnage, The Norman Conquest, Matilda, etc.)?The music is amazing written by our legendary composers Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard. If you don’t know their song book, google them and get into it, but it might include Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On”. And of course choreographed by commercial choreographer Ashley Wallen. He’s successfully merged the worlds of music videos and musical theater by using his style of dance to enhance the tone and emotion of fast pace life in New York City. I am so proud to be a part of this production and can’t wait for the Broadway audience to experience the magic of “Ghost”.

Those that have seen the London production, can we expect some new touches to the Broadway version?

You sure can expect new touches and changes. We’ve replaced the song “Ball of Wax” with a great new song called “You Gotta Let Go Now”. The choreography has been amped up for our production, lots of new videos for the video wall, new scenes, edited scenes, broadway actors, and ME…LOL

In the future, do you see yourself still on stage or would you like to make a jump into film and tv?

I can see myself producing theater, TV and film before I would make the jump to being in front of the camera. I have enjoyed the tv and film worked I’ve done in the passed but I am having a great time in theater. I love it. To be honest I just want to continue to follow my passions.

Tell us about your fashion line. What got you started in design?

I’ve always loved fashion and styling. I pride myself of having my own sense of style and knowing what I look best in as well as having an eye for what looks good on other people. With that said, it was Associate Director/Choreographer Tara Young who got me started in design. Tara taught me how to knit 5 years while in tech for “The Little Mermaid” and my growing love for knitting led me into designing my own knit patterns which made an easy transition to sewing. My grandmother showed me how to use a sewing machine and I was off and running.

I love the pieces on your website, the dresses are absolutely gorgeous. What can we expect from you and your fashion work in 2012?

You can expect to see a few of my designs on the red carpet of the “Ghost” Opening Night. Three of the actresses from “Ghost” will be wearing couture gowns designed especially for them from my James George III label. You can also expect to see Most of the Men of “Ghost” wearing tailor made suits from my Alfa line of custom made clothing. I am focusing this year on really growing my Alfa line, which is a web based company geared towards allowing the consumer to have a hand in creating their own clothing that is tailored to fit their measurments. I started this company with my dad James Brown Jr., actor Boris Kodjoe (Resident Evil, Soul Food, The Surrogates) and his Brother Patrick Kodjoe. We also plan on creating a site where a portion of the proceeds go to Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids. Check it out!!!

Do you see your love of fashion and theater merging at some point? Maybe you’ll be a future costume designer?

I could easily see the two worlds merging. Costume design is absolutely in my future, I just don’t know when.

What would be your ultimate dream role?

I have a few ultimate dream roles, I know you asked for one but I’m not following the rules. I am dying to play Tom Collins in “Rent”, Papa Ge in “Once on this Island”, and Bobby in “Company”. Also Tiger Woods in a Tiger Woods Biopic.

Tell us a fun fact not many people know about you…

I am a really good gift giver, my mutant power is surprises and surprise parties. I’m still obsessed with cartoons…Thundercats, Phineas & Ferb, Winks Club, Dragon Ball Z, X-Men, Ben 10. My favorite bands are Country Bands, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. I LOVE TV, DVR was the greatest invention ever (Criminal Minds, CSI: Miami, Revenge, Game of Thrones, Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, Spartacus, Tosh.o, American Dad, Family Guy, South Park, Futurama, Chelsea Lately, True Blood, Homeland, and various reality competition shows) List goes on and on.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

From my dad “Dress the part”. If you wanna be successful, look successful. From my mom “Follow your first instinct”, it’s usually right. And of course LISTEN

Favorite twitters you follow?

@brubendall @ghostbroadway @elliesaabworld @itgetsbetter @andyroddick @danieltosh @themine @chelseahandler and of course @bwaynews

Big thanks to James for taking the time to chat. Be sure to check out Ghost at The Lunt-Fontanne, starting previews March 15th with an opening night set for April 23rd. Follow James on twitter @jamesgeorgeiii and check out


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