More popularly known as JTG, one-half of the WWE tag-team Cryme Tyme, Jayson Paul is a lifelong fan of pro-wrestling. After spending about eight years in WWE, Paul has published two books, Damn! Why Did I Write This Book? and Damn! Why Did I Write This Book Too (How to play The Game), is building an app, and is transitioning into film and television acting. Wanting to learn about his work, Paul took time from his hectic schedule to allow me to interview him for Sequart.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, when did you know you wanted to pursue a career in entertainment?
Jayson “JTG” Paul: From the early age of two, I knew I wanted to be a professional wrestler.
Yanes: Across all forms of media, who are the performers and creators you think influenced you the most?
Paul: I will say that Michael Jackson definitely influenced me with his creativity, Bret Hart with his confidence, The Rock with his charisma, and Jeff Hardy with his originality.
Yanes: In high school you were into acting and took drama classes. How do you think these classes prepared you for your career? Given that drama and acting programs are under constant threats of being cut, could you take a moment to discuss why these programs are important to people?
Paul: Acting and drama are very important to individuals who are passionate about the arts because it gives children and teenagers an outlet to express themselves creatively at an early age. I graduated from John Dewey high school and my school was really big in the arts. Spike Lee also graduated from my high school, so imagine if drama and acting classes were cut while he was attending high school? There would have been no Do the Right Thing. Can you image a world without that movie? That’s not a world I want to live in.
Yanes: What are some ways that being a pro-wrestler has made you a better storyteller?
Paul: Pro-Wrestling is all about telling a story. When you’re putting together your match, there is a beginning, middle, and an end, with a underlying theme. It taught me to capture my audiences’ attention from the start, hold their attention, and give them an ending that they will never forget.
Yanes: Though WWE is still the biggest company in pro-wrestling, there are other wrestling organizations growing across the world. What do you think about this new global territory system that is developing?
Paul: To be honest, I’m clueless to what’s going on in the independent circuit except for what I see on social media. I hope that another wrestling organization grows…and fast, it sucks for the wrestling business to have one main company.
Yanes: You’ve written two books – Damn! Why Did I Write This Book? and Damn! Why Did I Write This Book Too (How to play The Game). Though these books are non-fiction, how do you think writing them made you a better storyteller?
Paul: I have never written a book or even a chapter to a book before Damn! Why Did I Write This Book? LOL. After writing the first one, I knew story telling was a untapped talent and it gave me the confidence to write another one.
Yanes: You have transitioned to Hollywood by being in a few films already. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered while moving from wrestling to film/television acting?
Paul: My size, I’m right in the middle. I’m not humongous and I’m not the average size so it’s hard to cast me
Yanes: Despite calls for more diversity in movies and television, there still aren’t a lot of roles for black men. And those roles that do exist tend to pigeon hole black men into a few caricatures. What are your thoughts on this? And, moreover, how do you approach getting roles?
Paul: I believe you hit the nail on the head when it comes to Hollywood. As a black man of African descent you kind of are hip to rules of Hollywood, it’s their rules. You either play by their rules or create your own content.
Yanes: In an interview with Jim Ross you mentioned that you are involved in entrepreneurship. What are some of the entrepreneurial ventures you are working on?
Paul: At the moment I’m focused on releasing a new social media app this spring.
Yanes: Finally, what are some entertainment projects you are currently working on that fans can look forward to?
Paul: At the moment, I’m just doing indy shows solo and as Cryme Tyme. My main focus right now is hitting my launch date for this spring.