In today’s ABOVE AVERAGE interview we are delighted to present Mr. James Bland to you. James’ story is one of passion, drive and faith. He is the best example of what can happen if you challenge yourself to be great and defy conventional ideology. At the modest age of 25, James has expanded his capabilities on screen and behind the scenes to directing, producing, writing and acting. His inspiration is to show the world that we can set our personal expectations as high as we desire. With that freedom, James teaches us how we can create doors as opposed to being confined to waiting for them to open. James Bland shows us how he owned the “I” in his destiny.
MultiThousandaires: Can we talk about your experience going from a more corporate study in business to a more creative study in acting and production? What were your thoughts with regards to making such a bold decision?
James: Upon graduating from high school, I knew I was going to college at Florida A&M University (FAMU). I wanted to attend a HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and I had a Bright Futures Scholarship that was only valid for Florida Colleges and Universities, so FAMU was my first and only choice. I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to take, and FAMU’s School of Business and Industry was highly acclaimed, so I figured business would be a good choice for a major. I’m really glad I made that decision, because even though I’m working in a more creative field now, my business background serves as my foundation for putting the nuts and bolts of a project together.
I’ve never had a problem with the creative aspect. I’m naturally a creative and very visual person. I’ve been writing poetry and short stories since I was a kid and I was writing, directing and starring in plays that I produced in high school… so that aspect came natural. Being a business student taught me how to plan, budget, execute and market, which are elements that are essential to effectively push a creative vision forward.
It was around the beginning of my junior year in college when I really realized I wanted to pursue a career in film. I had been auditioning for student films at Florida State’s Film School and their projects gave me my first look into the world of filmmaking. I eventually started working on more and more student film projects in various capacities from actor to producer and I quickly realized that filmmaking was consuming a lot of my time and I had a lot on my plate in college. I was a member of a fraternity, had community service every Saturday, was involved in several clubs and organizations on campus, and I was the Student Body Vice-President. Oh yeah, and I was carrying about 15 credit hours a semester. Yet, I always made time for film. That’s kind of how I knew it was a passion. I think we as people make time for things we love no matter how busy we are. So, I guess it’s safe to say I fell in love with film.
I think we as people make time for things we love no matter how busy we are.
MultiThousandaires: And I understand you came to California to pursue your passion in film. Tell me what made your journey different than that of many writers, actors, producers and entertainers that have come to Hollywood with big dreams. Was it anything like you expected it to be?
James: Thus far my journey in LA has been good and I’m in a place in life where I’m really enjoying the journey. I can honestly say I feel aligned with my destiny and I know that I’m on the right path. It feels right. I feel myself coming into my birthing season. It’s like when a woman gets pregnant she has to go though a process before she has the baby. The first step is conception. I conceived the dream to be an actor and filmmaker years ago. Over time it’s grown and matured. I’ve had to nurture it and carry it inside of me. I didn’t allow nay-sayers or doubters to abort the dream. I kept it close to my heart and I’ve been determined to go full term with this pregnancy. I don’t want a pre-mature baby. I don’t want overnight success. I recognize that the process is essential to my growth and development.
As I’ve gotten closer to my due date, I’ve began to experience birth pains. Through out this journey I’ve been robbed at gun point. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve slept on friends’ couches. I’ve lived in a two bedroom apartment with five other people. I’ve been without a car for six months and forced to ride the bus everywhere. But, I’ve also had many successes. In the two and half years I’ve been in LA I’ve worked on four major feature films at Sony Screen Gems. I’ve written and directed an award winning short film titled Cocoa Love that aired on national TV. I’ve done my share of student films and I’m currently developing several web series. I’ve experience so much favor and I give God all of the glory.
James: Ultra sound glimpse… I like that. Yes, it’s safe to say Cocoa Love is only the beginning. There’s still more to come even from that project. After it aired on BET, I started making plans to expand the project into a series. The cast of Cocoa Love is extremely talented and audiences want to see more from them.
Right now, I’m really focusing on two web series that I’m developing under my production company Hometeam Entertainment, along with my producing partner Vanessa Baden. The first series is a comedy called FAIL, which chronicles the random misadventures of six college students who form a study group to pass a class they never really study for. The series stars myself, Vanessa Baden, Andrew Bachelor, Jeryn Mays, Tristin Mays, Whitney Reed and Giovanni Watson.
The second series is a show that was inspired while shooting FAIL. Andrew and Giovanni, who are both FAIL actors, are honestly two of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. I thought they were so hilarious and unbelievably talented that I decided to develop a show around them. The show is called Bach and Gio, and it’s a comedy about two roommates who find themselves in constant conflict as a result of one of their obsession with social media.
Both series are set to launch this spring and they’ll keep me pretty busy since I’m writing, directing, producing and acting in both projects. So, to answer your second question — no you haven’t seen the best of James Bland.
James: I would say if you’re seriously going to let the guy on your left talk you out of following your dream, then you’re not cut out to make it in Hollywood anyway. Hollywood is a place where you have to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re talented, beautiful, and worthy of success because it’ll probably be the last time you hear those words spoken all day. You really have to want it for yourself and you can’t let the first person to tell you it’s impossible to turn you around. In fact you need to adopt the idea of possibility — which is simply the belief that anything is possible.
I often tell people about my love for bumblebees because I feel that they (bumblebees) represent the idea of possibility. It has been said that according to science, physically, engineeringly, and aerodynamically speaking, it is IMPOSSIBLE for the bumblebee to fly. Everything about the bumblebee, its shape, size and weight compared to the wing-lift ratio capabilities, indicate that it should not be able to fly at all. Yet, by some force within itself, the bumblebee finds the audacity to fly and proves that the impossible is what nobody can do until somebody does.
I really think the key is just deciding what it is you want out of life and sticking to that conviction. It’s about commitment and those who find the courage and strength to stay committed are those who make it. So dig deep, work hard, and leave the rest to God.
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