Sitting in the dimly lit video journalism studio, Jackson Abohasira holds a cup of coffee, and leisurely leans back in his chair. Abohasira is very friendly, and has an aura of confidence about him. He is admired by his peers, like Senior Madeleine Hughes who says, “He’s one of my best friends, and I do look up to him as an actor. Especially the work he did over the summer in B.F.’s. It was like one of the first times that I really noticed what he was able to bring to the table as an artist.” From this interview, it is apparent just how passionate Abohasira is about acting, as well as his other interests.
S: When did your love of acting begin?
“It started when I was young. I always liked performing for people, and making people laugh. Maybe back in the 6th grade I guess.”
S: Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
“One of the biggest influences I guess is Mr Greene. He really introduced me into high school theatre. But then also our MIFA coach, Bailey Boudreau. He has taught me just about everything I know about the craft, so probably the two of them.”
S: Is there an actor or actress who influences you? If so, who?
“One of my favorite actors is Daniel Day Lewis. I think he is just remarkable. I’m also a huge fan of Matthew Mcconaughey’s more recent things. He had a terrible early career, but his performance in Interstellar is one of my favorites.”
S: What is the best part of the WBHS theatre program?
“I think we’re a real accepting group. We have a whole lot of kids all from different backgrounds and places, and we all meet together because we love the same thing. We also have one of the largest programs. We expand from film to competitive theatre, to main stage shows to black box shows..not many other high school programs have such a wide reach that we do. We also have great instructors. We’re just very blessed.”
S: What has been your favorite play that you have done at West Bloomfield?
“Last year we did You Can’t Take It With You, which was a comedy. I got to play a large Russian man; an immigrant to the United States and it was incredible. I had chest hair, I had a beard, I got to throw people around like rag dolls…another one of my favorites was Strange Kindness, which was our MIFA play last year. That was when I really got serious about acting acting, and I had to play someone with Aspergers, eating disorders, nervous ticks, and it was just interesting to get into a character like that. But I’d say those were the performances that left the biggest impact on me.”
S: You also act outside of school, most recently in the play B.F.’s. How did you get involved in this play?
“I had auditioned for a professional theatre company in Detroit, and I had gotten cast in their show called B.F.’s. It was about two closeted gay best friends growing up in the 80’s. They had to learn how to cope with their homosexuality, accepting themselves, and getting others to accept them.”
S: How was that experience for you?
“It was really a difficult process I guess. Especially being a straight man myself. Having to relate to someone like that is very challenging. Being in professional theatre is a lot different because with high school plays… they give you like a month and a half to memorize and get your blocking and characterization done, but with this professional theatre we got it all up and running in a month, and it was a two man show. It was me and Maxim Vinogradov, a former WB student doing the show. We had memorized, learned our blocking for a two hour show with just the two of us within weeks. So, it was a lot faster paced, and a lot more difficult, a lot less hand holding I guess it was more on us than on anyone else.”
S: You are also involved in MIFA. What makes MIFA so different from the regular productions here?
“MIFA is the closest thing you’ll get to being with a professional theatre company, because we tour, we build our own sets the day of competitions. we go all around the state…it’s very professional. You also only have like a week and a half to learn all your lines, and memorize, and get ready for some hard work. It’s fun. All the other shows separates the actors and the techies, but the MIFA one is different because we’re all just one big team and we all work together to achieve the common goal of hopefully bringing home the trophy. It’s more intensive, you learn more, and it’s more fun.”
S: What are your plans for after high school? “My plan is to attend a four year acting school. All depends on how auditions go in February. I have unifieds where I’ll be auditioning for a panel of schools..Juilliard, Marymount, DePaul, Pace, LIPA, Point Park, and plenty others, so we’ll see where it goes.
S: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
“That’s a hard question to ask an actor because he never knows. I hope to be seeing myself working on films, and keep doing professional theatre. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s what I hope I can continue to do for the rest of my life.”
S: Do you have any other interests besides acting?
“Yeah actually. I have a love of film. I’ve directed a couple films. I shot one over the summer, which is coming out soon, and I shot Zukerberg: The Real Story last year which me and Max again directed. It won a couple of awards. I also have an upcoming project, a directing project, It’s called Just a Cup of Coffee, so other than acting I love directing films.”
S: What will you take away from your time at WB?
“I think I’ll learn what it’s like to work with a team. MIFA has taught me how you have to rely on everyone and trust everyone to achieve your common goal, and just doing the regular shows with Mr. Greene. I learned a whole lot about independence, and learning things on your own time, and making sure that you have everything ready so you can work with the team and not be the one holding everyone else back. Also directing films has taught me how to be patient, because film shoots take hours. I’ve done a couple where I’ve shot for thirteen hour days. So I guess patience, hardwork, and teamwork is what I will carry with me to college and other future activities.”
S: What advice do you have for the younger theatre kids here?
“Stick with it. Don’t be shy. My freshman year, of course, you don’t get the greatest parts and it’s kind of discouraging. Don’t get discouraged. Keep with it because you will get those bigger parts eventually if you work hard enough. I would always advise anyone to audition for MIFA because it’s the greatest single thing I’ve done in high school. I learned so much from it. Also, get involved with the video program. We have a great one. So expand your horizons with acting, and do other things like Forensics and MIFA, Film Fest…they’re all great programs so get your hands in every pot.”
It is evident that Abohasria’s talent will carry him far. His determination is also recognized by others like Junior Natalie Herman. “Jackson is a creative and open minded person who is always looking out for people, and has the best attitude when it comes to theatre.” Abohasira has contributed greatly to the arts programs at West Bloomfield, and whether he chooses a career in cinematography, or in theatre, he will be successful.
For more on Jackson:
To watch his short film Zuckerberg: The Real Story click here:
To watch his interview on B.F.’s click here: