Now that television’s spring programming season has ended and must-see-TV is on summer break, viewers are looking to the fall in the hopes that their favorite shows will be back. Networks can be finicky and it’s hard to say what will or won’t be signed off on for another season.
One goodie I’m hoping to see again is a new show called Reed Between the Lines that aired on Black Entertainment Television (BET) in October 2011 featuring our girl Tracee Ellis Ross from Girlfriends and America’s favorite son from the mid-80’s classic The Cosby Show: Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
Reed Between the Lines, created by Kellie Griffin and co-produced by Ross and Warner, has the makings to be another hit series in African American households. Reminiscent of a modern-day Cliff and Clair Huxtable (kind of, sort of), Drs. Carla and Alex Reed are madly in love, highly educated, and adamant about bringing their kids up to be bright, responsible, and morally- and socially-conscious people.
But what had me smiling from ear-to-ear were the adorable, talented young actors cast as the couple’s children. Nadji Jeter and Zoe Soul as the competitive (yet supportive at the end of the day) fraternal boy-girl twins Keenan and Kaci bring a unique component to the show. The chemistry is seamless to the point where I wondered if the actors were related or had been friends before the show. Amazingly, they even look a bit alike. (Little Zoe Hendrix plays the cute but crafty Alexis Reed.)
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Nadji and I jumped at it. In some respects, I think of him as a member of the new generation of emerging, young TV actors. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Nadji plays the role of Keenan with the kind of wit and humor that comes across as natural talent. The character loves fashion, he thinks he’s “fly” and he’s quite comedic.
Here, he talks about his entrance into the acting business, his love for comedy, and Michael Jackson.
SW: How did you become involved in the entertainment industry?
NJ: I started by dancing in Atlanta. I was the little mascot for the Atlanta Hawks. I was Little Harry. And then I started dancing for and with R&B singer Usher’s Camp New Look Foundation. I was the first alumni kid and in 2006 I performed at his gala event in New York, which was for big-hitters like Quincy Jones, Missy Elliott, Sean Combs and a lot of other great legends. And they were all telling me, “You are so talented. You’re like a young Michael Jackson.” They were telling me I should move out to California so I could pursue more adventures. So, in 2007, me and my Mom made that move to California and ever since then I’ve been loving acting and pursuing my career.
SW: What advice can you give to other teens looking to break into acting?
NJ: Never give up, keep God first and stay humble. The main key is to never give up no matter how many times you get turned down. If you have a passion for it and you love it with all your heart, just keep striving for it. Never look back and never back down. Just keep going.
SW: What are you more passionate about between acting and dancing?
NJ: Acting is my passion and dancing is how I got my start so they are both my love. But acting is my wife.
SW: Your character on Reed Between the Lines is so funny and it seems like such a good fit for you. Did you take acting classes to prepare for the role?
NJ: Yes, I’ve taken acting classes and I continue to work on my acting craft. But my character Keenan was easy for me to play because there are so many similarities between Keenan and me. Being a regular teenage boy and going through the adolescent stage and being into style…it was a lot of fun and easy to play Keenan.
SW: Did you audition for the role or were you selected?
NJ: A little bit of both but ultimately I went through the audition process.
SW: Do you see yourself acting for the next 10 years or is there another area you’d like to explore?
NJ: Yes, I see myself acting but I would also like to get into the music industry and also write, produce and direct movies. I want to do it all.
SW: Who are some of your favorite actors?
NJ: Adam Sandler, Will Smith, The Wayans Brothers, Eddie Murphy, and a lot of the great comedians. I am a huge comedy fan.
SW: A lot of people who watch the show have commented that the Keenan and Kaci characters have really good interaction and are a lot of fun to watch. Did you and Zoe Soul, who plays Kaci, know each other before you starting working on set together?
NJ: Yes, I met Zoe in 2007. We were on the same dance team. It’s great working with her. She’s a lot of fun.
SW: In the age of technology, do you think it’s easy to promote oneself if, let’s say, one didn’t have a publicist or an agent?
NJ: By all means, technology can be helpful. If you have the right team, and you know how to work computers and you know how to create promo advertising on Facebook or other social networks, I say just go ahead. Go all in, but just make sure it’s appropriate.
SW: How did you learn to dance?
NJ: At age 5, I watched a lot of New Edition and Michael Jackson music videos and I went in the closet, put on a 3-piece suit and my Mom’s fedora, and just started dancing in the mirror. I just started mimicking Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown.
SW: What do you love most about being on Reed Between the Lines
NJ: Comedy. I love doing improv, being a fool, and making people laugh!
Since this interview, it has been reported that Reed Between the Lines will return for another season sometime in the fall. Currently, Jeter is in Boston taping Grown-Ups 2 starring Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and Kevin James.