'The Oval’s' Daniel Croix on Telling Underrepresented Stories

In 'The Oval,' Croix passionately embodies Jason. Off-screen, Croix uses his talent to illuminate untold stories, crafting narratives that enthrall audiences.

Daniel Croix is a multi-hyphenate highly recognized for his role as Jason, the troubled first son on Tyler Perry’s The Oval. Jason, the character, is chaotic, but Daniel Croix in real life, is a zen lifelong performing arts enthusiast. He moved around a lot growing up, but calls Buffalo, New York home and credits his creative upbringing to the village that raised him. 

“I lived with different parents at different times in my life, and also my grandparents. I was raised in a multi-generational home. I owe a lot to my grandmother, Clarita Delk Henderson, who put me on to the arts.” Daniel tells BET. “She would want to take me to shows. She was a poet. She would introduce me to music, encourage me to read books. It changed my life.” 

His mentorship in professional theater started with the Ujima Theater Company, and continued after high school, when he trained at SUNY Purchase Conservatory and earned his BFA in acting. He got active on the New York City theater scene, appearing in over 40 theatrical productions and eventually found his way to TV and film. These days, when Daniel isn’t on set in New York, Atlanta, LA, or Vancouver, he’s likely on Oʻahu, another place he calls home and the place that inspired Huli, a short film he directed and starred in. It follows a cross-cultural friendship between a Black/mixed boxer (played by Daniel), and a Native Hawaiian boxing coach (played by Elijah Kalā McShane) as they navigate themes of identity and connection to their respective ancestors.

“I’m inspired by the multi-cultural creative community here, the experiences I’ve had of Black and Native Hawaiian allyship and collaboration, and the land itself,” explains Daniel. “There’s a wave happening in Honolulu – some call it a new Hawai‘i renaissance – of distinct, inventive, social/political, film and contemporary arts. It felt natural to be a part of it, and I’m humbled by it.”  

BET caught up with Daniel to chat about the importance of telling diverse stories, how The Oval is more nuanced than people may think, and more. 


BET: Tell me about your movie Huli and the significance of telling this story specifically in the times we're in now.

Daniel Croix: I feel that we are in a Black awakening and an Indigenous awakening. I hadn't seen many conversations between our communities in film – but I was having beautiful conversations in my life and wanted to reflect upon them and document them. The film follows two young men from completely different backgrounds who have come to become friends. There’s some action in the boxing ring, but also explores themes like identity and connection to our ancestors. I owe so much to my friends who wanted to get together and make it.

BET: Independent films have been around since forever, but I feel like now more than ever, people are taking more chances on going independent. Issa Rae recently said that the cancellation of a lot of Black-led shows is inspiring her to go independent. But then I'm thinking about you being on The Oval, in the Tyler Perry universe, as I like to call it—But he’s someone who has been his own thing for a while and has his own studio. What do you make of more people having the gumption to explore doing things independently more and what can these people learn from the Tyler Perry model?

DC: Our ability to tell stories independently is liberating.  I think maybe 15, 20 years ago, access to equipment and technology was more challenging and expensive  – but things have changed.  There’s a lot to learn from Tyler Perry’s model.  We can collaborate with larger companies and studios and simultaneously greenlight ourselves. Look at Issa Rae, Tyler Perry, Ava DuVernay.  Have you seen Origin yet?”

BET: No, I haven't yet, but I heard it was good. 

DC: Origin is a great example of independent creation. It wasn’t financed in a traditional model.  Some of the companies she was working with were taking a long time to fund it, so she went to foundations and worked with private donors to get the movie made.  I loved that. I think the independent space is the ground where a lot sprouts, and it’s also where artists have the most creative control and intimate relationship to the work.

BET:  I have to take it to The Oval. You probably can't say too much, but I have to shoot my shot. What can you tell me about what we can expect for the rest of the season, and specifically, is Gayle ever coming back?

DC: Expect something about Gayle to be resolved!  For the rest of the season, you can expect new relationships to form that you may never have seen coming. There's so much happening in this show!

BET: I know Tyler Perry is controversial and polarizing, and you can say what you want, but he has a wild imagination.

DC: That's what I'm saying! The Oval is a genius satire on American politics and the culture of consumerism and greed. It flips politics on its head into this over-the-top dramatic comedy that is truly like nothing else. It’s so fun!

BET: I can imagine. So, do you think there'll ever be a Jason redemption arc?  

DC: That's my prayer. My prayer is that he gets drenched in the holy water. My prayer is that he comes out and repents for all his sins and he reforms. But it takes two to tango, right? His parents are so unhealed. Those two are crazy. I do think Tyler Perry is channeling a lot - so many things come through him. I see The Oval as a story about trauma being passed on between generations. You see how sick the parents are, you see the grandparents' greed. Jason is the worst case scenario of intergenerational trauma. And so, yes, my dream would be that Jason breaks that familial curse says, "I am a changed man. Let me get into The Oval office and do some good for the country." But I don't know how likely that is.

BET:  It's always funny chatting with actors, the real person, versus seeing the characters that they play. You're really good at playing Jason, though.

DC: Thank you. I mean, it's unlike any role I've ever played before. I've been cast on other shows where I just play an artsy boyfriend. So Jason flipped everything and opened an opportunity to explore a new kind of character. I'm grateful for that challenge. And I'm also excited for the next shows and projects.

BET: Tell me about Manhunt, which is coming up on Apple TV+ in March. 

DC: Manhunt is a historical thriller on  Apple TV+. It chronicles the turning point of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, and the man who is trying to catch the killer. I play a young man, Joseph Burroughs, who gets caught up in the theater as the assassination happens and ends up being brought into the trial. It was really profound. We were shooting in Savannah, Georgia, in period costume. It was amazing. It's a bit harrowing to go back in time, and to see the connections to today.

BET: And Savannah is beautiful, too. Definitely haunted, probably.  

DC: Oh, absolutely. When I stepped onto set, I felt like I was there. It was profound, and sometimes intense to live in a time period where anytime a white person would talk to me, I’d have to divert my eyes and look down - be very small and shrink myself. And I remember at first feeling angry, living in the memory of that world. But I realized that our history is so important to preserve, and I felt gratitude for my ancestors who were able to move forward and find ways of knowing, thriving, and innovating in spite of the systems around them.


BET: We can wrap it up here, but is there anything you want to add?

DC: I feel that the future is in our hands. You see a lot of conversations right now about Hollywood going through a shift where they're removing some DEI work, and that’s terrible, but nothing will stop us from telling our stories. I think the power of our pen can be the source of our thriving and what the future of our industry will be. There’s nowhere to go but up.

I look forward to acting in powerful film and television projects and exploring new roles. I have a dream list of directors who I’d love to work with – a few of them being Jordan Peele, Spike Lee, Ava Duvernay, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Issa Rae, Shonda Rhymes, and many others. I also have a passion for collaborating with the new wave of filmmakers who are following in the footsteps of the greats and bringing their visions to life. Now is the time for uplifting our creative communities, bringing meaningful stories to life, and honoring those who have paved the way for our prosperity.  

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