Chosen Jacobs is only 16 and moved to Hollywood two years ago, but he's already had the career many actors dream of for years. He's landed a handful of roles on major television shows, including Hawaii Five-0 on CBS. But he's already gotten his big break in one of the most anticipated horror films of the year — It. The story of an evil clown terrorizing kids in a small town in Maine was written by the master of horror, Stephen King, and was famously made into a miniseries in 1990. Jacobs plays Mike Hanlon, who is supported by a cast of unknowns that will definitely be stars after this film hits theaters on Friday.
We had to know more about Chosen. In his first BET.com interview, he talks his breakout role, music, and advice to young people who want to be in Hollywood.
You are only 16, but do you feel like It is a breakthrough moment for you?
Definitely. This is one of my first major films. Just to see how people have reacted to it and received it is pretty awesome.
What was the audition process like?
Actually, I was the last cast. Strangely enough, usually it takes five or six auditions or so to get booked, but with this, I only had to do one audition, which was awesome. I went in for a regular audition, they didn’t tell me what it was for but they just sent me the script. I auditioned and they called me, I think, later that week, and told me I had gotten the role. I was very blessed to play this character
What were your thoughts when you first read the script?
I already knew about Stephen King. I knew of his other works like Carrie, but when I got the script, I was very excited because, just choosing characters that you want to play, I loved the depth of Mike Hanlon, because he’s just kind of a sweet, backbone type of guy. He’s the best friend that you’d want. He’s the guy you bring back to moms. I appreciated being able to play that character.
This is a horror film, so what was the vibe like on the set?
For the first two months or so, we had the scenes where we we just having fun. We hadn’t seen Pennywise. They kept him from us until our first scene, so it started out really funny and just cracking jokes. As soon as Pennywise came to set, it was just darker and scarier. it was a pretty drastic change.
Again, you are only 16 and not from Los Angeles, so how did you get into Hollywood?
I was born in Massachusetts. I have family up there, and then we moved to Atlanta when I was young. I was primarily raised in Atlanta and we were just doing music and acting. As we kind of progressed, we we like, ‘Alright, if we want to take the next step, let’s go out to California.’ My mom, she supported me and allowed me to come out to L.A., and we’ve just been there auditioning ever since. I've been here about two and a half years.
You said you are also a musician. What kind of music?
I play guitar and piano. If I had to say genre-wise, it would be a mix between R&B and hip-hop. In the sense of lyrically, it would be more R&B-ish. But beat-wise, you get a lot more of that 808 feel of hip-hop.
Who’s on your playlist right now?
Bruno Mars is my favorite male singer right now. Just as a performer, he’s so next level. He reminds me of James Brown a lot. J. Cole, Jay-Z's 4:44 was amazing. Corinne Bailey Rae is a singer who I like a lot — but right now my top guy is Bruno. He did so good at the BET Awards. It was amazing!
Do you have a dream role?
One role I wanted very badly was Black Panther, but my man Chadwick Boseman went and took it. I wanted to play that when I’m older, but hopefully by the time I’m older, I might be able to play it.
What advice do you have for young people who want to make it in Hollywood?
Anybody that you look up to, they’re no better or no more unique than you are. I think that’s a misconception we have that, ‘Oh, they must have something special about them that’s different from me.’ You just have to make a decision to say, ‘Hey, this is something I want to do. I love it and I’m willing to put in the time in for it,’ and just keep striving for your goals, even when people may tell you you’re not going to make it. Even if no one says it but it’s not happening for you yet. Success comes to those who are willing to hold on. Persistence is key. Talent is cool, but persistence beats out talent. Find something you’re passionate about and just keep pursuing it, relentlessly.
What kind of fear factor is the audience going to get from It?
Y’all are going to be terrified. I think the reason why the film is so scary is because there’s so much comedy and romance in it, you don’t know when to expect the fear. It’s not just going to be an hour and some change of just scare, scare, scare. It’s going to be joke, scare, love and scare. Also, the effects that they use and the genius of Bill Skarsgard, he’s such a fantastic actor. No one could’ve done Pennywise any better than him, it’s going to be very thrilling. It’s a complete movie. It has a lot layers and a little bit of everything for everyone.
It is in theaters Friday.
Speaking of Bruno Mars, check him out at the BET Awards in the video, above.
(Photo: Brooke Palmer/ WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT)