Jason Dirden Lands “A Raisin In The Sun” on Broadway
Jason Dirden has acting in his blood. From his father, to his brother, as well as his other three siblings, all of them act, and Jason, humbly, gets paid for it.
It was 2013, about a week before the fourth of July, and Dirden was in LA at a friend’s house. When his New York agent called, he knew it was either a job opportunity or he got the job. Dirden had auditioned for a role in A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway and got it. A Raisin On The Sun celebrated it’s opening night Thursday, April 3, 2014. He now gets to perform next to Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, LaTanya Richardson, the voice behind Disney’s first African American princess, Anika Noni Rose, Sophie Okonedo, and Sean Patrick Thomas in this star-studded, ensemble cast.
Before A Raisin In The Sun, Dirden, a graduate of Morehouse College, had also done guest appearances on Tyler Perry sitcoms and a different production of A Raisin In The Sun in LA. “I moved out to LA two years ago to play the same role in a production based in LA directed by Phylicia Rashād. It was a great show and she did a wonderful job directing the show. So, I kind of have a background with the show, which helped me in the audition process and made me comfortable with the character that I’m playing.”
Dirden says he prepared himself by researching the time period and understanding how that translates into the 2014 language. He even studied things as simple as how people approach one another. “Even though the people are similar today compared to the 1950s it’s a different time period so you have to know how that translates in the 50’s versus the 2000s. It’s a little different; it’s a little more subtle. People don’t say certain things in public, people aren’t necessarily upfront with each other as they would be today. So you research the time period and as many historical facts as you can that’s being brought up within the dialogue of the play.”
Many are inspired by the greats of this generation, and Denzel Washington is one of the biggest, most influential actors of this generation, that everyone dreams of working with, and learning from. “He has some of the best work ethic that I have ever been around…I’ve never observed him taking short cuts,” says Dirden. ” He gives the people what they paid for. His work ethic is just really good. Once he warms up to you, he’s just one of the guys…He’s really good. He was one of my idols and still is. I’ve often imitated him growing up, and to be standing across stage from him is a career dream comes true. I cannot believe I’m up here with Denzel Washington sayings these lines and getting into a fight scene with him.”
Dirden expressed some of the lessons and life facts that he has learned about confidence and experience thus far, saying “New York is where you learn how to act and LA is where you get paid for it…As an actor you have to have a fine line between confidence and ego. Sometimes you can step over into that ego, self-absorbed line, but you have to be confident enough to say, hey, no matter who is in this room with me, no matter who’s doing the show, this film, this play, I belong here just as much as they do, because they hired me. It doesn’t benefit you to feel insecure about what you’re bringing; you have to be just as confident as the other person who has thirty years in this business. You have to see yourself as being just as important, as far as telling your side of the story as well as they are.”
A Raisin In The Sun is running for a limited time on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on 47th Street, so if you’re in New York anytime soon, go to www.broadway.com/shows/raisin-sun/ to get your tickets! And if you’d like to keep up with Mr. Dirden, be sure to follow him on Twitter @JasonDirden.