Interview by Christine Thompson
Selfie Dad is will be released June 19th to a wide audience online, and we had the chance to speak with the lead actor, Michal Jr., who portrays a man torn between his dreams and his family. A faith-based comedy, Selfie Dad joins the pantheon of films produced for a Christian audience designed to also appeal to a broader audience. Michael Jr. talks to us about his comedy career, the film, and a project near and dear to his heart that brings comedic relief and hope to a marginalized society – the homeless population.
AMFM Magazine: What was your impetus far getting on board the Selfie Dad project, and how much of it was improvised? It Seemed to me that there was a lot of “you” in this.
Micheal Jr.: I read the script, and when I met the director, we really hit it off, and he was flexible enough for me to put my signature on it, so to speak, so on some of the scenes I could own it. Some of the scenes he let me improvise and create right there on the spot. The police scene, for example, was one we improvised. I was very excited about that
AMFM Magazine: Saw that. With what’s going on in the world right now, we need a little levity. I don’t know how this is going to be received with all the chaos out there.
Micheal Jr.: I actually just released a YouTube video about one of my police experiences where they held a gun to my head and pulled the hammer back, and all of that really not cool stuff. But it’s a video of forgiveness and letting go of those things and what we can do now.
I think it would be so dope if we made it a requirement that rookie police officers and veteran police officers at least 7 to 10 times a year should go into the communities that they serve and have a meal at someone’s home with a family. Ideally a family that doesn’t look like them. It changes when you know someone, you can kind of drop your shoulders a little bit.
AMFM Magazine: That’s a great idea! Break bread with someone to get to know them. So what message do you think this movie can carry forward?
Micheal Jr.: At the beginning of the movie, the character Ben Marcus is really involved with himself. Then he realizes that even though he’s getting what he wants, he’s losing what he needs.
So right now, a lot of people are thinking about themselves, like the officers we were just talking about. If they could just think about the outcome, that they are trying to protect and serve the people, it should be all people. If they could just pull back a little. That’s what this character does, he pulls back and says “wait, what can I really do to help my family and help myself?” That’s a big deal, not just a huge revelation for the character that I play, but it’s also been a big revelation in my life as well.
One time I was performing in a club just outside of Los Angeles, and right before I got on stage, I did a little prayer, and I actually had a change of mindset about comedy. Normally, when a comedian takes the stage it’s all about getting laughs, whether we articulate it or not. But right before I got on the stage, my mindset shifted to “How can I give people the opportunity to laugh.”
That little bitty change made such a difference. I go on stage that night, I’m much more relaxed, and I had a great set. So as I leave the club that night, I see a homeless man across the street. Well, I had never seen a homeless guy near this club, ever – and I played this club many times. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t there before, it just means before my mindset was how to I get laughs from people, instead of how do I give them an opportunity to laugh. So when I changed that mindset, I asked a different question and I got different answers.
That’s what happened to Selfie Dad. When people watch this on June 19th, they’re going to see him asking different questions from the beginning of the movie, and how he’s getting different answers.
And if we ask our communities as a whole what can I give, instead of what can.I get, it will change the game significantly.
AMFM Magazine: That’s a great thought, and one of the tenets of Christianity. So what do you think is the takeaway from this film, for you personally?
Micheal Jr.: Yes, there are a few things. Here’s what happens whenever someone laughs, their heart is opened up. And when their heart is opened up, you can make a deposit. The thing that people need to be aware of is no matter when you laugh, there can be a deposit made, so you want to make sure that what you’re taking in something in ear gate and your eye gate, that’s actually going to help you. because now it’s in your heart, because you just had an experience around it.
That’s why you have certain songs from 12 or 15 years ago just show up out of nowhere when you are driving down the street, just popping out of your head. So you have to be careful about what you put in there. So a lot of cool things can be inputted into people because you’re laughing.
But one of the big takeaways for me, is there’s a scene at the end, where the character, is talking about a revelation. I actually break character there and I’m speaking directly to the camera. When people watch this they’ll see me go from Ben Marcus the character to Micheal Jr. It’s a subtle move, but what he’s talking about in the movie is actually what’s happening in my life. When people see that I want them to know that’s a real scene, I am not acting. In fact, if anything I blew the line.
AMFM Magazine: Can I ask more about the shift in your comedy awareness?
Micheal Jr.: Yes, so back to that homeless man outside the club. A few days after I saw him outside of the club, a lady in the autograph line randomly asked me “have you considered doing comedy at a homeless shelter?”
I said no, but I called her a few days later and we did a show on skid row, and we had a great time. There are thousands of people on skid row at any given time. So I founded a non profit called Red Blueprint and we go to places like that and make laughter commonplace in uncommon places.
AMFM Magazine: That sounds like a calling
Micheal Jr.: I thought it was a slogan. But you’re right, it’s a calling. Laughter is like a medicine, we need to take it to the sick.
AMFM Magazine:: What do you have coming up next?
Micheal Jr.: I’m working on the last chapter of a book. You know, comedy is a vehicle not a destination, so at the end of July we’ll be releasing course called “Funny How Life Works.”
It’s a course that will help people understand their purpose and what they should be doing with their lives. I’m very excited about that, If you want more information on that go to MichaelJr.com.
We are super excited about Selfie Dad. It’s going to be on Redbox On Demand, iTunes, Amazon Prime. So you get to see a theatrical level movie that was going to be in theaters at home. It’s coming to your house and you don’t need to spend $94 on popcorn.