Jason Weaver is as kind as he is talented. His genuine nature and authenticity ooze out of him in conversation.
The multifaceted entertainer sat down with The Chicago Defender to discuss the longevity of his legendary career, unshakeable faith and being deeply rooted in family. The Southside Chicago native who prefers the Cubs over the White Sox, Italian Fiesta over Beggars and “The Percolator” over “Footworking,” takes pride in being from our amazing city.
As we talk, Weaver reminisces on purchasing back-to-school gear, Starter jackets and Jordans from the iconic Evergreen Plaza, attending Trinity United Church of Christ and how adolescent friendships have shaped his current role of Shaad on “The Chi.”
Weaver has had a nearly 40-year career in the entertainment industry, which isn’t typical for an African-American actor. So whether you’ve heard his voice singing “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” on the “Lion King” soundtrack, or seen him acting on the 90’s WB sitcom “Smart Guy,” or an all-time favorite as young Michael in “The Jacksons: An American Dream,” then you’re familiar with some aspect of his expansive catalog!
“When I look back over my career, the word that resonates with me the most is endurance. Throughout the course of my career, there have been peaks and valleys. I’ve definitely been met with my fair share of challenges, but with God’s grace, mercy and strength I’ve been able to endure, unlike some of the peers I started out with. I genuinely enjoy what I do as a creative artist,” said Weaver.
Weaver credits God’s grace and mercy as the basis of protection from the ins and outs of the industry.
“At the root of who I am, I am blessed that God knows my heart. Even in times when I was learning life’s hardest lessons, He carefully put people around me to protect me like my mother and other family members,” he said. “In addition to black women I’ve worked with throughout the course of my career like Suzanne De Passe. God placed me around strong and stable black women who did anything and everything to protect me.”
“I have a responsibility as a black man and black artist, to tell the truth through my art,” said Weaver, whom young industry hopefuls often approach for advice. “When preparation meets opportunity, you cannot be afraid to step in the door. We’re all blessed with a gift. There’s not one person on Earth that hasn’t been given something that they can use to set themselves apart.”
“The issue is people are reluctant to dive in head first once they find their purpose. Whether it be fear of rejection, being told you’re not good enough, the disappointment of people not recognizing your gift, your purpose lies on the other side of fear,” he said.
Weaver’s current work includes his portrayal of Shaad on Showtime’s The Chi.
“I resonate with Shaad’s character so deeply because he is a layered individual like many of our brothers dealing with the criminal justice system. These men are trying to reenter society, gain employment and become upstanding, law-abiding citizens,” said Weaver.
“I have so many friends that I’ve grown up with who are currently dealing with this, whether navigating in the system or out. I take those emotions and feelings, and I put them into the character of Shaad, which is why his character is received so well by our fans. His character is built around real people,” he said.
Lastly, we love a cultured man.
It was exciting to find out that Jason is a true foodie.
In 2008, he added the title of culinary chef to his resume graduating first in his class from Le Cordon Bleu. “I’m trained in all cuisines,” he notes. However, a true city boy at heart, his favorite comfort food includes making fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, greens, yams and more.
We are so proud of all the success Chicago native Jason Weaver has attained and look forward to supporting him on season 6 of The Chi.