Tall, outspoken, and handsome!
Those are just three words that can describe one of the newest faces on Season 2 of Insecure. Sarunas J. Jackson, the proud Panamanian-bred, Philly-native who is better known as Dro, Molly's smooth-talking, openly-married childhood friend, stands at a solid 6'8 ½''and definitely made our heads turn. But it wasn't just his athletic build or pearl-clutching sex scenes that had us intrigued. Jackson is a man that knows being successful means using your voice and influence for good and that the path can sometimes lead in you in many different directions.
While his initial rise to fame started with playing college and professional basketball in an international league and even boxing for a while, Jackson eventually found his way into the Hollywood Hills, landing spots in basketball commercials, which further piqued his interest into acting. This would propel him and put him in the position to land other roles in shows like Major Crimes and ultimately the critically acclaimed film Chi-raq, directed by Spike Lee. We got the chance to sit down and talk with Jackson about why it's important to do meaningful work, his ideal woman, and why he's passionate about Lawrence Hive.
What has life been like since being on Insecure?
Busy! I've been busy bouncing from place to place and the attention has been probably the biggest change in my life. The appearances, the interviews, and different things have been fun.
People love the show. I didn't know it would be to this magnitude, I didn't know it would be this impactful and this big. But I'm very grateful for it all, I'm very blessed.
Are there any parallels between you and your character Dro?
Dro, to me, isn't shook by much. He's very level-headed and cool. I might be a little more emotional than him but I still see similarities as far as how we both would handle things. We both are in control of situations, not letting certain situations affect us and not letting other people's emotions rub off on us so easily. Those are definitely the similarities that I find between my character and myself.
In this season, we continue to see the different perspectives and interpretations of sex and race. What do you make of the role shows like Insecure have in helping to drive conversations about race, race relations, sex, and the likes?
As an artist, you always want to be a part of something that has something to say. You don't want to do blind work or thoughtless material. We love anytime when we can spark a conversation between people, you start getting different perspectives. What we do is very influential, it speaks to the masses. Issa (Rae) and the team on Insecure always smoothly massage topics and conversations that need to be had, but they do it in subtle ways. They don't beat you over the head with it (laughs). It's very satisfying to be a part of those types of creatives and that type of world.
Speaking of Issa, she was quoted on the red carpet for saying that she was rooting for “everybody black" at the Emmy's this year. I've also seen you be dubbed as #WokeBae on the internet by some because you don't hesitate to speak out on certain things. How important is it for celebrities and those with influence to show that solidarity for the culture?
If we don't use our platform, you kind of have to ask yourself: what are you doing? If we're going to try to continue to progress, we have to speak our thoughts. What Issa did was beautiful, even though people tried to make it into something else. You can't keep the culture down. We make up only 13% of the U.S. population at most, yet we're one of the most lucrative and influential cultures worldwide but at the same time the most discriminated against.
When we show that support, it's not only better for us, but for everybody. It's just one step closer to unity and equality. Using your voice and using your platform smartly is needed and necessary for the culture. You can't be reckless, but if you're a minority there should be no reason why you're not speaking your mind when you see something wrong or when you want to uplift your culture. It's definitely a responsibility.
Switching gears, the sex scenes you had this season were very explicit and pretty frequent. It definitely caught the attention of a lot of women.
Yeah, you get to know me quickly (laughs). It has been a lot of support, but I like the type of women in the demographic. Educated and intelligent black women, they're very open and conversational. I've had fun with them, it's been entertaining. People are very joke-y about my character's situation. The women have been hilarious.
"I love women that are very determined; they have a passion about something."
Speaking of which, what is it that you look for in a woman?
I love women that are very determined; they have a passion about something. They can hold great conversations, they're very thought-provoking. I like them outspoken, just respectful human beings. I'm also attracted to very nurturing type of women, you know the kind that will rub your back and your head (laughs). I'm very affectionate, so I like that. From a physical standpoint, I like them to have nice style and take care of their hands and feet. A big thing for me too though, is your quality or taste in music and film. That's a big indicator, a lot of times it correlates to where you are in life and whether or not we're going to connect. It's all tied in to me; obviously there are some exceptions though.
Are you dating right now?
I'm not in a relationship, but I'm definitely dating. It's a very specific time in my career, I'm not opposed to having a relationship but I think I'd have to have someone who's very understanding. I've been lucky enough to meet some very good people, I haven't had any bad experiences. You know I'm just keeping things afloat, nothing too extra but definitely open to dating (laughs).
What would be an ideal date for you?
You always have to go somewhere dope to eat; I love food (laughs). I'm very into intimate concerts, like smaller type venues with artists who aren't necessarily commercial but still put out quality type music. That would be fun to me. Good music and good food.
What would you say are some of the biggest life lessons you've learned throughout your journey leading up to now?
I would say allowing myself to get out of my own way and allowing my spiritual evolution to flow instead of forcing issues or certain things because I wanted them so bad. Also, you have to work hard and just be a good person. Those two things are so simple but they go a long way. And surrounding yourself with like-minded people, with good people is very important.
"People that have that same drive, that same determination, it can only improve your life."
#WCW: Tessa Thompson, Issa Rae (Issa BAE), Logan Browning, Antoinette Robertson, and Ashley Blaine Featherson
Now Listening: BOSCO, The Internet, Khalid, Daniel Caesar, Kendrick Lamar, Drake
Top 3 Favorite Drake Projects: If You're Reading This, It's Too Late; Take Care; & So Far Gone
On Working with Issa Rae: "I was a fan of Awkward Black Girl when it came out. And I believe in visualization and the power of attracting things. So I knew I'd be working with someone great. I thought maybe it would happen a little later in life, but I'm definitely grateful to be a part of it all."
On Being an Ambassador to #LawrenceHive: "I won't tolerate any Lawrence slander, that's too much for one man to handle so I had to jump in. I'll have to wear multiple hats once #DroHive gets to kicking off though. I have to stand up for the good guys and I have a very close relationship with Jay Ellis. It's something I'm very passionate about and when it's a passion, it's not work (laughs)."
Image Credits: HBO, Zack Caspary Photography
Shanelle Harris is a Southern-based freelance writer & fashion social media curator. When she's not in class or writing, you can catch her quoting Drake lyrics and spreading #BlackGirlMagic one outfit post at a time. You can follow her on IG: @random__nelle.