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We Absolutely Love The Way Jason Weaver Just Shouted Out His Mama

There's just something about a man who makes the time to affirm his mama...

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I appreciate Very Smart Brothas and their content. To this day, one of my favorite pieces by them, is "Clifton Powell Hall of Fame for Role Players in The Realm of Black Excellence at the Cinematic Arts". If you know anything about Black movies—including the ones that never made it to the movie theatre—you know that Clifton Powell is a true treasure (he is hilarious in the movie 35 & Ticking). Full stop. Well, someone who is a younger version of that to me is Jason Weaver.

He played little Michael Jackson (quite well, I might add) in The Jacksons: An American Dream. He was a regular in the series Thea. He was Earnest in Drumline and Teddy in ATL. Three movies that you may or may not be familiar with are He's Mine Not Yours, Love for Sale and Dysfunctional Friends; I really liked him in those as well. I think what I enjoy most about Jason's acting chops is he has a way of making you wonder if he's actually following a script or making lines up as he goes a long. That kind of relatability is something that I dig in an actor, though. Plus, Jason can sing. Don't play. Who remembers "Love Ambition (Call on Me)"?

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But perhaps his greatest claim to fame (at least thus far) is landing the role of young Simba in the original TheLion King. Well, kinda. The reason why "kinda" qualifies is because it was actually Jonathan Taylor Thomas who had the speaking parts of little Simba; what Jason did was sing young Simba's songs ("I Just Can't Wait to Be King" and "Hakuna Matata"). Again, quite well, I might add.

Yeah, Jason is necessary to the culture. However, what made me take this little stroll down memory lane was checking out an interview on Comedy Hype that appeared in my YouTube feed yesterday. It featured Sir Weaver. By the time I was done checking out the nine-minute bit, I hit up my editor and was like, "Can I please pen something about a few things that Jason Weaver just said?" Although he was simply sharing his experiences, in the midst of it all, I found about four solid gems that I thought you might like; especially one in particular.

Why Wasn’t Jason the “Entire” Simba?

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According to Jason, while he was shooting The Jacksons film and performing "Who's Loving You?", Elton John was there. Jason sang the song live on set which ended up becoming an unofficial audition. Elton told Jason's mom that he had been hired by Disney to provide the music for an upcoming film, he thought that Jason had an interesting voice and extended the offer for him to officially audition. Jason accepted.

"I remember I went into the studio, sang the song…and getting like an overwhelmingly positive response from the directors and the producers. They had a quick pow-wow for a minute…and then they discussed offering me the speaking role."

So, why didn't Jason get the partner? Now before Black Twitter gets to poppin' (cause y'all know the kind of power that you have, right? Popeyes can definitely vouch for it!), basically it was because the music team wasn't aware that Jonathan had already been officially offered the position, 2-3 days before.

"So, for anybody who has always wondered that and was curious as to why that didn't happen, that was the reason why. It wasn't because Disney didn't offer it."

All these years later, how does Jason feel about how it all played out? He's not salty about it. Not at all. He continues to be mad appreciative for the opportunity. In part, due to the next part of this piece.

Did Disney Jack Jason in Any Way? (You Know, Financially)

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"To this day, it's the gift that keeps on giving," Jason says with a smile on his face. "They compensated me well for it. The deal that I worked out with Disney is f—kin' awesome."

(By the way, I personally know a lot of artists. They can't even remotely say the same about the deals that they've made with companies over the years.)

As the interviewer breaks in and says, "'Cause I just want to mention that the movie made $968,000,000 in 1994…so, I would hope that they took care of you."

Jason nodded in agreement and then says, "Naw they did. I have no complaints about Disney whatsoever as it relates to compensation or residual income from any of the projects that I've been directly involved with."

Why exactly is that, Jason?

Jason Provides Some Really Solid Industry Advice

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"Quick industry s—t 101. It all depends on how you negotiate your deal. People get f—ed over because they allow themselves to get f—ed over. Because they don't have proper representation; they don't know about their business; they're not reading their contracts; they're not educating themselves as to what they're getting themselves involved in [and] therefore, they don't have any understanding. Unfortunately, a lot of entertainers and even more unfortunately, a lot of Black entertainers have made that mistake, right?"

Indeed.

So, how did Jason avoid becoming a statistic? Here comes my favorite part.

Jason’s Single Mom Is Absolutely the S—t. He Says So.

"Fortunately, for me, I had a mother who was already involved in the entertainment industry. [She] knew how to comprehend and break down contracts. Was able to assemble a proper team around me of agents, managers and attorneys that looked out for my best interest. And things were negotiated properly to where now, I don't have to look back on my experiences with Disney or any other project that I've done and been slighted or short-changed."

Mama handled that. Jason's mama handled that. Here's some more industry info to take note of. According to Jason, Disney initially offered him a flat fee to sing the songs that he did. He goes on record saying that it was "an insane amount of money at the time". But peep what his mama was on.

"So, if you guys are willing to offer him this insane amount of money for a flat fee, where he won't receive any residual income after this, I wonder what the residual income would look like. Well, if you want him, we're negotiating based on those terms."

Get 'em, Ma. Jason said that agreeing to terms like that was "kind of a rarity back then." Jason goes on to share something that I didn't know. His mom was also a singer. She once had a deal with Capitol Records, alongside her sisters. Her group was called Kitty & the Haywoods. They did background singing work for Curtis Mayfield and were the featured background artists on the original Sparkle soundtrack (singing behind Aretha Franklin's "Giving Him Something He Can Feel").

"She knew the game. Was a very smart businesswoman. So, when I expressed a genuine interest in wanting to get involved, she knew how the position the Chess pieces on the board, in order to protect her son. And that's what she did. So, shout out to my mother. I love you mom, thank you. 'Cause you worked it out. You the s—t."

That last part? That is the biggest reason why I wanted to share this interview on this platform. I love that Jason shouted out his mom; that he proudly was like, "Don't get it twisted. It's my mama who had my back." And, because I know that sometimes single moms catch stress and drama, even in the media, I also like that Jason's mother is a brilliant example that single mothers are dope.

So, if you're a mom—and especially if you're a single mom—reading this, I sincerely hope that Jason and his mother have reminded you of just how special and significant you are. You inspire us in ways I'm sure you totally underestimate. And, in the eloquent phrasing of Sir Weaver, we feel that you too are the complete and total s—t!

For Jason's full interview with ComedyHype, watch it here.

Featured image by Strong Black Lead

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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