James N Moseley: “The golden rule”

There is a code of conduct on the set — the more serious the set, the more money in the production, the more decorum is necessary. Everyone is there to do a specific job because they are good at it, and they should be recognized. I make a point to say hello to everyone on the set […]

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There is a code of conduct on the set — the more serious the set, the more money in the production, the more decorum is necessary. Everyone is there to do a specific job because they are good at it, and they should be recognized. I make a point to say hello to everyone on the set personally — everyone is important — makeup, Hairdressing, everyone is important — everyone is there for a reason and everyone deserves the respect. There is no “hey buddy!” unless that happens to be your character’s name. It’s all yes sir, no sir, no ma’am until someone tells you to call you by their first name.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Atlanta, Georgia-based James N. Moseley.

He has been making quite a mark since he started working in film and TV just a few short years ago. He appeared in the last season of Star Girl by Warner Brothers TV a major television production. He also appeared in the film about Richard Jewell and was personally directed with just two others in a scene by film legend Clint Eastwood.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Yes! I was born in Dallas, Texas in a hospital that later burned to the ground and it did not have air conditioning, that was Dallas in the mid-60s. My mother had us bouncing around When my grandparents moved from Dallas to a farm not too far from Waco, my mother decided we were going to move to Louisiana. She was a nurse in the emergency room. So in the early to mid-70s we moved just across the river from New Orleans to Gretna, Louisiana. I had no idea who my father was until I later joined the army at 17. I was tired of bouncing around so I joined the army for stability.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a matter of fact, yes. I was in Austin, Texas and I had been working in and around the live music scene for about 8 years, working with the SXSW production crew. That’s where I found myself after the army. And I was going to school there to become a sound engineer, a recording engineer because I already knew how to sing, but I wanted to learn how to be the guy pushing the buttons and controlling it all, so I was going to school and after I had graduated, I had heard that the type of music I needed to be interested in was the Atlanta sound that was going down. My wife is from Georgia so we moved back to Georgia from Texas. While I was building the studio here in Atlanta, I was out at lunch and someone handed me a card and said “have you ever thought about being in the movies?” It was at that point in time I was thinking about throwing my name into the acting world and see what happens and when I posted it on Facebook I got a lot of attention and a lot of inboxes, and I started talking to a publicist and then we went from there. It has been a very interesting journey, in just a little over one year.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Right after my publicist Tracy Lamourie at Lamourie Media connected me with some industry sources like Backstage, I got a random email about an acting job that told me where to go and what to bring, and what to wear — had no idea at that point in time what it was — I was just answering the email from someone who sounded like they were in the business — and it was in a parking lot right across from the Mercedez Benz stadium — and when I got there, nothing was in the parking lot except for one dude sitting on a stool with a yellow hat and vest way off to the side. He told me to wait til the bus showed up, and for a split second i thought i might be going to an outlaw mud wrestling show or something…the parking lot fills up very fast with all sorts of people, all ages, sizes, nationalities, looks, all kinds of people. And they take us from where we are to Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. So when I get there, is a huge tent full of chairs and tables. And that’s when I meet Nathan who had sent the email. And that’s when I confirm that we are extras for the movie Richard Jewell (back then it was billed as the Ballad Of Richard Jewell) and that is the only thing we were allowed to say if anyone asked what we were working on. We knew who he was because this was Atlanta. I didn’t know at this time that it was being directed by Clint Eastwood. The most interesting thing happened in the second week I was there, we had a little table called the popular table — it was just a joke — there was a huge crew, almost 1000 people with extras and everything and for some reason everyone wanted to pass by our table so we started joking that we were the popular kids now. They ended up using everyone at the popular table in the movie. I was in the movie 7 times, my friend was in it 4 times, everyone that was at that table. It was incredible to have Clint Eastwood walk right up to me and he gave me personal direction on what he was looking for from me in this particular scene. He came up to me by name, and he reminded me of my grandfather, when he talks to you he is just talking directly to you. I got personal direction from Clint Eastood, he told me that the scene is about “emotionality, visuality and physical stillness” — those were his words.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We were having breakfast with the owner of a very big old house where we were shooting a film. I was supposed to show up at 9 and as the saying goes if you are on time you are late, if you are early you are on time — so I was early, Having not been to that area before I was extremely early — so I thought I could go get a coffee but the town was so small there was no McDonalds or Starbucks, just a local place that wasn’t open. So when I knocked on the door to the house cause I saw the truck and the gear I found the owner in his kitchen having coffee in his pajamas then the doorbell rang and here I showed up in my suit ready for makeup.. And he has never seen me before — he let me in and made me coffee and made me waffles! I got to know him pretty well and got to work with him in another film after that.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Because of covid, there are a lot of self-tape auditions right now and I am trying to decide if I am going to do this one specific film, a lead part. I also just finished doing some work for a television show.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

  1. First would be that in this day and age where the internet has given us the ability to reach from Texas all the way around to Bangladesh just like that it gives one the opportunity to see from a different lens, for instance, Hollywood vs Bollywood, same business, ups and downs, budgets but looking through the lens of Bollywood at Hollywood doesn’t see the same thing, they are culturally diverse by geography but wew are with different cultural geology. The same industry in India, California, Germany, the UK, Australian but the people from Australia bring something different to the lens from the people in Germany, and the same goes for the people Germany vis the people in China — we have many different cultures involved in the film industry and they are all important..
  2. The second reason is it is important to have that diversity, it is important to have both sides of the story, you can’t look at the good and ignore the bad. The bad is the contrast so that we can see the good. You can’t understand love without understanding hate. Some of my favourite places to go in Europe are Germany and the Netherlands, that have a dark past together with the second world war as an open wound between the countries. To hear it from the American side is one thing but when you go over there and hear someone from the Netherlands explain to you what happened during the German occupation, they see it differently because it was right in their backyards. It can sound close to what we say happened,. But it is from their perspective. You have to be able to see the love side, the hate side, the good side, the bad side, otherwise you miss the whole point in telling the story in perspective. You have to be able to tell and see different sides. That’s important. And everybody sees the world differently.
  3. In my mind, in this business, it depends on what side of the lens you are on whether your input is wanted or not. If you are on the flat side of the lens, the director, the producer, they have their set of circumstances, but on the shiny side of the lens, where the actors are — where the cast of characters are, where i am, they have a different perspective as well. Like when I have an audition and I don’t understand what the motivation in the piece is — how can I find the psycho killer if I don’t understand why he is this way, however, there are two different ways to see that the flat side and the curved side . It is not always clear what a director wants., but then there are individuals like Clint Eastwood who have the ability to explain it so you see that it shouldn’t be any other way. Not everyone will portray Batman the same way. What if Batman was Indian? What if Superman was a Russian character? The same perspective but seen differently.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

The golden rule — to be on time is to be late. I had arrived early so that I could get a coffee and get settled, and out of nowhere there comes both makeup and hair out of two different trailers running to my car saying they both needed me RIGHT NOW — and I was early! You really never, never know. Casting could come up and hand you five pages of dialogue!

Keep two closets — the clothes they are going to want you to have, brand new T-shirts, brand new outfits that look like you just walked right out from wherever you got your clothes from. Actually, my publicist told me that — but no one else did. You can’t be wearing last year’s shirt, you have to have all new clothes. Then you can take from that closet and supply your personal other closet, your second closet. But your first closet becomes your acting closet. Clothes are your props.

Make sure you have a lot of Black in your wardrobe. Business casual and black are something they are always going to ask you to show up with. It’s important.

There is a code of conduct on the set — the more serious the set, the more money in the production, the more decorum is necessary. Everyone is there to do a specific job because they are good at it, and they should be recognized. I make a point to say hello to everyone on the set personally — everyone is important — makeup, Hairdressing, everyone is important — everyone is there for a reason and everyone deserves the respect. There is no “hey buddy!” unless that happens to be your character’s name. It’s all yes sir, no sir, no ma’am until someone tells you to call you by their first name.

I think those are the big ones. .

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I met a Directing coach on the Clint Eastwood film and he is a vast resource on film knowledge, and I adopted a philosophy of his that has worked a lot. With the advent of youtube, netflix etc where you can see either the whole movie or just a little bit of it, I am constantly looking at scenes of a large genre of movies, for inspiration and I think that finding ways to challenge yourself, keeping your mind open, and busy is a good tip.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am always taking care of other people before I take care of myself, I have always done that throughout my life — in the army, in school, in the film industry, in the music industry — I have met some really good people and been able to avoid really bad people.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Someone I met on the Clint Eastwood set — Bob, Robert Mayer. He’s a vet who works at the VA and he turned out to be a wealth of knowledge in our interactions. If I have an audition and they send me lines to read, I ask him “these are the character, these are his lines, I am lost on the motivation or don’t understand the character,” he gives me character names and motivation because he knows so much about so many movies.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If it is to be it is up to me” — Everything that I have done in my life were told to me that I could not accomplish these things. Rather than wait for someone else to tell me more you can’t do that, I turned it into ‘maybe YOU can’t do that…’. If I want to be in the army, if I want to be in the music industry, in the movie industry, as they say you have to earn your name. So when that opportunity comes to me, if I want to be in film I have to do this, this and this. And I did.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I have often admired Jack Nicholson. If you look at the amount of diversity he has had to portray, a person with that much information of life in this industry — sitting down with him and chatting with him that would be invaluable.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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