As the only son of Andre Benjamin and Regina King’s characters on season two of John Ridley’s ABC drama series “American Crime,” with this dynamic performance, Trevor Jackson’s success as an adult actor in Hollywood was sealed. He played Kevin, the son of Michael and Terri LaCroix, who is facing a rape, drugs and shooting scandal, thanks to his position as co-captain of the basketball team. Getting a piece of the American Dream and having a bright future all start to fade away due to a string of events that started with a basketball team party.
While he had a great run on the show, Jackson’s sights are now set on the music scene. Here, he talks about going on tour, tattoos and when he wanted to give up.
What has the process been like being on the road, stopping through different cities?
There is no point of doing anything if you’re not going to do it all the way. Atlanta, Philly and Washington have been the craziest so far. It was fun. I’m in Atlanta all the time shooting and recording. That’s why I stayed. There are a lot of people that I know out here, so we just kind of kick it and hang out. It’s crazy. Whatever I’m doing at that moment I try to only focus on that because I’m already ADD. On tour, I want to focus on the show because the shows are most important. Every night I don’t care if I’m doing interviews that day or photo shoots that day, what’s most important is that I’m making sure I’m right and tight for the show. These people all come out to see me so I have to perform and make sure that they never forget it.
At what point did it trip you out that people were coming out to see you perform?
It’s crazy because I’ve been doing it for so long but the difference is when I did Broadway when I was only 8 years old. People were paying then too, but now it’s different because they are paying to see me and something that I’ve put together myself. In My Feelings — that whole project itself was just a retaliation. I was upset and just frustrated with life. I was like this is how I’m going to get away and just make this project and say “F” everybody but not “F” everybody potentially because it’s just like I gotta be me and so many people are going to try and change your course or what you think is right for you. That’s how I made it. Doing that and then going to a show and everybody singing every word to a song was crazy. Philly was the craziest and was my first sold-out show ever. I almost started tearing up because I stopped singing one song and they sang the whole song until the end.
You said you were in a space where you just wanted to say “F” everybody, but from the outside, people would think your life is good. Where did those feelings stem from?
That’s with anybody. I don’t care if you do music, if you take pictures or if you’re a doctor or whatever. There’s always going to be a side of you that people don’t know or people don’t understand because they haven’t lived your life. There is always going to be a downside, but that’s why I feel social media is starting to taint the way music is perceived and is accepted. People like to post everything about themselves on social media, so then when somebody has a bad comment or somebody has something bad to say, it affects them because they’re giving all of themselves to that thing. That’s why I don’t post a lot and that’s why people don’t know [me]. I have to save some of myself for me so that I can get through what I gotta get through because if I’m putting all my stuff out there and everybody knows my business, then it becomes our journey and it’s mine.
How do you determine what lane you’re going to be in?
I just want to execute whatever it is so nobody can say anything. It’s like Kobe every single game. That’s why it’s so hard to stay in basketball because it involves so many things. You have to dunk, shoot, pass and have to have the mental game. That is how I feel; my life is the same way Kobe feels about every game. It’s for me to execute so I can move on to the next thing. You have to be around people that are going to better you and it’s hard to find because [there are] only a few. When I see people that are in the same mental space as me I’m like, “let’s coordinate and get in the studio. Let’s go play basketball and let’s just kick [it] because I’m all about learning.” I’m all about knowledge and I don’t like mistakes because I don’t think mistakes are real. I want to learn while I’m here. I want to learn, be better and execute. That is my new word. I never even used the word “execute” until today. Steph [Curry] is another one who woke up one day and said, “everybody is going to know my name.” That is the mentality that you should have to be great. He just woke up and was like, “I’m going to be the greatest.”
How do you feel about people comparing you to other artists?
I get that all the time. It annoys me because they’re just comparing me to people they like right now. For instance, first it was Chris [Brown], then it was Trey [Songz] and now it’s Bryson Tiller since he is poppin’ off. It’s just like I don’t sound like any of those guys. I sound like Chris a little and I’ve gotten that but I can’t help my voice. I feel like Chris, Trey and Bryson Tiller all sound extremely different.
How do you shake off the comparisons?
It just makes me go harder. I feel like this, if somebody makes food and it tastes good, then I don’t care who makes the damn food if it tastes good. We all have different chefs. If you make that to taste delicious then I’m going to eat it. Now, I’m not saying that I have the exact same food as anyone else but I’m just saying that it gets in the way. You worrying about other people gets in the way. It gets in the way of you, your creativity and your growth. People make things too complex.
How do you stay ahead of the game, like in chess?
For me, it’s about sacrificing and that’s why I love chess. Something always has to go. I’ve never seen anybody win a game with all his pieces on the board. For me, sometimes it has to be social media, not turning up or if I do, then I have to sacrifice sleep because I have to get up. That is kind of how I look at it in some parts. It’s definitely starting to make me think differently about things. Whoever made that game is a genius.
What is the story behind your tattoo?
The greatest verse of all time, 2 Timothy 1:7. That’s at the beginning of the tape. My grandma said that. She taught it to me when I was 8 years old and I’ll never forget it. She just told me to keep reading it and I just kept reading and reading over and over. Ever since she taught that to me I would say it all the time no matter where I was at. I got it once I was old enough to be able to get a tattoo without consent but my mom didn’t want me to get one. This is my mom’s handwriting. It’s a whole bunch of things wrapped in one. I wanted it so I could see it. We all have low points in our lives. I wanted to just look at it and keep going.
What’s the best place to have fun, Atlanta or L.A.?
[Atlanta], of course. These are my people down here. L.A. is crazy, but even for me I never really go to the clubs to have fun. I have to trust you in order for you to see me in any kind of way. When I turn up or have time I’m with my family, we’re talking about life and things that we’ve experienced. It’s a celebration of life every time we do that. I don’t look at like we’re just trying to pop some bottles or whatever that is. I’m just like let’s just appreciate this life that we’ve been given and turn up one time. It’s definitely gotta be controlled because people just get crazy. When people aren’t in a circle or [don’t] understand, their phones come out and we’re not here forever so embrace now. My brother said, “the best moments are never recorded because he is too busy living them.” You could have seen the shooting star but you were too busy trying to get a picture of it. Social media is going to ruin us.