Q: How did you get the job? Take me through the process.
A: It really came out of the blue. I was on my way back to LA from visiting my family in Ketchikan and I got a call from one of the top sports coordinators for movies and commercials. I've worked with him several times and he told me he had a movie I'd be perfect for. He said it was a Warner Brothers film with Kevin Durant and all I had to do was go over to their studio and meet the director and show him some of the things I can do with a basketball. I went and met with him and they had a basketball court that they built for George Clooney right in the center of the Warner Brothers lot, so we went out there and I showed him what I could do. He liked it and said he'd see me next week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana! It was pretty nerve-wracking but I've been practicing my "audition dribbling routine" everyday since I moved out here so I have gotten pretty good at it.
Q: How many days did you work? Did you have to join a union or anything?
A: I was in Louisiana for exactly one month. They really took care of me in all ways, I was very impressed with Warner Brothers. I think I liked getting spoiled a little too much, but I enjoyed my time and the people so much everyday. I didn't want to take such an amazing experience for granted so I tried to make the most of it all.
For the most part, my role was to dress and look like the main actor Taylor Gray and step in to perform the difficult basketball scenes and add my flare to the scenes. However, Taylor is a really good basketball player, so he was able to do a lot of it and that made my job easy. He is the star of the Nickelodeon show "Bucket and Skinner's Epic Adventures." You can tune in and catch him on TV every week, he has a big career ahead of him!
I have been blessed to book enough work that I qualified to join the Screen Actors Guild. It was a huge step for me and I was very honored and excited to have the opportunity because many people try for years and never are able to. Like they tell you, it is one of the most elite groups in the world consisting of former presidents, big celebrities and of course the top actors in the world.
SAG is cool because it's privately funded money and I will be able to qualify for things like good health insurance and other benefits. It helps protect actors from being taken advantage in a variety of ways so it's awesome to have my SAG card now.
Q: What was the most complicated trick shot? And why? How long did it take to get right?
A: I got to do many different things like getting strapped in a harness and doing crazy dunks, jumping off ramps and I even got to jump over a car and dunk. Besides that it was a lot of fast dribbling and fancy ball-handling and making my shot look like Kevin Durant's. I got to do some scenes with Jim Belushi which was a lot of fun. In that scene I dribbled through his legs and made him fall over.
One of the crazier things that happened was a stunt man had to jump off a house, onto a trampoline and then land with one leg through the net! It was pretty intense and the guy almost broke and dislocated every bone in his body, I'm pretty sure. I was so happy they had him do it and not me.
Q: Did you have to wear makeup?
A: Everyone in the movies has to go through makeup. It's just a normal everyday routine in the business. However, on this one I never work makeup, they were more focused on installing my wig, which was quite the process.
Q: Tell me a Kevin Durant story.
A: Kevin Durant was a class act. He was very nice and treated everyone with the utmost respect. I was very impressed with how he carried himself. You forget that these "superstars" are just everyday people like you and me, and it was funny to see that he was just your average goofy 22-year-kid at heart.
Getting to work with him was great. In one scene, I was suppose to have his talent and he was suppose to have mine, so basically I was really good and he was terrible. I got to put a bunch of moves on him and score on him. I told him to make sure he made me look good, and he said, "You're doing that yourself." That was really cool.
A couple weeks into the movie KD left to shoot a commercial and a couple of my friends from LA were in it and talked to him about me and he knew who I was and said I was "really good." I was pretty excited to think Kevin Durant knew who I was and thought I was a good player! Being able to hang around with him and talk basketball was quite the experience and I am very thankful I got that chance because I know most people would kill for that.
Q: What else are you up to these days? Do you have a "regular" job or are you making it with the street-ball and movie stuff?
A: Financially the acting can be lucrative but you lack the security of a steady pay check. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable just sitting around waiting for different acting gigs. Besides the fact that it would get boring, it just isn't my personality to sit around wait for things to happen.
I am involved in too many different ventures to list them all but the one I am most excited about is Deuce Brand. This silicone sports-watch company allows me to incorporate my love for sports, basketball and people all into one. Since I have gotten to be around many pro athletes and celebrities I am able to hook them up with watches, picque their interest and promote the company. I've even been able to design customized watches for my old high school and also for a couple of other high schools in Alaska. Deuce Brand just became the youngest company to ever receive an NBA license and our NBA line comes out in a couple weeks. For me it's been exciting to work with a company full of young guys who share the same drive that I have to do things in the biggest way possible.
You definitely need to check out their new website, I am on it as well as some of the other pro athletes and celebrities we work with www.deucebrand.com
Q: And finally, how old are you now?
A: I just turned 25! I still look 17 years old however, which has turned out to be a huge asset for me. It's funny that something that has been annoying to me most of the time has helped me so much in my acting career. I watched a Disney movie the other day and one of the main actors was 30 playing a high school kid. Hopefully I can milk my "baby face" for a long time.
Q: If you want to add anything not covered by these questions, go for it.
A: It was awesome being a stunt performer for this movie, but my next goal is to get a main role in a movie or TV show. I was able to do some good networking, so I hope that will pay off down the road.
I made lifelong friends with kids that have their own shows on Nickelodeon and the Disney channels and Tyler Perry's House of Pain. One of my new friends even played Brad Pitt in his youth in the movie Benjamin Button. As someone new to the game, it was great being able to get to know people who are doing what I am aspiring to do.
Be on the lookout for the launch of my new website -- www.JesseLeBeauOnline.com -- in a few weeks. Building a network and a following is a big part of the business. I would love it if all my Alaskan people would "like" my Facebook fan page and follow me on Twitter @JesseLeBeau
I appreciate all the support and kind words I have received from people in Alaska. I am focused on taking these opportunities I have been blessed with as far as I can so I can have a larger influence on kids who weren't given the type of upbringing I was. While pursuing this, the love I've received from Alaska has been tremendous and I want to say thank you.
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By BETH BRAGG
Anchorage Daily News