In "Red Hook Summer," the latest in a series of ghetto chronicles from director Spike Lee, Jules Taylor Brown plays Flik Royale, a moody kid from Atlanta visiting his God-fearing grandfather in the Red Hook housing projects of Brooklyn for the summer. Between his grandpa's relentless proselytizing and the culture shock of the hood, Flik's summer appears to be a total disaster until he meets a girl his age who shows him another side of New York City's most populous borough, making him realize the world is bigger and perhaps a lot better than he'd ever imagined.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, the 15-year-old got his chops through his middle school's theatre arts program where he was discovered by Lee in the eighth grade. An avid skateboarder and amateur photographer, the precocious teen knows he's got the skills to pay the bills.
How did you land the role for "Red Hook Summer"?
Spike came to my school in seventh grade and watched us do some of our monologues. He came back the next year and did the same thing [but] at the end of the day [he] took down all my information. Me and Toni [Lysaith] started coming to [Lee's production company] 40 Acres and reading some lines from the script and one day he told us we had the roles.
What's it like working with Spike Lee?
It was cool. I was nervous of course but I was making history. I learned so much so fast [the film was shot in eleven days]; I almost can't remember it all but I learned to be really patient. Acting takes a lot of patience.
How did you get into acting?
I auditioned while I was in middle school. I was originally supposed to go for art but I ended up auditioning for drama and slowly I started to like it more and more.
What was your first role?
In sixth grade. It was a little play that we — uh no no no — before I even went to middle school there was a short film that my upstairs neighbor was doing because he was trying to become a director.
What actor inspires you the most?
There's [a lot of] people I do wanna work with like Donald Glover, who's pretty cool. He's also also known as Childish Gambino the rapper.
What would you be doing if you weren't acting?
I'd be rapping and producing.
What would be your nom de guerre?
Jules … Jewel Z … JT…
So no R&B?
Not even Gospel?
Drake or Wiz Khalifa?
Wiz Khalifa is my favorite.
What do you like more, L.A. or NY?
Mac or PC?
P ... uh, Mac! Excuse me, I was about to say PC but I'm a Mac all the way.
What's next for you?
I've been auditioning for roles and trying to focus on my music as well.
When's the mix-tape dropping?
I'm trying to put something together but it's gonna be a while [because I'm gonna produce it].