The entertainment industry 3-day masterclass, “From Dream to Screen: SCSU Industry Insider Masterclass Featuring Jason Weaver” was a breakthrough moment for South Carolina State University students who attended Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

Jason Weaver coaches students during script reading and scene reenactments.

For those who want to get their foot in the door in acting, producing or script writing, this was an enormous opportunity to get first-hand knowledge and experience from a renowned actor and singer who has decades of experience.

Jason Weaver is known for playing “Rashad” on the Showtime original series “The Chi” and as the singing voice of “Simba” in the animated classic “The Lion King.” He is also known for playing in Black classic films and television shows, such as “Smart Guy”, “Drumline” and “ATL.”

SC State student Nia Smith reenacts scene with Jason Weaver.

“What I want to do is plant a seed in these young minds to be more independent and utilize the technology we have available to us – the digital streaming platforms that we have available to us to get our content and our narratives out there directly to our viewers,” Weaver said. “So, that was our goal here with this inaugural masterclass.

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SC State student Jamil Walker reenacts scene with Jason Weaver.

“What we’re ultimately looking to do is build a program and curriculum here where students, when they come to this school, can get real knowledge about the film and TV industry. Hopefully, it’ll be able to create employment opportunities and generate revenue,” he said.

Weaver talked to students about what it takes to make it in the entertainment industry and shared real-life experiences about what he went through as a child actor coming up in the industry.

Jason Weaver (left), Joshua Edwards (center), and Orlando Jones (right).

He gave them key tips on how to elevate in the industry including how to stay determined, have resilience and keep faith. He emphasized the power of networking and making strong connections in the industry and how it helped him in his career.

Participants of the masterclass.

Weaver also taught them how to build credibility as an actor or script writer and about knowing their worth as young black professionals.

On day two, students were split into groups to act as actors and scriptwriters. They were given scripts to re-enact scenes from several television shows and had the opportunity to re-enact the scenes one-on-one with Weaver. Along with the student scriptwriters, Weaver analyzed the scenes and gave the student actors pointers and constructive critiques.

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One of the student actors, Nia Smith, described the masterclass as a “spiritual” moment because this is something that she has always wanted to do.

“I’ve always had an interest in acting – anything creative that I’ve pursued, I’ve always had a major interest in it. And I’ve always been a creative being, whether it was writing or storytelling, so it felt like I was in my zone,” she said.

South Carolina State University will host renowned film and television actor and singer Jason Weaver for an entertainment industry masterclass Oct. 30-Nov. 1 on campus. “From Dream to Screen: SCSU Industry Insider Masterclass Featuring Jason Weaver” will be a three-day workshop designed to educate and prepare future trailblazers about the business of entertainment, as well as how to establish and build a lifelong career in the film and television industry.

Smith is a junior communications major who aspires to work in the music industry and to be an Artists and Repertoire (A&R) representative and/or music executive. She also has an interest in songwriting and producing.

Being able to reenact scenes with Weaver and gain key knowledge from the masterclass was a memorable moment in her life.

“I’ve been a fan of Jason Weaver ever since his song with Chingy, ‘One Call Away.’ I grew up watching Jason Weaver. He is a big part of Black cinema, and I watched him on “Smart Guy”, “ATL”, “Drumline,” Smith said. “So, it was insane to see somebody that I grew up watching and to see him turn out to be such a sweet spirit in person. You can tell that Jason Weaver is such a good-natured person and I love how he’s giving back to us.

“My greatest takeaway from the masterclass was that you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe in the products you’re putting out. So, it planted a seed in my mind to go harder,” she said.

Jamil Walker, another student from the masterclass, said his biggest takeaway was to “keep faith during the process.”

“My experience at the masterclass was so surreal. I grew up watching Jason Weaver, but I never thought I’d meet him in person,” Walker said. “It was a breathtaking experience because he was so engaging with us. A movie star like that – you wouldn’t expect him to be that engaging and actually take the time to personally get to know us. I like how he didn’t just teach the class; he gained a relationship with all of us.”

Walker is a senior business management major, has an interest in going into the film industry and do behind-the-scenes work like producing. After attending the class, he also is now open to exploring a career in acting.

“I liked acting out the scenes, it was nerve-racking, but he helped to encourage us and gave us good pointers. He didn’t just have us read off the paper, he made us pretend we were actually at a movie audition. I got hands-on training and that’s something that I never thought I’d be able to do or experience,” Walker said.

To conclude the class, Weaver invited his business partner and friend, Orlando Jones, and his entertainment attorney, Joshua Edwards, to speak on the technology and business aspects of the entertainment industry.

Jones is a stand-up comedian and actor best known for his roles in “Evolution”, “The Time Machine” and “Drumline,” where he met Weaver. Jones is no stranger to the SC State campus, as he attended the Felton Laboratory School and lived on Faculty Row when his father was an SC State basketball coach.

Edwards is a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP who specializes in Transactional, Litigation, Management, Finance, Tax, Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Corporate Entities.

Students who attended each day of the masterclass received certificates signed by Weaver and President Alexander Conyers. Students also received signed photographs of Weaver.

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