Jackie Long is so passionate about his craft, he spends every waking minute working. The Los Angeles native has been an industry favorite for decades, after playing roles in movies such as ATL, The Comebacks, and Idlewild.
But acting is just one tier of Jackie’s life. Beyond directing, producing, writing, and being a voice actor for Grand Theft Auto V, the 38-year-old is a lover of life. Hailing from Altadena, Pasadena (“where the grass is motherfucking greener”), Jackie is a Scoprio and loves to have fun. He states, “I live for fun and I’ma die having fun.”
Jackie comes from humble beginnings, serving as an extra on TV shows like Moesha and The Parkers. From there, he was able to turn his background gigs into real-time roles — letting his acting talents shine through effortlessly.
When he’s not working, Jackie values the time spent with his family. Not even a minute into our conversation, he lists his mom, his beautiful sisters, his step-brother, and his grandparents he loved dearly as a part of his introduction. Flaunt caught up with Long to discuss his upbringing in Altadena, working towards that Oscar, the loss of Kobe Bryant, and more.
What was it like growing up in Altadena?
It was fun. That’s where I learned how to be a young man at an early age because I had great uncles and grandparents who made us go do street work. Hauling on trucks, the trash cans, that’s where you learn to get dirty. Then I learned how to fight. I learned how to respect your elders. I learned that if someone messes with you, hits you or puts hands on you, that’s when you have the right to put hands on them. If they’re talking smack, that’s just talk. Don’t get disappointed in that. Words shouldn’t hurt, it’s just words.
My parents and family taught me if somebody touches you, you won’t get in trouble. I learned to come home at an early time and it’s all for a reason. Your parents say that because the later you’re out, the more bad things can happen. You can get in a car accident. You can get killed, because that’s when a lot of people are driving drunk and doing stupid stuff. I learned a lot. I love it. That’s the city that raised me, that helped me be the person that I am today. My whole family’s there, my friends. I’m Pasadena till the day I die.
You were heavy into sports. What are all the sports you played?
I played baseball, football, ran track, and I played basketball. My favorite one was basketball. I love basketball till this day. I’ma always be a fan of basketball. I will always play basketball as long as my legs keep working.
So when did entertainment come into play?
Entertaining was always in me, ever since I was in junior high and high school. My friends used to always let me know I was funny. “You need to be entertaining. You need to do comedy. You need to do something on TV because your personality is great.” Shout out to them for motivating me. I ended up doing background work, that’s how I really started. I used to be an extra on TV shows like Moesha, The Parkers, the Steve Harvey show. Most of those shows, I ended up getting roles on the show because I was a good background artist. It gave me opportunities.
Did you think Moesha was going to be what it was?
You know what, I never knew… because I’m real close friends with Ray J. We damn near grew up together. I always thought anything they did was always going to be butter. Growing up, I saw they both had so much talent. There was nothing they couldn’t do. Only way they couldn’t do it is if they told themselves they couldn’t do it. Brandy and Ray J motivated me because when I saw them going — as hard as it was having shows, getting them at a young age — I’m like, “damn I want to do that.” And hey, it’s happening.
When was your first big break?
I can say commercials, but people of course would say movies. At a young age, I did a lot of big time commercials. That was my break to really let me know that I wanted to do this. They always say “you have that one role that’s going to take you here, take you there.” I always looked at it as every role is going to help me prepare for the next role, period. It’s going to take me somewhere.
I thank God for every role I’ve gotten, every role that I get. It’s something I love and I’ma do it forever. When you’re becoming the character, you don’t have to be yourself. You get to bring out a part of your body, or a part of your soul, or a part of your humor, or a part of your anger out in a character. You might be a nice person to the world, everyone’s like “he’s so nice!” They’d love to see you play an angry person. If you’re an angry person all day, they’ll say “damn, he’s always mean.” They’d love to see you play a happy person. I’m able to play both, I’m great at both. I love doing both every time I get an opportunity. Acting is a beautiful thing.
What do you feel when you act?
I feel honestly great because I’m doing something that I love. Nothing better in life than the job you love, because you don’t care how long you’re there. If they say you’re going to be here for 40 hours, I’m happy. This is where I want to be anyway. I feel great because I’m working. I’m making myself happy. I don’t care about the pay. Some people do things for the money, but I do it for the passion. I want the awards. I know if you get the awards, you’re going to get everything you want. I just want one. I’ll take all the other ones, but give me that one.
Which one? The Oscar?
That’s that Oscar. That’s the one I want. I know it takes a lot of work to get it, and I’m willing to do all the fucking work it takes to get it.
How often are you working versus not?
I work from the blessings of God as much as he lets me. I’ve been working every year, it’s been great. I haven’t let myself down, He hasn’t let me down. He keeps blessing me to do what I love. I’ve shot a movie that’s coming out this year called Never and Again. I got my TV show, season 2 of Games People Play coming back. People talk about ATL 2. People talk about Real Husbands of Hollywood.
Wait, so is ATL 2 happening?
I’m not talking. Some things, you have to wait and surprise people. You hit them with the whoopty wham and let them know that it’s not happening, or it could be happening. I’m just grateful to be here in this interview with you. When people acknowledge your work or know who you are, they give you opportunities.
A lot of artists look at it like “yeah I’m doing their show a favor.” No! They’re doing you a favor. They’re helping you out on this platform that you probably would never be seen at. It’s all a great thing. This is what I love to do, I’ma die doing. I know the good that comes with it, I know the bad that comes with it. You have to know how to put yourself on a platform and work both of them.
Bring us back to the Rainbow Dash days.
That’s a movie I did called The Comebacks, with David Koechner and Matthew Lawrence. It was a clip, I had the Rainbow Dash 1st edition, still in the box bitch! No, I do not collect ponies. That was my character! He was a real fan of ponies.
How difficult was it rapping on Bodied?
Very difficult. Because I was working with a great director Joseph Kahn, who’s fucking amazing. He doesn’t like for you to improv. He wanted us to be direct with our dialogue. It was the hardest movie I ever did in my life with dialogue because it had so many different styles. So many big words. It was a lot of dialogue, we had monologues. Not something I hadn’t done before, but in a battle rapper sense…
You have to think, I’m an actor playing a battle rapper. The research I had to do was amazing. I had a lot of help from one of my friends, Albert Daniels (ALBe Back). He helped me and my boy Calum get through the process. We watched a ton of videos of battle rappers. We were gifted with the opportunity to work with all the real battle rappers in the world, the top ones. It was scary going to work everyday because we’re portraying them, and we don’t want to look whack.
We knew on our battle rap scene days, we’re going to have to really shine. The acting in the movie part, that’s easy for me and Calum. But the battle rap scenes were our scariest moments. We’re asking them so many questions like “yo man, do we look like battle rappers?” They’re like “dude, I thought you motherfuckers really were battle rappers.” That’s how good I was. That movie’s one of my favorites, I hope it can be a favorite for everyone else too. It’s a great movie, great big lessons talking about culture appropriation. Talks about everything you can imagine. It’s the most nerdy racist movie ever in the world. [laughs]
What would you say is the biggest obstacle in this entertainment business?
You have to get used to being a celebrity. It’s an obstacle because a lot of people look at you to have more, to have a crew or to have this. You might not be that type of person that needs that. Some people when you post stuff, they get at you. But there’s nothing that you should pay attention to but yourself. Social media, let them say what they have to say. Don’t ever let nobody tell you what you can’t do but yourself. When somebody says “you’re ugly, you’re terrible, you only did one movie your whole life,” I love when I hear that because haters are the best thing in the world.
I’m trying to get used to them.
If you don’t have a hater, you aren’t nothing. You haven’t made it if you don’t have a hater. You haven’t been sued yet, you haven’t made it. You have to get sued, and you have to have haters. Haters are the greatest thing to motivate you. Some people take the haters in a different way, they want to retaliate with anger and fight. But at the end of the day, you take what they say and show them “aha, you motherfucker!”
If a hater is knowing every move you do, they’re really your #1 fan. I consider them a fan, and I love them. I love the things they tell me. Some of the shit they say is right! You don’t need to do what they say but you read it like “these motherfuckers are really right!” They tell me shit that some people are scared to tell me. I thank all the haters.
Being from LA, what was it like losing Kobe?
That was heartbreaking. Shit, we lost our Martin Luther King. The person who gave us inspiration, who showed us love. Who showed us family love. He showed us hope. He showed us everything that you can get. Guidance. If you’re a man, he showed you how to be a great man. A great father. A great brother. To see him go at such a young age, I’m glad he was able to live his life and give us so much life that we’re still here to live on his dream and keep it going.
It’s crazy when I say it but of course I’m devastated that his daughter had to go. But if anybody was to go, I’m glad that daughter went with him because he taught her so much. She’d be so hurt if she’s here and he’s gone. Because there’s no more learning from her father, her greatness. I don’t think she could listen to or be taught by anybody but her father. I don’t want none of his children to go, period! But Gigi was his best friend. If you look at every picture, everything they did together. You would’ve thought Gigi was his favorite daughter.
It’s the saddest thing in the world because we all couldn’t believe when it happened. Days go by and of course you’re grieving still, you’re hurting. I hate that that girl’s gone but I’m glad she’s with her father. He’s going to still take care of her like how he was doing here. At the end of the day, that makes Vanessa know that “my daughter’s going to be okay.” Every damn day, she’s with her father.
I saw you say you wanted a daughter too?
Oh yes, if I ever have some kids. As a man, you should raise your daughter how you want to raise them. You let your kids become grown, do what they want to do. As a father, it’s more a challenge because you have to deal with things that a man doesn’t. It’s easy to have a son. You tell them “go out there boy. Do this, do that.” But as a girl, you have to really watch her. Watch what she wears, watch how she walks, watch how she talks. Watch how she does her hair. If me and her mother aren’t together and she’s wearing sexy things that she wants to wear because of her mother, it’s like no. Or if she’s a girl with no sense of fun, I’m a dude with so much energy that I can bring fun to my daughter. It’s more of a challenge, so I like the challenge.
Anything else you want to let us know?
This world’s going through a lot right now. Everybody pray everyday, keep your head up. Know why you’re in this world. If you’re going through anything with anger, having problems with people or beef, try to hit them up and reach out. Say you love them or “hope you’re doing well.”
Even if you don’t want to speak to them, just know the world’s too short. If anything, you want somebody to care for you while you’re gone or at least learn something while you’re here. Shout out to Kobe and Nipsey, the Marathon will continue. Anybody out there following me, know that we have a lot of work to do. Stay motherfucking tuned and I’ll see y’all soon.