Jalyn Hall | As Ever-Changing as the Clouds in the Sky

The actor discusses his new film 'Till' and other projects.

Photographed by

Meg Young

Styled by

Gorge Villalpando

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LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S jacket and pants and ZEGNA shoes.

In all things, there is change. The world is far from static, and people are no exception. Life is a series of transformations that are as ever-changing as the clouds in the sky and the tide of the ocean. Change is unpredictable and can be uncomfortable, but how else can a caterpillar spread its wings and take flight as a butterfly without metamorphosis?

15-year-old Jalyn Hall embraces change with humble confidence that is fueled by an eagerness to learn and grow, not only as an actor but as a person as well. With a drive that is far beyond his years, Hall is actively living out his dreams. The young actor has his sights set high and is committed to pushing himself to be the best version of himself that he can be. This awareness requires a willingness to reshape one’s self without holding reservations or fear of the unknown because through everything there is a lesson found in life’s delicate evolutions.     

Leading his first ever biopic this October as Emmett Till in Till, Hall shows a refined dedication to exploring more of his craft as he matures and expands his filmography. Discussing his latest upcoming projects, Hall expounds upon the wisdom that he has gained from the industry along the way.    

DIOR MEN jacket, shirt, pants, ZEGNA turtleneck and FENDI shoes.

So starting right off, I’ve seen the Till trailer multiple times, and I am really excited for that! It’s such an important story that I think should be told, and should’ve been told probably a long time ago. I’m really looking forward to that, and for you, leading this huge biopic how did it feel when you first heard about landing that role? 

Well, I can honestly say that it was an honor because when I was doing the audition process they didn’t let us know what it was for so I didn’t really know the gravity of which the project holds. When I figured it out it was just such a blessing and such an honor, not only to me but to my mom and my family members who only further expressed to me the importance of this role and the importance of this movement, and the importance of the message we’re trying to send here. I would definitely say that my reaction to this was nothing less than humbled but also super honored to tell the story. 

Well, I know my family and I are both really looking forward to seeing it, really excited for you! Do you feel any type of pressure with taking on that big of a role and that big of a story? 

I don’t think ‘pressure’ is the word for it. I think that at the start of it there was definitely some knowledge of, like I said, how important it is. With that level of importance, there is a level of professionalism and digging deep into your craft to portray such a role. I don’t think I once ever felt pressure. If there was any pressure there I didn’t recognize it as that, it only helped me to tell the story even better. It only helped me to go to a place where I could feel the character, not even the character, the person, the child that I was playing. It only helped me to connect closer to it, so I feel like there was no pressure for me. It was only the grace and the willpower to keep going.     

LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S jacket and pants and ZEGNA shoes.

In consideration of your other projects, I’m also really looking forward to the release of Bruiser. I love that type of indie film work! Also, congrats on it being an official selection at Sundance, SXSW, and these giant film festivals! I’m curious about how that experience was for you, with indie work compared to more commercial work.  

It was definitely different than what I was used to in the sense that it was more grounded in a way because everybody was there, some of it their first time and some weren’t, but it was more real to conversate with each other about every single thing and for it to be a unanimous unit while filming. I feel like when a team of people builds a product then it’s really gonna be a great one and I feel like this project took a team of people. The director can probably tell the story better than I can, but it definitely took some time and took a team to build this project and I really feel like we came out with a great product. I haven’t seen the movie myself, not just yet, but I went to ADR a minute ago and I got to see some snippets and clips and it looks really really good. I can say that I’m super satisfied with it and I feel like it’s different because everybody was in on it. There wasn’t one person who didn’t have an idea that wasn’t implemented and I feel like that’s different from the mainstream stuff where everything is pretty much said and done. We go on with the schedule and the track, but with this, you get to set one day and there’s a new idea and we’re like ‘Yeah I like that idea, let’s throw it in.’ Yeah, it was pretty great, it was pretty great. It was a team that built it. 

I feel like that’s also like the beauty of filmmaking too, that communal aspect where everyone has a specific job that is equally valuable. But yeah, I’ve seen the poster and all the stills and it looks beautiful. 

Thank you!

Of course. I feel like you’re in a very busy season of your career, with your Disney+ show coming up, you’ve got a lot keeping you booked and busy. So I’m curious if along this experience you’ve taken away some really great advice from within the industry or anything you’ve learned along the way?

Well, It’s funny that you say that because I’m pretty sure that I’ve taken away at least one thing that I retain, if not more, from all of the projects that you named. In the Disney+ show, The Crossover, my father is Derek Luke and he has definitely been around for a very long time, very seasoned veteran, and being alongside him has taught me so many things. Just conversations with him just at lunch or we have intellectual conversations during our breaks or anything like that, but every time I talk to him I always retain some sort of information. If it’s not about the craft or scenes or delivering lines in a certain way it’s him teaching me about the inner workings of the business, of the industry. Even on Bruiser our director, a super cool guy, young guy, but very smart and very driven in his way of directing, talking to him, his name is Miles Warren, kind of helped me because I would like to become a director one day. So talking to him inspired me a lot because he gave me a lot of jewels about how this has been in the running for so long. Not only sticking to your dreams and not giving up but the focus that I got from that was just amazing. Till, Emmett Till, working along the great Whoopi Goldberg and Danielle. Danielle has definitely taught me so much, not just as an actor but as a person because she’s such an amazing person and such an amazing actor. On set just watching her and learning from her and talking to her, she’s given me so much information not only about finding truth in acting but as a person as well. I can definitely go into greater detail about a lot of the places I’ve been and a lot of things I’ve learned, but those three projects that are rolling through, that’s some of the things I’ve picked up along the way.                                    

Yeah, would you say those people are kind of like your biggest role models in the industry? Or are there specific actors and directors that you also look up to? 

Yeah, I can definitely say that there is. A lot of people would say their role models are like The Rock or Will Smith or Denzel Washington. I think that having a singular role model is a great thing. It’s not a bad thing to want to model yourself after someone great, but I personally would like to learn a bit from everyone because everything is an experience that you can learn from. It’s good to wanna model yourself after someone who is great and that you think is great, but it’s also not bad to want to learn from everyone so that way you’re taking little bits and pieces and making ‘you’ a better ‘you.’ I’m thankful for everyone along the way who helped me become a better Jalyn. 

FENDI top and pants.

Also in the scope of your projects, I’d say that your projects range greatly, in terms of genre and format, and I’m curious how you manage to portray a variety of personalities and still take the time to find yourself. In some sense, you’re kind of in your own coming-of-age story in life. 

Right, that is a great question. I think that for the longest I’ve always kind of been a character myself, like even younger than I am today. I’ve always been a character, even if it’s like putting on a different voice, so I feel like getting into character for projects isn’t hard. Getting into character for projects is easy for me because I’ve always kind of been able to change up characters just as a child, being a fun-loving lighthearted kid. So getting into these roles, I can read it and I can study it and just hop into it, but coming out of it it’s never been something that’s hard for me. You hear a lot of people’s stories about how getting into a role changed them and it was hard for them to come out of it and it’s hard for them to forget about it. This came earlier in my career and this came when auditioning how you’ll hear a thousand no’s before you hear one yes. So I remember I was told that once you go in, you do your audition and once you leave, you leave it there, you leave it at the door. I feel like once I’m done with a character I just leave that there and then once I come out I’m right back to being me, I’m right back to being Jalyn, I’m right back to doing my homework, playing my video games, hanging out with my friends. Whatever Jalyn does and whatever the character does are two different things. 

Going off of that, is there a particular character you’ve played that you feel has really resonated with you?                 

Yes, Emmett Till was something that was super close to my heart and really changed me. There are certain points in your life where things happen or you undergo things that put you through an evolution, in a word. I feel like that was one of those points. I felt like going into every other project, it wasn’t the same, not saying that every project is the same because not every project is the same and not every character is the same, but there’s always gonna be a sense of trying to take what you did on the last project into the next one just out of the sense of comfortability. I feel like going into Emmett Till was me shedding old scales and coming out of the chrysalis as something new, and not just new as an actor, but as a person, as a child, as an African American child in America, in this world, period. I feel like that was something that taught me and changed me for the better so I can definitely say that Emmett Till is something that I connected with on a whole different level. Even in the Disney+ series, I connected with that character as well because it really embodies the modern-day teenager and modern-day teenager problems. That was easy for me to portray because most of it is my day-to-day. I feel like a lot of the characters that I take on and projects I take on, I see a bit of myself in and more so recently. 

In terms of touching on you as Jalyn, I’ve noticed on Instagram that you do a bit of rapping and have various forms of creative expression other than acting. I’m curious how that connects, if it does, and overlaps with your acting, and how it inspires you. 

Right, right. Well, acting has always been the main focal point of my life, and what I want to do, what my dreams are, and what my goals are. Acting has always been at the center of that and I feel like acting opens up a bunch of doors to other possibilities. Music is something else that I kinda picked up along the way, whether it’s just at the house putting some lyrics together or putting some words together, putting some rhymes together, stuff that sounds good that I could express myself with. I feel like great actors can express themselves through acting and what they do off the camera whether it be fundraisers or whether it be giving back, which are also things that I do in my spare time. Music was another outlet for me to express myself and have fun doing that as well. That all kinda ties into acting as well because I’m gonna put this in a video game sense, acting is the end goal but music and franchising are like the side quests that I go on, not only for my personal benefit but just to live and be happy and have these experiences. Ultimately, it’s all kind of in that same wheelhouse.

ZEGNA jacket, turtleneck, and pants.

Photographer: Meg Young

Stylist: Gorge Villalpando

Grooming: Kachay Dorsey for Cloutier Remix

Digital Tech: Matt Cluett

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