Author Zane, and Cast of Cinemax’s ‘The Jump Off’ Discuss Roles & The Series

We have all witnessed what happens when Zane puts a pen to a piece of paper to create a phenomenal novel. Now, Cinemax has given us another opportunity to witness Zane’s work come to life on the small screen, every Friday evening in Zane’s The Jump Off. This is Zane’s second television series. Her first series, The Sex Chronicles, focused on the lives of a group of girlfriends. The Jump Off however, focuses on a group of five, 30-something frat brothers as they face various twists within their lives.

We had the chance to speak with three of the actors from the show, Kinyumba Mutakabbir (pictured far left), Tanjareen Martin, and Amin Joseph (pictured center) as well as the show’s creator, Zane, to discuss the series and some things that we can expect when watching Zane’s The Jump Off on Friday nights.

Kinyumba is a former college football star turned model and actor. You may recognize him from Calvin Klein ads, or from Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself.

Tanjareen Martin, an Inglewood native, claims to have heard every possible joke about her name. She has a background in broadcasting  and has produced episodes of The Judge Joe Brown Talk Radio Show, as well as Love For Sale, featuring singer Mya and herself.

Amin Joseph is a Howard University Theatre Arts graduate who has recently starred in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and appeared on the show “Southland.”

Together, Zane and the members of the cast provided interesting perspectives on providing entertainment for an underserved demographic, as well as, insight to their respective characters and roles within the grand scheme of Zane’s The Jump Off.

Parlé Magazine:  First of all, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Zane, what would you tell someone about your new show, The Jump Off, if they haven’t seen it yet?
Zane: I would tell them that it is a show based on the lives of five fraternity brothers in their early to mid-thirties who reside in Miami, FL.  It is about their lives and bonds with each other, and their various relationships with different women in their lives. I wanted to do a show like this because whenever you think of men of color, people are still talking about movies like The Best Man, The Wood and The Brothers, that came out back in the 1990s. It’s a shame that there’s a market, a part of society, that has really, totally been ignored. I’m very excited about being able to show how men truly feel. How they love. How they have jealousy with each other. In this show, particularly with the main character Dimitri Vance, [played by Amin Joseph] I wanted to show a man who was very successful but had never been forced to mature. So with Dimitri’s character, a lot of women are watching the show like, “He’s so fine, but I just can’t stand him.” But over the course of the season, he will be forced to mature. Some men grow up differently and different things happen to them and they have to start taking responsibility for things and viewing things in a different way. That’s what happens with Dimitri.  It happens with him, but it also happens with the character Woody.  For me, it’s about showing the transformation from one place to another. If people continue to watch, they’ll be surprised. There are a lot of surprises coming. For those who haven’t watched it, they’re truly missing out. If nothing else I know that it’s groundbreaking which is what I always try to do. That’s the main thing for me.  The challenge for me is to do something groundbreaking and something that has never really been done, and I can say that is the case with Zane’s The Jump Off for sure, as was the case with Zane’s The Sex Chronicles.

    Creator, Zane

Parlé: What are some of the differences you noticed when writing for Zane’s The Jump Off as opposed to writing your novels?
Zane (pictured, right): Writing for television is a lot different than writing books for many different reasons. Number one, because you have a budget. Number two, because in a novel, characters can be just about anywhere, doing anything. They can be on the top of Mount Everest, whereas with television, you have to have some sort of location in mind.  You can’t have two hundred characters. There are limitations, but at the same time it’s exciting because it’s a different medium and it’s a challenge. I just love my perfect storm. For me my perfect storm is when my creativity can meet my compassion for other people and meet my passion for life in general and that’s just a challenge. For me, it’s just a perfect combination. It’s a totally different experience but it’s one that I love and it’s easy for me to switch back and forth between the two.
Parlé: So Amin, is there any pressure you face while having a whole show centered around your character?
Amin Joseph: I have a great team. The team over at Cinemax, Mainline, Zane and the directors put talented people around me that I can work with and vibe and flow with. The script is basically my bible. All the characters are coming from the script. Thankfully I was doing the training while I was younger that I was waiting for this type of thing to come to fruition for a while, so it really doesn’t stress me. We do shoot out of order, so that did add a bit of pressure, but it was something that I was used to because I’ve done it before. They shoot according to location. You may be shooting a scene from episode 12 and then go and shoot a scene from episode 1. So, as an actor, you always have to remember where you are in the story so that you can emotionally come across with the right emotion. Besides that, it was fun. It was about trying to find as much fun as possible.
Parlé: Tell us about your character Dmitri?
Amin: Dimitri is like a man-child when you first meet him. He’s a football player who’s kind of living out the lifestyle and kind of in his own fantasy of the jumpoff. He’s living all his fantasies out moment to moment with very little regard for discipline or responsibility, that some people have found with age and wisdom. As this season unfolds, he gets saddled with responsibility overnight. He becomes a family man overnight. He has a child and he hasn’t been in the child’s life for 17 years. There is a newfound responsibility and a commitment to love. Those are things that give him a different perspective when we first meet him. I know men like this, even in my own personal life. The hostility of growing up and looking at life with responsibility and to be disciplined as a man, that’s something that I think the audience can relate to, so I related to that as a character.

Actor, Amin Joseph

Parlé: Now you also played a character in Zane’s The Sex Chronicles.  What would you say are the main differences between the two shows and your character?
Amin (pictured, left, in character): I think the main difference is that The Sex Chronicles had a nourish feel to it, where the characters could step off a page that Zane was writing. So you had fantasies that were intertwined with the A-story line, that was going on with the main characters of the show. The Jump Off is about these guys and what’s going on directly in their lives. There’s no cutting away to another story. The sex is a little more grounded because of that. That’s one of the main things. The other thing is the male point of view. I think there is a little bit more camaraderie because there’s less of the fantasy. So you’ll see scenes of guys playing golf or volleyball, because of that. Dimitri has found success at a very young age. He knew what his golden ticket was and he’s known that his whole life. The story meets him where that is being challenged, whereas Taariq (Amin’s character on The Sex Chronicles) was a man still in search of who he was. He was still trying to find himself.
Parlé: How is playing the role of Dmitri challenging you as an actor?
Amin: I don’t have any children myself. I had to do what we call in acting, an overlay, for those relationships.  I was thinking, “wait, can I have a kid that is that old?” and I did the math and figured I could’ve had a child at 14 or so. I had to rethink about those circumstances.  What if something happened to me and I wasn’t able to have this career the way that I have it right now? My career would be in jeopardy. That kind of brings the reality and the circumstances of the character to who I am as a person and that is what brought the complexity of Dimitri. I wouldn’t say it was challenging, but again, I would say it was fun.
Parlé:  Ms. Tanjareen, were you nervous about taking on a role for something that Zane was working on?
Tanjareen Martin: I wasn’t nervous because I’m a free spirited sister. I’ve already been exposed in the movie Miss March, which I did a few years ago and I have a topless scene, being thrown out the window of a moving tour van. SO that movie was my first, “okay, my boobs are on camera.” It’s just nipples, everybody has them, including men. Zane always has popular shows and books and has a huge fan base. Cinemax is a premium cable channel, they offered me a leading role and I’m thinking, Kim Bassinger, Charlie Theron, Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry have done nude scenes and they’ve gone on to win awards and have all of these accolades. So, no I wasn’t nervous.
Parlé:  What can you tell us about your character Lauren?
Tanjareen: She’s a sportscaster. She is from Michigan but she’s living in Miami now. She’s known Dimitri for years and she knows that all the women are after him. She knows that she doesn’t want to get involved. She’s had a crush on him but she doesn’t want to let him know that because he will take advantage of that so she’s trying to keep her distance from him. When you’re in the friend zone, you really get to see the truth and the women he’s dating and how he treats women. She’s intelligent. She likes sports. She’s like a guy’s girl. She can play sports with you, she can watch sports with you, she can talk sports. She can cook, she’s a good woman to have, but she’s too smart to just have sex with you on the first date. That’s why I like her.

Actress, Tanjareen Martin

Parlé:  So what is Lauren’s role in the grand scheme of the show? Does she stay in that friend zone or does she eventually become a romantic interest?
Tanjareen (pictured, right): Well you know this is a Zane show, so she’s definitely going to have to get it in with the main character. She holds off for as long as she can but at some point, you know you’re going to see the boobies. You know it’s going down at some point. And then what happens after that? I’m not going to say.
Parlé:  No, go ahead.
Tanjareen: I’ll shut up, but after that happens things change. There are other people who are involved with him.
Parlé:  Is that something to look forward to this season?
Tanjareen:  I don’t know if I should spoil it. I will say that the second half of this season, gets more and more shocking as the episodes go on and it’s definitely one of those shows where you wish it were longer and you can’t believe how they end each episode. You want to see the next episode right away. It gets deeper and crazier. The plot thickens as each episode goes on.
Parlé:  You have a background in broadcasting, is that what helped you connect with Lauren?
Tanjareen: I can relate to her type of work because she’s looking at everything intellectually and she’s in her head, so she’s careful. You assess the situation before you jump into it. She originally approaches Dimitri on a business level. She really just needs him to come to an event because there’s a high school boy played by Gregg Wayans, the nephew of Keenan Ivory Wayans, who is adopted. My character Lauren is trying to help him to become a better person and find his father.  I’m also trying to introduce him to Dimitri because Dimitri and him have football in common and I just want him to be a mentor. That’s another reason that I was drawn to this character. It’s deeper than just sex scenes. She’s a good person. She’s trying to help this adopted kid find his parents. She’s trying to get a mentor in his life. She really has a good heart.
Parlé:  Kinyumba, what are some things you’d say about your character, Woody, that would draws viewers in?
Kinyumba Mutakabbir (below): My character is a very loyal character. He’s loyal to his brothers. He wants to protect them. The show is about the bond that we all have as brothers, but also the bond we have with our counterparts in our relationships.  The dynamics are kind of pushing and pulling against each other sometimes because we want to be there for our brothers but then again we have our relationships with our ladies. That’s one of the most intriguing aspects of Woody. He’s forced to make choices. He has his own growing up to do.  It kind of resembles what I’m going through in my real life. It’s opportunity for me to then show the different layers of myself. Another thing, and Zane does a good job of this, is relating to the audience. You see things on the show that you may relate to and be able to say, “I’ve experienced that before.”

Actor, Kinyumba Mutakabbir

Parlé:  I know you and a few other cast members are members of Greek organizations. How has that helped you on screen?
Kinyumba: We’ve incorporated signs, strolling and grips. All of that is embraced from our fraternities.
Parlé:  Would you compare the frat to any of the frats on a college campus?
Kinyumba: I’m actually an Alpha so I am partial to Greek life. I would say that it would be a cross between the Alphas and Ques. I may be biased but I think of Alpha men as being professional. There’s a fun and exciting element [to the guys on the show] and I think that lends itself to that Que personality

Parlé:  You’re into martial arts, and are pretty much an all-around athlete. How has your athletic ability aided you in acting?
Kinyumba: Well one of the biggest things that athletes gain besides the physique is the discipline and the ability to withstand or overcome an obstacle or challenge. I think that’s been my biggest asset, being an athlete. I can withstand those obstacles. I’m able to be intuitive and instinctive. I can respond more with my body instead of my mind and that helps me more on camera as opposed to thinking things through and trying to piece things together. It’s more natural for me because I’m using my instincts and my body.
Parlé:  Tanjareen, what is it like working with the other members of the cast?
Tanjareen: We get along really well. All the men are in excellent shape so you definitely want to work with people who you like looking at. That was a plus. It puts you in a good mood. The girls are a lot of fun. We had to spend time together off set as well, because we were in a new town. We bonded. Latifah, Gregg and I hung out the most because we had a lot of scenes to shoot together. It’s a lot of fun when you’re on location because you get to know people a lot deeper.


Parlé:  
Does that attribute to the chemistry that you guys have while you’re on camera?
Tanjareen: Absolutely. Amin and I have been friends since 2003. We took an acting class together, so I already knew once I got the call that I would have to shoot a scene with him. I find him to be an attractive man so it wouldn’t be hard for me to fall for him.
Parlé:  What else do you think the readers should know about The Jump Off?
Tanjareen: I want the world to know that love is not taboo. It is a wonderful thing. We should embrace it just like mainstream embraces it. Those chicks on True Blood have sex with animals and people love it. I just want people to not be afraid to see Black love on the screen and not be concerned if a woman like me, who has natural boobies shows them. I’m proud. I’m happy. They’re not sagging yet, so let me show them now before nobody wants to see them.
Zane: People always say that they want this type of programming that features African-Americans, but you really have to support the shows when they come on so they can have long runs. Everyone has given positive feedback but I do know that there are still people who are unaware. I really need everyone to please spread the word and let everyone know so that we can continue to make a difference.

Zane is also completing a book for The Jump Off, as well as two other novels that should be finished within the year. Kinyumba is working on producing and starring in a period piece that will be shooting this summer. Tanjareen can be found starring in her online series The Celibate Nympho that can be found on YouTube. Amin Joseph will be starring alongside Sylvester Stallone in Homefront as well as in Black Magic, with Wendy Raquel Robinson that has begun filming this month.

Zane’s The Jump Off airs on Cinemax every Friday evening at 11/10pm CST. Every three weeks there is a recap of the prior three episodes on Sunday nights.

 

Main Image and Amin Joseph photo credit:  Jim Sheldon/Cinemax
Photo credit for Zane photo: Hildson Photography

 


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